Sales – Implicit vs. Explicit Needs

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I recently listened to an audio book, another addition from Jeff, called SPIN selling.  The idea is Situation-Problem-Implication-Need Payoff is a way of selling.  One of the biggest take aways I got from the book is that selling big things is a lot different than selling little things.  I did a post that talked about closing not being the answer.  Well needs is the step you need to focus on instead of closing.  Here’s the idea.  Every customer has a problem… if they don’t, well, you might as well move on.  But just having a problem isn’t a enough.  Just because someone says “my car doesn’t get very good gas mileage”, doesn’t mean they are going to jump right up and go buy a new car.  Yes, they have a problem, but problems aren’t necessarily needs.  At least not directly.

This is where the needs conversation begins.  First, your customer must have a NEED for solution.  If they have a need, you have a chance.  This comes to the concept of implicit needs vs. explicit needs.  I’m still working all of this through my head (but as you may have noticed, I tend to think better after writing some stuff down), but the idea is that an implicit need is more like a problem statement while an explicit need tips over to the want or desire category.

Let me illustrate.  If we go back to the “bad gas mileage” example.  Simply stating that the car gets bad mileage is an implicit need.  Now, as soon as someone says, I need a car with better gas mileage, you have now jumped over to an explicit need.  It’s very subtle, but just admitting that you want or need something, buts you into a buying position.  Being a man and being an engineer, I often miss this subtle difference, especially when I listen to my wife talk about all the things that would be “nice to have”, like a new deck, a mansion on the water etc.  I need to manually flip the switch in my brain to not panic…  it’s just an implicit need.  Now, as soon as my wife starts talking about buying a boat, I know without a doubt it’s an “explicit need” at least in her mind.

Now, this applies in normal life as much as sales.  Pay attention to difference the next time you talk to friends or family.  See if you notice the difference.  it’s pretty cool when you can start to notice the difference.

Thanks for reading,

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