The Chairman of a renowned multinational manufacturer once startled his staff when he said, “Anyone can make what we make. We are not in the business of manufacturing; we are in the business of marketing. ” I cannot agree with him more.
Selling purely on the features of a product invites the client to compare apples for apples- a debate which the salesperson will most probably lose. He makes it difficult to lose however when he makes the prospect perceive his apples as oranges. To do this he must make the discussion not about the lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs but the levels above it. And the levels above it are all emotional. The progressive salesperson plays in this emotional space.
First a quick reminder from Google: Maslow’s pyramidal hierarchy progresses from basic, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization needs. Unless you are a hunger victim awaiting relief food, you don’t eat because you are hungry; it may feel that way but it’s not if it were true you wouldn’t be choosing what food to eat and where to eat it and with whom you do so. It follows therefore that the food establishment does not sell food it sells the service, the ambiance, the extras. Food is a basic need that is no longer a motivating factor to buy.
So profound is the need to employ Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in selling that institutions whose salespeople must be technically competent (e.g. those in agribusiness selling beneficial insects or chemicals to large scale farmers), are quickly finding themselves in need of training them to have a sales orientation. Now the farmer concedes that the demo has worked, it does not follow he wil keel over and ask to be shown where to sign. The salesperson, after having established the facts, must still play in the emotional space if he is to make a sale. He must remove his technical cap and don the salesperson one.
When the salesperson rattles off the features of his service or product that he is selling, he is doing little more than verbalising the brochure which in itself is an inanimate basic on Maslow’s hierarchy. Consider the saleslady selling credit cards who says: “this card has Chip and PIN functionality and the interest is only 3% per month; the card enables the cardholder to obtain the funds in cash by withdrawal from ATMs and/or ascertain information as to the balance on the card at ATMs or Points of Sale terminals ." All that is good to know madam but, hey, which credit card doesn't do all that? TSM
Kageche is Lead Facilitator Lend Me Your Ears- A sales and Speech Training Firm