Home > Consumer Behavior > What's the difference between wants and needs?

What's the difference between wants and needs?

Sales literature keeps referring to finding and satisfying wants and needs. What's the difference between the two? - by Community Mailbox
Wants and needs are the primary motives for selling and getting value from your products and services. - by Drew Stevens
I think you'll find some variable definitions depending upon who you talk to.

Unlike many, I think wants are more powerful than needs. It is the "wants" in our lives that create passion, dreams, and emotional energy within us.

"Needs" are more basic, are more definite, and are more likely to be a commodity sale.

A customer may have a leaky roof, so therefore "needs" a new roof. This customer may shop around for the least expensive option, and look at the basic roof options as "commodities." ("they're all the same so I want the least expensive one")

But what if she wants a cedar shake roof because of the charm and visual appeal of this type of roof? What if her grandparents' home when she was a little girl had a hand-cut cedar shake roof; and as she grew older she became fond of that cedar shake roof to the point that, now at age 45, she wants a cedar shake roof on her Cape Cod style home just like the one on her grandparents' home 30 years prior? Does she "need" a cedar shake roof? No. Does she want one? Yes.

Which would you rather sell to...wants...or needs? - by Skip Anderson
Sales literature keeps referring to finding and satisfying wants and needs. What's the difference between the two?
You want to know the difference but do you really need to ? - by TonyB
You want to know the difference but do you really need to ?
Here, here!

Outstanding comment Tony!

To sell we need to show what is beneficial to the prospect - in their eyes - about our product or service. Whatever their hot buttons are, who cares what we call them ... ???

In my expereince many B2B sales are quite devoid of emotion. Did that change the way I went about my business in my professional capacity? Not one iota!

Call them NEEDS or PAIN or PAIN POINTS or whatever you like, this is simply language and nothing to do with relating to the prospect.

First time on this forum I have seen anyone cut through the baloney Tony!

Well done. - by Gold Calling
At times, the distinction is truly a fine line as, in B2B, the decision-making can be a function of both.

"WANTS" relate to emotions whereas "NEEDS" relate to something definitive within the specific business. The successful SR is able to uncover dynamics where both are at-play with this decision-maker.

For example, the competition was selling "feeds & speeds" when they approached the purchasing department with their copiers. I went to the CEO with an opportunity to bury some profit (by leasing the Xerox copier and a year's supplies). His reaction was virtually one of "enlightenment" because I went for the top and hit all of his hot buttons.

The $250K decision at Alcatel presented them with a tool which put them leagues ahead of every competitor in a "bleeding edge" technology area (movies on-demand). The $1million plus decision by LA County Metro Transit Authority presented them with an approach to noise abatement which ALSO cut multi-millions off their first year rail replacement budget (< 12 mo. ROI)!

When the "right" decision implies MORE than simply the physical capabilities of your offering (ie. the features do the job for the account), rather, the decision-maker is perceived by senior mgmt as "action-oriented" for having made the right decision promptly ... you've dramatically improved his visibility internally!

Good luck & Good selling!
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
Sales literature keeps referring to finding and satisfying wants and needs. What's the difference between the two?
My impression is that most books treat the two as being synonymous and that could be the reason for some people's confusion. - by Slick
I want a thousand dollar kitchen faucet but I only need a sixty dollar faucet. They both deliver water. - by rich34232
I want a thousand dollar kitchen faucet but I only need a sixty dollar faucet. They both deliver water.
I agree rich. I

And it's usually more lucrative (and rewarding) to sell customer the customer what they want (I use the term "desire"),rather than what they need.

We need toothpaste, gas, a roof over our heads.

But when you can sell the customer what they desire (dental veneers, an alternative to spending money on gas, or a cedar shake roof rather than a regular shingle roof ... at least here in the north), you'll make more money in sales than merely selling "needs." And it's more fun.;sm

That's why I teach people to identify both needs and desires, but to focus on the prospedcts' desires whenever possible. - by Skip Anderson
I like Outsource Sales points.

When the CEO makes the decision there is no "senior management" to see that the decision maker was "action orientated" but there may still be an emotional reaction ... they feel good about themselves for making a great decision.

However, this does not apply to all individuals.

Selling is a wondrous profession, is it not? There is no rule that applies to all buyers or all situations. However, there are reasons for all purchases, be they emotional, as in a DESIRE/WANT, or more cut and dry, which is a NEED.

There is also an aspect of these discussions that goes around and around because each of us perceives a different meaning for words, this is the semantics part of it.

You still need to FIND OUT WHAT THEY WANT AND GIVE IT TO THEM. Even if you creatively include costs in a lease for a better write off or faster write down, you simply created a need the prospect never thought of - all to whip the competition who can't think outside the box (I've won a lot of sales this way).

To me, I never desired a copier, I desired a great suit or Allan Edmonds shoes (I have five pair) or a Kevlar canoe but not a Hewlett Packard 18 a minute lasrer printer ... that I needed. This is what I take away as the difference. - by Gold Calling
Without the want and need there is no ownership exchange . The want drives the need. I can have a defective piece of equipment until I want to do something about that there is no need to repair or replace whatever it is. Once the want takes place the need increases to get it done.
There are two factors missing from this conversation of want and need and those are afford and use.Without all four we can forget about any action.
want = desire
need=must take action
Those four factors allow the client to find something they like. - by rich34232
Easy one. In car sales for example, A family of 6 NEEDS a vehicle with plenty of room. They may WANT it to have leather. Needs are something your product must have. The needs are usually the main reason they are seeking to buy a product. The needs are the extra's that the customer may like to have IF it can be fit into the budget. - by jrboyd
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