Let me try to give an example of how understanding need works. When I worked in timeshare, one of my biggest sales was to a family who on the surface had absolutely no need for a week of ownership in the Smokey Mountains. First, the family lived an hour up the road. Second, they already owned one cabin and two condos in the area, and third, they owned a vacation home in Myrtle Beach. They had more vacation space than they could ever possibly use. The odds of me convincing them to buy more vacation space were zero to none. But during my need phase of the process, I listened very closely to both of them.
The wife had made the husband take the afternoon away from his very successful, very busy business to come to the resort to see it. She had already done her research and came in the door wanting it. She told me several times how beautiful the resort was and how many times she had driven by and looked at it. Those of you who have been taking notes will pick up on the fact that she was a visual person. She needed to see the views from the top and the interior of the unit. That’s all it took for her to seal it.
The husband, however, was a business person and very practical. Owning one week at the resort, no matter how nice, made no practical sense to him. He would never see a return on his investment if he thought about it in terms of staying on our property. He was also a fourth kind of learner, the analytical, the kind I purposefully left out earlier because analyticals are the toughest sells. I plan to devote at least one or two entire sections on just analyticals later. For this particular person, I had to find out what he really needed.
While we talked, he mentioned to me a few times that he had reached a point in his life where he was ready to relax more. He had worked hard building his business, and he had earned the right to relax more. He owed it to his wife for the hard work she had done raising their children. Her dream was to see Hawaii. Now, he may have owned a cabin, two condos, and a vacation home, but none of them were on the islands, and none of them offered an exchange program that would allow him to travel to Hawaii for very little additional expense. The resort where I worked just happened to have one of the strongest exchange values in the industry because of high demand and limited supply, and mathematically with just three trips to Hawaii, the unit would break even, and he would still own it.
To a practical business person, this made sense. He needed the time with his wife. She needed the trip to Hawaii. There was a lot more to closing the deal than just that, but that was the basis I started with, and it worked. I know for a fact that many of my colleagues at the resort wouldn’t have listened to them closely enough to figure out the end, and they would have “spun” the tour to try for a better shot. But because Tim had taught me to use my ears more than my mouth, I paid attention to them, and when we were at the end, the gentleman pulled out his checkbook and stroked a check for $26,084 without blinking an eye.
That’s how need works. You ask people the right questions to get them to tell you what they really need to satisfy a desire or fill an empty space, and then, you show them how your product works for them. If you’re trying to sell a painting that costs more than $500, you should really use this step every single time you’re talking to a potential customer.
In the next post, we’ll start talking about Assistance.