Change Leadership Secret – 4 – No One Needs Your Product

Change Leadership — Secret # 4
No One Needs Your Product

He that is good with a hammer tends to think
everything is a nail. —Abraham Maslow

What I Need to Know

Do people buy your product because they need it?

All sales courses teach the fundamental concept of “need satisfaction selling.” The notion is that people buy things in order to satisfy a need or want, to fill a gap, to solve a problem. While the concept seems straightforward, there is a subtle but incredibly powerful point about buying that even the brightest people often do not understand. That is, the customer’s problem is not that he does not own your product. His need is not your product. Rather, your product satisfies a need perceived by your customer.

I have worked with genius-level Ph.D.s from Cambridge University in England, Harvard M.B.A.s with many years in marketing at name-brand consumer products companies, engineers who truly believe that customers will come running for their better mousetrap, and salespeople with many years of sales experience. In every case, when I asked them, “What is the customer’s problem? What does the customer need?” they said, “His problem is that he needs my product.”

Okay, let’s try this again. Let’s say you need to obtain your management’s approval to purchase a widget. When you ask your manager to sign the purchase requisition, your manager asks, “Why do we need this?” You say, “Because we don’t have it.” Is it likely your manager will say, “Oh. Okay. Then, here’s my approval”? Absolutely not!

What I Need to Do

Get over it. People need to stay alive. People need to satisfy their hunger. People need their problems solved. But people don’t need your product!

The customer’s problem is not that he does not own your product. So, find out what the real problem is. But more important, find out what the customer is trying to accomplish. The customer was likely trying to do something and then ran into an obstacle. That obstacle became the “problem.” Add more value, not just by addressing the obstacle, but by helping the customer accomplish the goal.

And don’t stop there. Find out why the goal exists. What is the need the customer is trying to satisfy by achieving the goal? That is what the customer “needs.”<

Action Summary

  • Look for the customer’s problem.
  • Look for the goal the problem is inhibiting.
  • Look for the need the goal is satisfying.
Change Leadership Secret - 4 No One Needs Your Product
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About Brett Clay

Brett Clay, Ph.D. is the author of “Selling Change,” named the best business book and best sales book of 2010, and is the CEO of Change Leadership Group, LLC, a firm that helps clients improve their leadership capabilities and business performance. A veteran of 25+ years as a high-technology executive, most recently with Microsoft Corporation, he is an award-winning author, executive coach, trainer, speaker, consultant, and business leader.

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