Can You Sell Prospects Without Needs?

Everyone in sales has been trained to find a prospect’s need and fill it with our solution.

After all, that’s why people need to interact with salespeople.

But if the prospect has no problem or issue to solve, he or she doesn’t need us.

Like you, I get random phone prospecting calls where the salesperson does not recognize this point.

I’m pitched so many solutions to problems that I don’t see. The cold-calling salespeople don’t even know what I do. They lead the discussion by telling me who they are, what they do, and why I should buy from them. No wonder we dislike unprepared cold calls. They waste people’s time.

Research First

In the MERGE process, we do not call before doing our background research. We dig deep to find issues that prospects face. We develop our messaging to resonate with the prospect on the call.

As you have heard me say so often, people buy only when they want to fix, accomplish or avoid something.

To know that “something,” target your market and find the issues using the vast amount of public information available. It takes time, yes. But if you don’t do it, you’re driving blindfolded without a steering wheel.

In my book MERGE, and MERGE 2.0 (coming out in Q1 2018), I dedicate entire chapters on how to research. Also, in my new MERGE 2.0 eLearning course, available soon, one module carefully details the research stage of MERGE, M for Magnify.

This module guides you through a process using your research to book high-level meetings under favorable conditions on topics of interest to key decision makers. You learn how to uncover needs and focus on those prospects who see a need to change the status quo.

97% of prospects are not in the market for your products or services

Early in my sales career, I believed everyone had a need. All you had to do was uncover it and pitch your solution. It wasn’t true then. It isn’t true now.

I learned from research done by Chet Homes in his book The Ultimate Sales Machine, a percentage of the population is happy with what they have and see no benefit in looking at or discussing anything you have to offer.

His research shows that only three percent of potential buyers for your products or services are in the market at any given time.

Another seven percent of the population is open to the idea of buying. This group may be dissatisfied with its current item or provider, and not opposed to change. However, these prospects may not be “buying now.”   The remaining 90 percent fall into one of three equal categories:

1. The top third is “not thinking about it.” They aren’t against it, not for it, they’re simply “not thinking about it.” If you sell office equipment and you run an ad, this 30 percent will not respond. It will not grab their attention because they’re not thinking about office equipment at all. As you learn in my eLearning modules and MERGE 2.0, approaching a prospect with a product pitch is never a smart strategy.

2. The next third is called, “think they’re not interested.”  They’re not neutral like the first third. They might reply, I don’t think I’m interested in office equipment.”

3. The final third is called “definitely not interested.” These folks are either happy with what they have or know they don’t need it. You may notice their outdated equipment, which you could make more efficient, but they think, “If it’s not broken, why fix it?” We have all wasted our time on this type of prospect.

Etch the chart below into your mind.

Source: Chet Holmes, The Ultimate Selling Machine

When you develop savvy research and preparation tools, as showcased in the MERGE process, you learn to engage the prospect in cognition thinking and lead them to your solution, and not lead with it.

In doing so, you open opportunities to close business on the 70 percent of the market.

Prospects with Problems

I see this in the marketplace daily:  Salespeople do not focus their efforts on prospects with problems or issues they can solve.

They waste their time, the prospect’s time, and company resources.

They desperately push prospects without problems through their sales funnels and treat the prospect lead as though he is already on a buying journey to solve an important problem.

What once took ten conversations to unearth an opportunity, now takes fifty. And with the emergence of well-informed prospects who may not engage a salesperson until they’re 60 percent through their buying process, it will take more conversations in the future.

To stop the pain, many sales leaders tell their salespeople to double down on calls and reach more prospects. The ole’ numbers game doesn’t work anymore.

Salespeople must focus on finding prospects with problems and issues.

Through your homework, and a well-designed meeting plan with well-thought-out questioning, you can bring insight and perspective to your prospect and trigger him to consider. “Is there a better way? Can I improve my current situation? Can I avoid that from happening?”

In my book and course, MERGE 2.0, I developed a simple formula for organizing your meeting plan. It is called POINT A. You begin by developing a purpose for the meeting, backed by a solid business reason, in the prospect’s eyes, not yours. This point may sound obvious to you but, trust me, many, many salespeople fail to do it.

Change Your Approach

Imagine the possibilities of changing our approach?

What if we spend time researching and narrowly targeting companies we know struggle with problems, and would be receptive to hearing how they can solve their issues?

It is not difficult to do.

In the MERGE process, you can access analytical tools to pinpoint prospects and the issues and challenges they face.

We teach you how to study your markets and target industry segments, and craft compelling messages through voice mail, e-mail or in conversation with a prospect directly. Download my eBook, How to Secure Executive Appointments under Favorable Conditions for a step-by-step formula.

By targeting industry verticals, doing your research, and mastering a body of knowledge, you will become a subject matter expert over time. Prospect issues will become second nature to you.

Once you internalize the “needs” imperative in today’s selling environment, you will never again approach a new prospect without bringing a fresh perspective and value to the situation.

Yes, you can sell prospects without needs. But why would you?

See you on the upside,


For more information, go to
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

News Alert

MERGE 2.0, read my latest book, now released by the publisher and available on Amazon to purchase.  Learn everything you need to know to book revenue in the new realities of B2B professional selling.

And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

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