Skip to main content

Need vs. want

I have heard it said many times that people do not buy what they need. They buy what they want.

OK, there are exceptions. People need food so they buy food. But even here, they buy not what's good for them (what they need) but what they like (what they want).

Years ago when I was reading everything I could on selling, sales guru Joe Gerrard was my hero. Joe recounted many examples of how people will buy what they want long before they will spend money on what they need. As I read these, I came to realize that I was not one of those selling necessities like food that people had to buy whether or not they wanted to. I was selling chairs, coffee tables, bookcases, kitchen cabinets, decorative paneling and expensive chessboards.

None of these would qualify as a necessity. They are discretionary items that most people could easily live without. If Mrs. Jones did not want new cabinets, she was not going to buy new cabinets no matter how hard I tried to sell them to her.

I soon learned not to waste my time trying to close a sale with someone who did not want what I was offering. Once Mrs. Jones saw her friends’ new cabinets and wanted them for her own kitchen, I had a good chance of making a sale. But until that then, I had to bide my time.


Related Articles