Want My Old CD Player?

Remember when the compact disk became the preferred medium for listening to music in the 80’s?  I was a late adopter, happy as could be with my record player and vinyl albums.  Besides, I know nothing of technology.  (Besides, I am also cheap.)  So I never bought one.

But about ten years after they came out, my sister-in-law told me she was getting rid of hers to buy a better one, and asked me if I wanted the old one.  I jumped on it.  And boy was I happy! I ran out and bought a mess of CD’s, rock, classical, country, oldies, you name it, and I just loved its simplicity.  I was in heaven.

But sometime later we visited them and I got to see the new one they bought.  Unlike mine, which held just one disk, this one held several.  Unlike mine, which played the disk start to finish, the new one would play random songs from random disks and let you even create a playlist.  Unlike mine, which you had to get up and change, this one operated from a remote.  I said to my wife, “Now what are we going to do with that piece of junk CD player we have?”

Think about this story in relation to selling things.  We’re often taught that when we conduct discovery, we will end up with either “Needs Met” or “Needs Unmet” and that will guide us to the best recommendations.  But this is not quite so, because in the prospect’s mind all his needs are met.  In my mind, my needs were met by my record player.  But then I saw how much better I could have it. 

My “Needs Met” soon turned into “Needs Poorly Met.”  And that is what you have to do when you sell, not look for the unmet need but the poorly met need.

There are two lessons here:

The first is that your discovery questions must always be focused on “needs poorly met,” for example, “What is the time period between your receipt of those payments and when they get deposited?”  Clearly, you are looking for some delay, or evidence that the process could be sped up.

The second has to do with the way you teach product knowledge.  Product manuals and overviews tend to focus always on the features and parameters of the product or service, for example, how old someone has to be to be eligible for it.  Seldom do you see information that links the product feature to some obvious need of a certain segment or group of people.

Some years ago I wrote a paper on how to design product knowledge training, and my second question was, “Who uses this product?” along with a direction to define the target group precisely, rather than say, “Any company that has a checking account,” which is most often what you see.

If you’re thinking of teaching product knowledge, write to me and I’ll send the paper to you.  I hate seeing such important training focused on the products, rather than on those who use them.  After all, the golden rule on this site is to

Think Like Your Customer!


About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

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