The first company I worked for had a motto. They had several unofficial mottos, but one stuck with me more than any other. It was “Find a need and fill it”. Can you think of a more fitting saying for a sales person? It wasn’t sell our stuff, it was find a need. It set us up to look for needs to solve. The only way to do that was to use our brains. We had to know what we could sell and ask questions to determine if they had needs around those products or services.
Of all the things that I emphasize with the clients we work with, great questions to determine needs is first. We need to research and verify what their initiatives are. That drives needs for the individuals. We need to ask questions to understand the individual’s needs. We need to ask questions to understand their buying process. All this needs to happen before we ever start to “sell”.
Nobody likes to be sold to. What we want help with is making the right decision to buy. Give us options. Show us how your product or service is different. Show me (not tell me) why your offering is different and worth more money than competitive offerings.
In reflecting on my career, nothing has influenced me as much as those 6 simple words. “Find a need and fill it.”
I had beers with a friend who was an investor in private equity. I was telling him about my business and he shared another version of the same philosophy. I had said that we get paid for solving problems. He shared that “The bigger the problem, the more money people pay you to solve it.” Find big needs and fill those needs….
As you think about your business, what needs are you filling? What differentiates you and your offering that makes you the logical choice? Why should someone pay more for your offering than competitive offerings?
I often tell people that in the 12 years I worked with Black & Decker they sold millions of cordless drills, but nobody ever bought one. I get some inquisitive looks for that statement. The point is nobody buys a drill; they buy what the drill will do for them. They buy a way to make a hole, or run a screw, or pound in a nail. Really. Some people use their drill to hammer in a nail or sink a screw. We “sold” more drills because of that.
Find a need and fill it is basis for all of business. If you aren’t filling a need, whether is a “need” or a “want”, you won’t last long. Most of our clients’ sense that something isn’t going as well as they would like in their business. They may not be able to identify what it is, specifically. That is why asking questions to scope the challenge is a must. Do you do that in your business? Do you understand what need you are filling?