What Prospects Really Want


Share on LinkedIn

Your prospects probably want two, seemingly contradictory things.

  1. They want to feel in complete control of their buying process.
  2. They secretly want to be led through their buying process.

In other words, prospects want control and a leader.

Let me give you a personal example. Last year, I was placed in charge of a committee tasked with buying a new healthcare plan for the staff here at The Brooks Group. Admittedly, I’m no expert on buying a corporate healthcare plan. I didn’t really know what I wanted (other than to be sure my coworkers and I were covered), but I certainly didn’t want a salesperson to instruct me. I wanted control and a leader!

How do you, as a salesperson maximize your sales effectiveness in a situation like that? That’s the art of selling.

As our founder (and my father), Bill Brooks said,

“People don’t want to get sold, but they desperately want to buy from people who understand what they want.”

~ You’re Working too Hard to Make the Sale

The secret of balancing those two points comes from your ability to effectively understand what your prospects want.

Most salespeople focus on the needs their prospects express. Needs are features-based. They’re things like color, size, output. The need to obtain healthcare coverage is a great example. They’re easily expressed, surface-level requirements.

The salespeople who allow their prospects to maintain control while at the same time leading them, focus on wants. “Wants” are below the surface, they’re much deeper than needs. Often your prospects have trouble expressing them. In my healthcare example, a great salesperson helped me realize that I wanted a plan that helped us recruit great talent and required less of my time to maintain. “Wants” relate directly to the fact that your prospects secretly want to be led.

Here’s another example: The surface reason for needing a new car is to get to and from work. A below-the-surface reason for wanting a convertible are the glances it offers the driver. These wants are not product-specific. After all, a Rolls Royce would also deliver glances to its driver.

Implementing this into your sales efforts is more than sales motivation. Again, it’s the art of selling.

Ask yourself these questions about your prospects. What’s the surface need your product or service provides? Now, what’s a deeper want your offering can fulfill? Why would a prospect want what you sell?

  • Ego?
  • Recognition?
  • Reputation?
  • Status?
  • Savings?
  • Budget impact?
  • Because their competitor has it?
  • Because their competitor doesn’t have it?
  • Others…

Then, come up with questions that allow you to understand whether these wants exist. After you uncover them, you must use those questions in your efforts closing the sale.

How have you discovered wants before? What are some wants your prospects have?


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jeb Brooks
Jeb Brooks is Executive Vice President of the The Brooks Group, one of the world's Top Ten Sales Training Firms as ranked by Selling Power Magazine. He is a sought-after commentator on sales and sales management issues, having appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. Jeb authored the second edition of the book "Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call" and writes for The Brooks Group's popular Sales Blog.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here