Give them what they want, not what they need
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase plenty of times before:
Give them what they want, not what they need.
And I’m sure you’ve always felt a bit suspicious of it too. After all, it just has that ring of the manipulative about it doesn’t it? Surely the authentic thing to do would be to be honest with your client about what they really need and how you can help?
However, don’t be too quick to dismiss it because there is a huge amount of truth in this well-worn and clichéd statement.
When we have a service to offer or a difference to make it is often crystal clear to us exactly how we can help a potential client – or even a whole group or “tribe” of people. We know the power of our work so well that we fall into the trap of trying to reach people by talking about what we know they need. We almost want to grab people by the shoulders and shout “work with me!!!”
But the problem is that your potential client is usually so embroiled in their immediate problems that there simply isn’t the luxury for them of doing work that they perceive as “nice to have”.
To take an example from one of my mentoring calls this week: I was asking a client about the biggest difference she could make to a potential client and her response was that it would be to teach them how to have effective conversations.
Now, she really understands the value of her work. She knows just how profoundly, learning how to have effective conversations, changes things for her clients. The problem is that her client doesn’t see that yet. And trying to convince him of the value of effective conversations when he’s up to his eyeballs in trying to juggle his responsibilities, manage a dysfunctional team, and hit his deadlines while worrying about the security of his job and trying to get home to the family before the kids get to bed – well it’s just not going to reach him.
If you were to ask him what he wants more than anything he might say something about wanting to get his team working effectively so that he can stop firefighting, get more done in less time and with less stress, and be respected by his bosses. That is what he “wants”. And learning how to have effective conversations is really just the tool that will help him to get that.
Another example would be the relationship coach who knows that what her clients need is to learn to have a better relationship with themselves. The problem is the client isn’t interested – they just want to find a partner. So by focusing on what they want (a loving partner) the coach will get the chance to help the client with what they really need – once they’ve committed to the work.
This distinction between what someone wants and what they need applies across the board – from the marketing on your website, to how you introduce yourself when networking, to how you present your programme during your sales conversation.
If you can really tap into your client’s pain, problems, and desires by asking the question “What do they want more than anything?” it will allow more people to hear your message and more people to sign up to work with you – which gives you the opportunity to do the work they really need and make a difference on a deep and lasting level.
After all, you can’t make a whole lot of difference to anyone if they are not actually saying “Yes please!” to starting work with you, can you?”
So what do YOU want?
The same principle applies to me when I write these blog posts. There is plenty that I know you “need” to hear about sales. But I also know that there are certain burning issues that you are struggling with like:
- People keep saying they can’t afford to work with me – what can I do about that?
- A client last week said she needed to think about it but then I didn’t hear from her again – what did I do wrong?
- I feel like a pushy salesperson when I keep chasing people who don’t get back to me – should I just keep trying?
I know that if I write a post on these topics you lap them up. But I also know that what you really need is to learn how to have structured sales conversations where you authentically and congruently communicate the value of your work. I know that when you do this properly your ideal client has an internal “yes please!” response and is more likely to say – “when can we start?” than “can I think about it?”. Now of course knowing how to deal with “I can’t afford it” is a useful tool to have but what is really important is learning how to have an effective sales conversation in the first place – and “I can’t afford it” becomes a once-in-a-blue-moon event.
So my job when I write these blog posts is to provide valuable information to encourage you to continue to read them. In fact, it’s a lot like selling – if I give you what you want you will become regular readers and share them with others. You will trust my recommendations when I recommend colleagues or affiliates. And you will be more likely to respond to my invitation to join me for my “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” course when it next opens for enrolment.
There’s no point in me sharing a valuable message in a blog post that nobody reads – it’s better that I write about what you want – and if there’s an important message that I think you need to hear I can make sure that I get that in there too.
Which brings me to an important question.
What do you want to hear about?
Please reply in the comments section below and let me know what you would most like to hear about from me and I’ll make sure that over the coming months I give you what you want!
One thing I intuitively know that you’ll love is my 7 Steps to Yes! video training.
It’s a series of bite-sized videos (just 3 minutes each) that will give you a complete step-by-step structure for your sales conversations – and it’s completely FREE.