Prospecting Skills: How To Differentiate Between Wants & Needs

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

wants and needs on weigherI went to lunch with a client  a week ago and they insisted we go to a very specific restaurant not far from his office, but still a brisk ten-minute walk.

We passed several buzzing and vibrant restaurants on the way, but he was adamant that we go to ‘his’ favourite.

I had no problem with this, even with the bitingly-chill wind cutting through my coat!

We had a really good lunch and he mentioned on the walk back that he seldom goes there for normal meals; he tends to take special clients or suppliers there, because he simply wants to, and he knows that his clients will be impressed by the atmosphere and quality of the food.

It made me realise once again that, when we have a choice, we would always choose what we want over what we need.

Simply put, needs are:

Product-specific: I need some food

Rational: It needs to be within a certain budget

Above the surface: I will share this with anyone

Based on fact: I need the main meal to cost less than £15

Let’s differentiate these from wants:

Product-neutral:  I want the food to taste good

Emotional: I want the food to make me feel good. It needs to be tasty.

Below the surface: I need to trust the restaurant implicitly

Based on perception: I decide what makes me feel good about the whole experience

All customers make a choice based on needs and wants.

For some, the need outweighs the want and they will be very practical in their assessment of their buying processes.

This normally means they view the purchase as a commodity.

It’s simply a matter of what is cheapest or most convenient and they will go for that.

For others, the want outweighs the need.

They need food, but they want the steak. They need transport, but they want the BMW. The desire takes precedent over the need, and they will probably pay more for the experience.

This explains why some people will pay over £100 for an evening’s ticket to the theatre.

They don’t need the entertainment, but it adds spice and value to their lives, so they pay what they feel the ticket is worth to them.

Some say that seeing some artist or other is worth any price, as long as they can remember the experience.

Remember, prospects are more likely to buy what they need from salespeople who understand what the prospect wants.

So, you need to present the product in the way the prospect wants to perceive it.

Depending on who the decision-maker is, you would present in a way that appeals to them and their specific wants.

My client who took me to lunch had his own needs satisfied by the food, but his wants (to impress me, to have a great experience, to enjoy the tastes of the food he specifically chose) outweighed his needs and he was willing to pay for that.

If you can make your prospects feel good about the experience they have with your products and services, you stand a better chance of selling them.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of Dollarphotoclub

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 24 February, 2016

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