In sales and marketing, have you ever wondered how to get customers to want something they don't feel they need?
As a consultant years ago, I often crossed paths with smart clients who had developed innovative products and services. They hired me because they had one major problem: they couldn't get anyone to buy their products. When the consumer didn't buy, they naturally concluded there was a problem with the product. Usually, however, they were wrong.
It wasn't that their products weren't great; they just didn’t know how to market, how to sell, and how to get customers interested in something they don't yet know they NEED. My role was really about helping them discover their customers' unknown needs.
Now, as a salesman, I often find myself using the same principle when I encounter prospects and clients that say they don't want or need the products and services that I'm offering.
A few weeks ago, I was performing some routine communications with financial institutions, asking them about their planning for the upcoming year and if they might be interested hearing more about a few products and services my company had recently built. One credit union CEO responded, “David, We are in pretty good shape right now and really not looking to make any vendor changes this year or in 2016. Thanks.”
Now, I could have put him in the “tickler file” for 2017, but I realized I had not uncovered the need he actually had, but was just unaware of. And that's probably the reason he hadn't purchased anything from my company—ever.
So, I sent him the following email:
"During 1965, a man walked into a dealership to purchase a new car. The salesman showed him the car with air conditioning, which was then becoming integrated into cars and was quite expensive. New cars were selling for $3,000, and the air conditioning option added another $700. “What do I want that for?” the man said. “If I get hot, I’ll just roll down the window. It’s what I have always done. I don’t need it.”
The salesman invited the man to take the car for a test drive on that hot sunny August afternoon. As they departed the lot, the salesman turned on the air conditioning and rolled up the windows. Suddenly, the man was quite appreciative of air conditioning. He now realized that he needed something he initially had not wanted.
Bringing SWBC’s Collateral Protection Insurance (CPI) Hybrid product into the market is much like bringing air conditioning into automobiles in the 1960s. Your plan is an older-generation version that generates huge profits for the vendor, causes your staff to do loads of work and angers members with massive, high-cost force placed premiums that eventually “tips” members into collections, repossession, and costs the credit union in deficiency balance losses.
Hybrid CPI features a low (approximately $65) monthly premium. Your staff no longer has to do partial refund work and re-amortize loans. Your members will appreciate the fact that you have changed to a program that helps them stay in their vehicles, and your credit union will save substantial money.
If you want to test drive this car and feel the refreshing air of SWBC’s Hybrid CPI, please let me know. It is a triple win for your members, staff, and the credit union. I assure you, this product is really COOL! It's something every credit union needs.”
Exactly 20 minutes later, the CEO requested that I pass along information on our Hybrid CPI to his Vice President of Lending, who later confirmed an appointment with me. The CEO made a good decision. He knew that both cars and CPI plans had changed in recent years, and it was time for them to consider if the product could meet a need they previously were unaware of.
The next time your customer tells you they don’t want or need anything you have to offer, don't take them at their word. Instead, look deeper into their business--their pains, goals, and current environment--and find out if they have an unknown need that your product is the perfect solution for.