It’s one of the sales industry’s oldest maxims, and I told it to my lead gen reps last week:
“Interest is often the counterfeit of need.”
When a B2B purchaser buys it’s because they have recognized the importance and necessity—the need— of solving a particular problem, and doing it now.
Interest can, of course, be a step to producing need—but interest alone doesn’t generate the impetus to make a purchasing decision.
“Need,” as I define it, is “a compelling, actively perceived problem that the prospect believes can be solved with the right product or service.”
Using this definition, I told my sales reps that one way to transform “interested” prospects into “buying” prospects is to use the three elements within the definition itself: compelling reason, active perception, and a belief that the problem can be solved.
One: Accentuate the need by demonstrating the compelling nature of the problem. Even if buyers recognize a potential need, they often don’t clearly see the value of fixing it quickly. The prospect must have a accurate picture of not just the need, but how fixing it, and fixing it now is a far preferable alternative to the status quo.
Two: Active perception. A compelling problem isn’t a problem if no one recognizes that it is. Or as occasionally happens, a need gets identified, but by the wrong decision-maker. Good sales reps understand that knowing where a problem resides on the corporate “food chain” is critical. And sometimes “creating need” requires just that—creation. The “Smoking Gun” approach is a powerful sales tactic; when you can visibly and realistically show a prospect a problem they didn’t know they had, it acts as a motivating force and build trust.
Three: Once recognized, a prospect must believe that their problem has a solution (and that you provide it). Often a prospect has already attempted other solutions to their problem before they spoke to you, and will be skeptical that your solution is better than the ones they’ve already tried. Sometimes this step is about overcoming objections, but not always; in many cases it’s about educating the prospect on how your solution works better. This is when having case studies, research, and customer testimonials can have real impact and value.
Interest makes conversations, but need makes sales.
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