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Sales 101 – Part 3: Listen for Needs – Understanding the Needs Journey

Written by Eastwood & Co on .

In this article, we aim to help you understand that for customers to make a change, they must have a compelling reason. We’ll explore what drives that change, the priorities for change, and the importance of asking deeper questions to uncover real needs. Understanding these elements will enable you to offer solutions that truly resonate with your customers.

Understanding the Needs Journey

People often have wants, but without a genuine need, they rarely muster the courage to make changes. Sales is about understanding that customers must go on a journey—the needs journey—to discover the real necessity for change. This journey involves recognising and responding to the underlying needs that drive decisions.

Resistance to Change: Overcoming the Inertia

Behaviour profiling tells us that over 40% of the population dislike change. For someone to switch from their usual supplier, product, or method, there must be a compelling reason or need. People may want many things, but they only act when they truly need them. A comprehensive needs journey can uncover needs that customers might not even be aware of themselves.

Use empathy to understand the customer’s hesitation. Acknowledge their current situation and validate their feelings about change. This helps build trust and opens the door to deeper conversations.

Drivers for Change: Identifying the Motivators

Understanding what drives the need for change is crucial in sales. There are several common drivers that can motivate a business to consider new products or services:

Improving Productivity:

Businesses constantly seek ways to improve efficiency and reduce the time spent on tasks. Solutions that streamline operations or automate processes can be very appealing.

Increasing Profitability:

Increasing revenue or cutting costs is a primary goal for any business. Offering products or services that contribute to these goals can make a compelling case for change.

Building your Brand and Image:

Maintaining and enhancing a positive brand image is vital. A strong reputation can lead to increased customer loyalty and market share. However, any change must be carefully managed to avoid damaging the existing brand perception.

Evaluating Risk:

Businesses need to mitigate potential threats that could harm their operations. Solutions that reduce risk, whether through improved security, compliance, or disaster recovery, are often highly valued.

Prioritising Needs: Determining What Matters Most

Understanding the real drivers for a customer involves identifying their priorities. Needs are about comprehending the true motivations behind a customer’s decision to change. Providing them with a purpose for making a change is crucial.

Conduct a needs analysis to help your customers prioritise their needs. Ask them to rank the importance of different drivers such as cost, efficiency, and risk. This helps clarify their priorities and align your solutions accordingly.

So What? The Power of Probing Questions

People can discuss their situation endlessly. An average salesperson might jump in with a quick fix, but this approach doesn’t establish a robust, needs-satisfying relationship. Instead, we need to internally ask “so what?” about their situation and probe deeper with our questions.

When a customer mentions a concern, don’t just offer a solution. Instead, ask:

                  •               “Why is this situation worrying you?”

                  •               “What opportunities could arise from this situation?”

Even these questions might only scratch the surface. Continuously ask “so what?” to uncover the real consequences of their current situation. This approach helps bring the light bulb moment for the customer, where they recognise the need for change.

Encourage customers to consider the long-term impact of their current situation on their bottom line. This deeper understanding often reveals the true need for change.

Are you hearing what your customers are saying?

Listening for needs is about more than just hearing what your customers say. It’s about digging deeper and asking real, meaningful questions that uncover the true needs driving their decision to make a change. Consider your solutions carefully and align them with these needs. Even if the situation doesn’t favour you this time, the lasting impression you leave will be remembered and could lead to future opportunities.

By genuinely listening, probing deeper, and prioritising your customers’ needs, you can form stronger, more meaningful relationships that lead to long-term success. Remember, it’s the journey you take them on that counts.

At Eastwood & Co, we’re here to help you develop your sales ability. We provide personalised coaching and training to help you master the art of listening for needs. Let’s build meaningful relationships and achieve long-term success together.

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