Needs or Wants Selling – Which do People Buy on?

Needs or Wants Selling - Which do People Buy On

Needs or Wants Selling – Which do People Buy On


Extracted from the book “Over 50 Ways of Closing the Sale” by Peter Collins

Do people buy on the basis of needs or do they buy on the basis of wants?  Think about it carefully – in your opinion, what motivates people to buy – is it NEEDS or is it WANTS?

Now stop trying to work out all kinds of reasoning, logic and the things you have been taught over the years, like people only buy what they can pay  for, and just answer the question – do people buy needs or do they buy wants?

The answer is simple.  Most people only buy what they need when they have been specifically instructed to, or when their life depends on it.  For example, a man with a bad back may be told to buy a vibrating chair for relief.  That is his need – a vibrating chair.  But he may want a very special vibrating chair, one that costs four times more than the base model does – he may need a vibrating chair, but he wants that one (even though it costs four times more than the other) and will buy it. 


We all need a car to get around more efficiently – we do, don’t we?  Then some us are happy to drive a basic Ford, while others prefer a Toyota, and still others only want a Mercedes, a Ferrari or a Rolls Royce.  The fact is, we only NEED a vehicle with a chassis, mechanicals, a steering column and four wheels.  Anything above that is what we WANT.  Perhaps a better way of putting it is, most people don’t buy on the basis of NEED, they buy on the basis of GREED.  And the sooner the individual salesperson gets hold of that one fact, their sales will increase markedly without TOO  MUCH  additional  EFFORT.

The minute your prospect’s begin to believe they WANT whatever you are selling, they will quickly see a NEED for that product or service whether they really NEED it or not.   It’s as simple as that.  So why is it that so many sales trainers (especially in the corporate sector) teach that we should isolate the prospect’s needs, and then sell them on that need?  I know I’ve been guilty of thinking that way too, that is, until I was forced to think it through to its logical conclusion.


Now here’s something many corporate salespeople don’t realise.  Those who practice Needs Analysis Selling take longer to finalise callsmuch longer.  Instead of using the telephone to gather the information they need to close the sale (hopefully on the first call), the first call, in turn, is used as an information gathering exercise; the second call to analyse the results and to provide a proposal or two; the third call to obtain an agreement;  and perhaps a fourth, fifth or sixth call to wrap up the sale.

Does it sound the way most companies do business these days?  And it’s all well and good until some “really sharp” salesperson comes along and closes the sale in one or two calls, leaving the Needs Analysis Seller without a sale.

The other point far too many salespeople don’t appreciate is, the longer the time frame the selling process takes, the more time the prospect has to call in opposition companies; make comparisons; analyse data and secure the contract that sounds the most plausible.  Ironically, that decision will usually go to the person who sells the prospect what the prospect WANTS and not what the prospect NEEDS.

Now remember what you learned about Wants Selling while reading the previous page.  The minute your prospect’s begin to believe they WANT whatever you are selling, they will quickly see a NEED for that product or service whether they really NEED it or not.


One of the greatest dilemmas the inexperienced salesperson has to face once the “HOT BUTTON” (the want) has been exposed, is not to close the sale too quickly, while at the same time, not allowing the prospect to cool down either. 

Once this point is reached, the experienced salesperson is aware that most people want to buy, but hesitate if confronted too quickly about a decision to buy.  To overcome this, the salesperson should ask a series of seemingly easy questions.  In other words, minor decisions for a major purchase.

Rather than ask someone to buy a car, you would need to ask if they would prefer:

  • Cloth, vinyl or leather upholstery
  • Manual or automatic
  • CD or cassette player
  • Red or green

and so on.


But most importantly, the salesperson needs to ask those questions to achieve two objectives.  The first is to help the prospect realise they have already bought without using those words to tell you so, and the second is to reaffirm that this is the item they WANT.  Once they realise they WANT it, there is no need to sell them on needing it – they have already justified the NEED.


Yet more sales are lost by not asking for the order than by any other means. Asking is a simple process.  We do it all through our waking lives.

So let’s check-out the following conversation.

Peter:    “Tom, can I have a notepad please?”

Tom:     “Of course.”

Peter:   “Thank you.  Could I also borrow your pen for a moment?  … Thanks … Oh, by the way, could you pass me the scissors?”

Tom:    “There you are.”

Peter:    “Thank you.  You wouldn’t have twenty dollars I could borrow, would you?……. Could you spare another ten then Tom?”

Tom:    “Sure.”

Peter:   “Thank you.

In the last thirty seconds, Peter has acquired a pad, pen, scissors and $30.  How did he do it?  He simply asked for it.


The asking process is so simple, many salespeople can’t accept the simplicity and tend to complicate it.  Strangely, these complications usually don’t occur in normal conversation with these people (as with the discussion we have just detailed), but put them in front of a prospect, and for some reason, they feel they need to complicate, compound,  muddle or perplex the issue. 


The salesperson must also understand, that in general, most people avoid making a decision, and whenever possible, would prefer to leave it to others to make that decision for them.  As an example, this can be typical of a foursome visiting a restaurant for the first time.  And even though all had only heard good reports about the restaurant, indecision becomes the main topic of conversation once the menus are presented.  Typically, everyone scours this culinary bill of fare, they discuss it, and one by one they place the menus on the table.

The waiter comes along a little while later, but no-one is ready, no decision has been made.  So out come the menus again, and again no-one can decide.  Then one person says they are not too sure about their entrees or dinner, but would like the strawberries for dessert.  In the next ten seconds everyone is prepared to order strawberries for dessert.  Why?  Because they have all made a minor decision.  The waiter returns and suggests three types of entrees and two main courses.  Instantly decisions are made.  A minor one at first, then the major decision prompted by the only salesman at the dinner table – the waiter.

In life, it is simpler not to make a decision than to make the effort to make that decision.  It is also much simpler to say ‘No‘ than it is to say ‘Yes‘.  Little wonder we fear the word ‘No‘.  ‘No‘ is not a rejection, but simply a way of saying, “I am not prepared to make that decision until I know I have made the right decision.”  And no-one likes to make the wrong decision.


So, if any decision which may not seem to be 100% correct at the time was made by your prospect, he or she would undoubtedly feel they are not making a good decision, and therefore would not want to go ahead with the decision that may prove to be a bad decision in the long-run.  A decision with a 95% commitment is no more a commitment than a decision with a 5% commitment.  You need 100% commitment for that decision to be made and held to.  And that is where salesmanship comes in.  Salesmanship – by knowing what to say and do at what time, and then,  how to do and say what needs to be said to close.


People need to feel comfortable when they reach an agreement – they don’t want to make a decision to buy; otherwise they may just find a reason not to make a decision in the first place.  It’s always easier to agree than to decide.

Remember, everyone at the restaurant agreed on dessert first then agreed on the entree and then the main course, but when confronted with a decision, no-one made a decision until prompted by the waiter, and then it was only an agreement to have what was suggested.

So, ask for an agreement, not a decision.  Your smoothness of closing techniques will make the decision for them.  You only need to get them to agree.  Try this phrase:  “You’d have to agree with that, wouldn’t you?” and you’ll get a “Yes” the majority of the time.

Extracted from the Book “Over 50 Ways of Closing the Sale” by Peter Collins and available for purchase at a special price of $15.00 and downloadable in PDF Format.


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