Success: Getting Customers to Want What They Need

Sep 29, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

I was reading on Seth Godin’s blog this morning his post Needs Don’t Always Lead to Demand.  He only wrote about 300 words but they were so completely true.  He pointed out that just because we recognize that someone needs something they don’t necessarily recognize it or want it.  Therefore, their need does not create a demand.

People Tend To Stick With The Status Quo

In my experience, as a business coach and a counselor, I see a very glaring need someone has in their business.  I can bring it up for months.  For months they may say “Yeah, I really do need ……to get a website….to fire my accountant… delegate more….”.  Yet for month after month they continue to stick with the status quo.

Godin goes on to say that you may have to shift to what the person “wants”.  His example for someone who needs to lose weight, in addition to potato chips, they may want convenience or belonging.

Try The Counseling Approach – Meet Them Where They Are

In my counselor education and training we were taught to come along side people.  To meet them where they are at the time.  I think that is similar to finding out what they “want” rather than “need”.

The psychology behind it is the stages of change.  There are five stages.  When a person doesn’t want to change or doesn’t even recognize the need to change, he is called a pre-contemplator.  At this stage, you have to really slow down and help them understand why changing may benefit them.  We have to make them think the “need” is really a “want”.  They have to want it!

The goal is to first move them to contemplation.  At this stage, the negatives of their current situation are starting to tip the scales.  They are beginning to see more negatives than positive.  Now maybe, just maybe, there is a chance the person will realize that they “need” something different and then their “want” will kick in.

In all of the years of seeing counseling and coaching clients, this has proven to be true.

A business owner can be running around like a chicken with his head cut off doing everything himself in the business while employees are under-utilized.  He absolutely needs to delegate and hold people accountable.  But, his “want” or desire to have everyone like him and to keep harmony, keeps him from satisfying this great need.

Make Them Want What They Need

You may be in the business of selling advice or selling potato chips.  I agree with Seth Godin about satisfying “wants”.  I would go a step further though and, if possible, move their “wants” to be the same as their “needs”.

What are your thoughts?  How do you help customers see their needs?

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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