Sales Negotiators Must Know The Difference Between Needs And Wants

by drjim on December 10, 2010

Sometimes Wants Are Not Needs

Sometimes Wants Are Not Needs

Professional sales negotiators know that when the other side of the table lays out what they are looking to get out of a negotiation, everything is not as it seems. It turns out that the world of negotiating is divided into two groups: wants and needs.

The World Of Wants

Whenever any of us starts a sales negotiation, we always show up with a long list of wants. We’ve spent time before the negotiation began sitting around dreaming up what we’d get for our negotiating efforts in a perfect world.

The interesting question is just what is exactly on our list of wants. Sure we started out with the things that we REALLY want. However, very quickly we run out of those things.

We then move on and start to fill out the list with things that we just sorta want. In fact we often fell pressured to create a long list so we’ll eventually just start throwing everything that we can think of (e.g. “world peace”, “an end to hunger”) on to the list of our wants. In the end, it can grow to be quite long.

The World Of Needs

Our actual needs in a sales negotiation can look quite different from our list of wants. Just what are our needs? If you flip open a dictionary (or look it up online), you’ll discover that needs are actually an urgent requirement that we have for something that we absolutely must have.

As you can well imagine, the number of things that either side just must have as a result of any sales negotiation is a much smaller list than the list of wants that we often start off with. In fact, we may have a few as one or two wants and the rest of the items on our list are simply nice-to-have’s.

The Role Of The Sales Negotiator

It sure sounds simple doesn’t it: as a sales negotiator, all you have to do is to sort through the other side’s list of wants, identify the true needs, and then you’ll be good to go. Sorry, life is never that simple.

Instead, you’re going to have to realize that the other side very well may not know what their true needs are. Sure they are there, but they are buried somewhere in their list of wants.

What you are going to have to do is listen very carefully when the other side is laying out their list of wants. Asking probing questions is another good idea. Your goal is to test each and every one of their wants and find out just how important they are to the other side.

What will happen is that you’ll quickly be able to discover what is important to the other side. Once you’ve done this, you will have very clearly identified exactly the areas that you need to work on during the negotiations. Everything else really does not matter.

What All Of This Means For You

As a sales negotiator, it can sometimes be overwhelming when the other side of the table shows up with a lengthy list of demands. In order to get to the heart of this list, you need to realize that it contains two very different types of requests: wants and needs.

Wants are just that: things that we’d all like to have. This is very different from the needs which are things that we must have. As a sales negotiator, it is your job to work with the other side of the table and sort out which of the wants are really needs.

This is not an easy task to do. However, by taking the time to develop the skills that you’ll need in order to separate needs from wants, you’ll be able to successfully close more deals quicker!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: What is the best question that you can ask to find out if a want is really a need?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

A sales negotiation can sometimes sneak up on you, and if you aren’t careful it can bite you in the rear. One such case is what’s called the “planning purpose trap” and it has bitten more than one sales negotiator. It turns out that there’s really no reason to fall into this trap and so I’m going to tell you what you need to be watching out for…

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