Selling Skills Best Practices, Part 5: Pressing Needs and Potential Needs

Salespeople love to sell to a buyer's pressing needs—it's the low-hanging fruit of sales. But the most successful sellers learn to get very good at listening for-and selling to-a buyer's potential needs

In this clip, Joe Friedman explains the difference between pressing needs and potential needs—and why potential needs are so important to successful selling skills.


The key to successful selling is managing the size of the need in the mind of the people that we’re selling to.

In this segment we’re going to give names to two different types of needs. We’re going to call the small ones “Potential Needs” because they have the potential for us to be able to sell something at some point in the future. We’re going to call the big ones “Pressing” because the Buyer, in their mind, feels pressed to make a decision in order to solve a problem, in order to reach a goal, in order to fulfill an aspiration.

Most of the needs that we run into are small. In fact, a vast majority of the needs we run into are Potential Needs. We would call Pressing Needs that we stumble into the low-hanging fruit. And you know, in today’s environment, how often that happens; not very often.

So, ultimately, you’ve got three choices: Number one, you sit in your office by the phone and wait for Pressing Needs to come across your door. Number two, you go out looking for Pressing Needs. Except in reality, those don’t exist in great quantity. So then the other option is this: By all means, react to Pressing Needs when they come your way. But the other challenge is to be so good at listening that you hear the small nuggets that is the Potential Needs and you’re able to grow them in the mind of the people you’re selling to. If you are able to that, they start looking at you differently.

Get good at discoving these needs when they are tiny. That will create both a selling advantage and a competitive advantage for you as well.

If you are so good at listening that you discover Potential Needs and you grow them in the mind of your prospects or buyers, they start looking at you as a consultant, instead of the way that most sellers are viewed—and that is as product-pushers.

It is part of the reason that selling, to this day, has a bad name. When people are asked “What job or vocation do you trust the least?”, sales continues to come out very low on that list.

If you really want to get good at this process, ask yourself the question: What does the need sound like when people are ready to buy? And then ask this question: What does that need sound like a month before that? Three months before that? A year before that? That’s your goal. Get so good at discovering these needs when they are absolutely tiny. That will create both a selling advantage for you and a competitive advantage as well.

ZEHREN♦FRIEDMAN offers a full range of selling skills courses to help you sell better.

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