Know What Your Customers Want

There is a famous quote by American economist, Theodore Levitt, that captures the way prospective customers buy. He said, "People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole." 

This quote does a wonderful job of capturing what most people in sales know to be true. The customer doesn't buy your product's features, bells or whistles. They buy their future. They buy the vision of what your product does and how their life or job changes for the better, because of the product. 

Why then, do so many sales teams get it wrong?

I hopped on a call to learn about a sales automation tool recently, and before the seller had asked questions to understand me, my business or my goals, I was being walked through their company history, product features, case studies etc.

It was irrelevant to me. When I looked at some of our pitches at PatientPop, I saw some similar behavior. 

The entire process of selling is not easy. Understanding how and why people make purchases is actually a bit more simple in my opinion. It comes back to drill bit versus hole. But you don’t know people want a hole unless you discover it. They may want something different. That’s why we do discovery in sales calls. Well, that’s why you should do discovery.

To discover something - namely, the future the buyer wants. Let's walk through getting the information we need.

Problem: What problem are you trying to solve?

Priority: Why is that problem a priority? Is it a priority?

Past: What have you tried before to address this problem? How did it work?

Wish List: What do you wish the prior solution did differently?

This is not an exhaustive list of discovery. It’s just a simple starting point that a lot of SaaS sales teams could benefit from.

Next time you interact with a customer, don’t start with your company roster, or fundraising info, or any of that. Start by getting to know your customer’s dream future.

Do they even want a quarter-inch hole?


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