We all have needs, and those needs drive us to spend time and money addressing them. In sales, we count on the needs of our prospects and clients to motivate them to buy. For decades, it has been a good sales process to focus on client needs. Needs are good, but they are not the complete picture.
Learning about client needs used to set the better salespeople apart from the package pushers.
On a personal level, we don’t focus on our needs to solve a problem. We focus on what we want. When we’re hungry, we focus on getting food, when we’re tired we focus on getting some sleep, and if we need to hit a goal this quarter, we focus on getting the next sale.
When customer-focused selling started to pick up steam in the 1980’s, there was a greater emphasis on conducting the needs analysis, before going into a product pitch. If someone didn’t perceive they had a need, they were unlikely to want to meet with a salesperson. Having a needs analysis or discovery meeting is still important, but if you stay focused on only needs, you will miss what matters most.
Which would help me build a better solution, focusing on the client’s needs, or the client’s desired results?
What does focusing on results sound like? Not very different from needs, but you want to think like an owner of the business, not someone selling something and focus on outcomes and results. Here are a few examples:
- What key business results are you focused on achieving this year?
- Which results are you having trouble achieving?
- Do you have some emerging areas that are showing strong promise?
What matters most in developing the solution is the prospect’s desired business result. Knowing what the end result should look like will help you in developing a solution to get there. Following a need to the desired results makes the solution you’ll need clearer. Having well-defined results also gives you something to measure, although those metrics will vary depending on what you sell.
Having a conversation about how a prospect will measure success is what sets the best salespeople apart from the competition today.
When you move from needs to desired business results, you prepare yourself for developing a solution that can deliver those results, and you are prepared to measure results. Needs are important, results are what matter.