Traditional sales training teaches that the sales process starts with needs. Find out what your prospects need and then give it to them. The trouble is that it isn’t strictly true. Your customers are not motivated to buy what they need. Your customers are motivated to buy what they want.
It’s a subtle shift, but a vital one. You have to understand what motivates people if you’re going to nail a higher percentage of sales.
Needs vs. Wants
Probably everyone has experienced a buying situation that became a matter of needs vs. wants. Say you’re looking for a vehicle to drive to work. Deep down you know that a reliable used car would be perfectly adequate for what you need. So why do you find yourself in a dealership the following weekend looking at new cars?
Once you acknowledge that fulfilling your transportation need with a used car doesn’t make you feel good and you don’t like the idea, you’re into the territory of “wants.” You don’t need a new car. You want a new car. And your mind is going to help you get it.
Wanting something is often not enough for you to justify buying it. You might not have the money in your pocket or you might have earmarked that money for something else. So your mind plays a neat little trick to help you get what you desire. If you want something badly enough, your mind will turn it into a “need” and logically justify your desire to buy it. At the same time, your mind will also equate not owning the item with a painful experience in the future.
So you’ll tell yourself you need a new car because gas is expensive and new cars have better fuel economy. Or you rationalize that an older car will need more repair work and will cost a lot more in the future. You could end up stranded by the side of the road when it breaks down on your way to a big sales pitch and you’ll lose the sale. Your mind will persuade you it’s better to own a new car on finance for five times more than you were going to pay for a used one and that it is a justifiable bargain.
Pleasure and Pain Principle
This scenario is an example of a psychoanalytic concept called the pleasure and pain principle, first developed by Sigmund Freud, which you can use to great effect in your sales presentations. This concept states we are born into the world seeking gratification by finding pleasure and avoiding pain. These are the only two primary motivations for people taking action to do anything.
Further, your customers are motivated to act much more frequently because of pain than because of pleasure; pain is more immediate and generates stronger emotions, so avoiding it always wins. If avoiding pain compels people to buy from you, all’s well and good. But what if they associate you or your product with future pain and won’t buy?
If you really want the sale, you’re going to have to go much deeper. You’re going to have to motivate them to believe the following:
- Buying your product or service = pleasure
- Not buying = pain
When these two criteria meet, you have a sale.
Let’s say you’re trying to sell a health system to an overweight and unfit prospect who would rather spend his money on another computer game. Unless he has just come back from the doctor where he got a poor health check-up, he’s going to buy the computer game and not your system. Why? Because the boredom he will feel playing his existing games bothers him more than his health failing at some unspecified time in the future.
But what if you could find a little more pain? What if you discovered he is bored with his existing games because he is frustrated he can’t get to the really high game levels? Or that sometimes he plays all night trying to beat those high scorers he envies on the gaming forums because he wants their praise and recognition?
We all know there is a link between performance and health; chances are he’s playing below par because of an inadequate diet and sleepless nights. Could your system give him the health boost he needs to develop sharper reflexes and a focused mindset so he can play better, achieve higher scores, and be recognized by the elite gamers as a serious player?
Hmm. The pain and pleasure stakes have moved a little now, haven’t they?
Everyone has hidden motivations that will help you make the sale. You just have to find them.