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Is Your Prospect Buying What Your Selling?

"What is most important for your prospect to make a buying decision?" (Is it cost, safety, value, reliability all of them or something else?)

Here is an example of that "something else" from one of my clients.

Roger and Janet, are a married couple who own a health equipment store. They are educated in how each product functions as well as how it impacts the body. They’ve studied how particular units produce improvement in muscle tone and strength building; they know which machines best improve cardiovascular performance, and how specific models target specific muscle groups. They are highly professional and eager to satisfy, matching each and every customer with the appropriate machine highlighting the features & benefits of each as they were taught.

They would approach a prospect with a litany of health related questions, focused on the specific needs of their customer. They considered the customer’s overall body condition, the difference between strengthening and toning muscles, the varying methods involved, dietary considerations, their life style, and so on.

One day, “Bob,” walked in the show room and simply wanted to know which model was the least expensive. After all, at age 40 and overweight, he had no aspirations of being a body builder.

Roger and Janet made many recommendations, matching Bob's "needs" with the many brands in their show room. However, rather then showing enthusiasm, Bob was rapidly exhibiting polite disinterest. It seemed that the more Roger & Janet offered Bob what he “needed”, the less interested he became. Like many others before him, "Bob"said he would go home and think about it, but Roger & Janet never saw him again. They covered the "benefits," "features, "cost," "value" and the rest. They also established rapport through their joke swapping and they focused on the low cost units. So what happened?

Coincidently, Bob and I have our offices in the same building and with bumping into each other he related this story to me.

Yes, my clients are there to sell health but Bob was there to buy a new sex life. That's right! A major divorce age range is 35-45 years old--the mid-life crisis--which should have caught their eye. Due to Roger and Janet's very straight and professional demeanor, he didn't feel comfortable bringing this up to either one.

After learning what many customers were actually buying, they began looking for recently divorced men and women who come in the shop. And, they brought up the topic. Roger attended to the men and Janet attended to the women.

Clients no longer feel embarrassed making my clients the preferred dealer in the area. Well, they increased their gross revenue by 23% within the first quarter and was forced to move into a larger building within 2 years. Now they sell what this group has been buying all along.

Are you selling what your prospects are there to buy? - by John Voris
Hi John. :)

The way I see it you can go after a Probable Want/Need or a Specific Want/Need. There is a time and a place for each.

At the beginning of your story it appears that the salespeople did not determine the prospects specific needs (i.e.; sex life). At the end of your story it appears that the salespeople are approaching a target market (recently divorced men and women) with a probable want/need (i.e.; sex life).

Someone once wrote, "Basically, this is what selling is all about - determining needs and skillfully relating your product's benefits to show how its purchase will fulfill customer's needs." - by Jeff Blackwell
Hi John. :)

The way I see it you can go after a Probable Want/Need or a Specific Want/Need. There is a time and a place for each.

At the beginning of your story it appears that the salespeople did not determine the prospects specific needs (i.e.; sex life). At the end of your story it appears that the salespeople are approaching a target market (recently divorced men and women) with a probable want/need (i.e.; sex life).

Someone once wrote, "Basically, this is what selling is all about - determining needs and skillfully relating your product's benefits to show how its purchase will fulfill customer's needs."
Hey Jeff,

Thanks for the comment.

Clinton once remarked that he told the truth depending on what "is" is.

My thread is about the many levels of "need" and how our personality often determines the "needs" we believe others are after yet we are wrong.

My couple was obviously projecting needs upon prospects.

As you're probing for needs, are your prospects revealing what's really going on in their minds? Not always. People were not revealing their true needs to my clients which was actually to find an intimate partner. It didn't matter how they were questioned, this was a private matter for them. Excellent sales people can run up against this as well.

After I counseled them, they then cautiously approached the idea that they were selling a new sex life for others. I say cautious because they were both very religious and at first could not believe that was what these new prospects really wanted.

So, I agree with everything you said but do we always believe we know what our prospects needs because they said so?

Prospects hide a great deal from sales reps and that will most likely never end. - by John Voris
My thread is about the many levels of "need" and how our personality often determines the "needs" we believe others are after yet we are wrong.

My couple was obviously projecting needs upon prospects.
I couldn't help but suggest, not to change the direction of your thread but as a side note, that "approaching" a prospect with a probable want/need may be the best choice given the situation.

As you're probing for needs, are your prospects revealing what's really going on in their minds? Not always. People were not revealing their true needs to my clients which was actually to find an intimate partner. It didn't matter how they were questioned, this was a private matter for them. Excellent sales people can run up against this as well.
We are on the same page. - by Jeff Blackwell
I couldn't help but suggest, not to change the direction of your thread but as a side note, that "approaching" a prospect with a probable want/need may be the best choice given the situation.

We are on the same page.
That is true. We must begin somewhere. ;sm - by John Voris
We must begin somewhere.
Exactly. ;)

Regarding the point you brought up earlier about prospects revealing what's really going on in their minds... it seems to me that quite often when the topic turns to questioning skills many in the business of sales training and sales education give the impression that via effective questioning ALL (i.e.; sell anything to anybody) is possible. Some even goes as far as to suggest that selling is a science where if you do A (action) then you can expect B (result). In my opinion both of these positions seem to overlook the realities of human behavior. - by Jeff Blackwell
Exactly. ;)

Regarding the point you brought up earlier about prospects revealing what's really going on in their minds... it seems to me that quite often when the topic turns to questioning skills many in the business of sales training and sales education give the impression that via effective questioning ALL (i.e.; sell anything to anybody) is possible. Some even goes as far as to suggest that selling is a science where if you do A (action) then you can expect B (result). In my opinion both of these positions seem to overlook the realities of human behavior.
"Questioning skills" is a term/phrase that has appeared hundreds of times on this forum. Yet rarely are "the skills" described. Most often it appears that the questions are devoted to uncovering needs and/or wants. I know this might sound contrarian, but a person can have great success in selling by concentrating on only two types of questions. The first are ownership questions. The second are Intrinsic Questions which are those questions that get right to the heart of the matter and require an answer that will put the situation in motion. - by Gary A Boye
Exactly. ;)

Regarding the point you brought up earlier about prospects revealing what's really going on in their minds... it seems to me that quite often when the topic turns to questioning skills many in the business of sales training and sales education give the impression that via effective questioning ALL (i.e.; sell anything to anybody) is possible. Some even goes as far as to suggest that selling is a science where if you do A (action) then you can expect B (result). In my opinion both of these positions seem to overlook the realities of human behavior.

Well, it appears you are not a "drug store cowboy." shds;

There are so many new to sales who attend fad seminars and workshops, leave speaking in the latest lingo yet are using old worn-out models and techniques that experienced sales people like yourself buried long ago.

If what they claimed was true, this forum and others like it, would not exist and every sale would be a formula.

Human behavior is not a linear structure consisting of principals and rules but is fluid and flexible in order to deal with the chaos life throws at us.

Selling is not a rigid science but a Philosophy. Every experienced and successful sales person shares this with each other. It is a "knowing" in the "unsaid" that moves the human dynamic. In many ways, words just get in the way. - by John Voris
The first are ownership questions.
Hi Gary. :) For clarity, would you please describe what you mean by 'ownership' questions? Thanks! - by Jeff Blackwell
In many ways, words just get in the way.
Along the same vein, a lack of vocabulary gets in the way. ;) - by Jeff Blackwell
Hi Gary. :) For clarity, would you please describe what you mean by 'ownership' questions? Thanks!
Ownership questions are conversational in nature and address issues, facilitations, decisions, and circumstances that will take place after ownership takes place. Examples:
  • Where will you be housing it while not in use?
  • Who have you assigned to monitor the program?
  • What's the maintenance schedule that you have decided on?
  • Will you be increasing your current coverage in light of your purchase?
- by Gary A Boye
Ownership questions are conversational in nature and address issues, facilitations, decisions, and circumstances that will take place after ownership takes place.
Thank you for the clarification Gary. I think a discussion about Questions and Questioning Skills would be very informative. We may need to start a new thread however so as not to take John's thread off topic. - by Jeff Blackwell
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