No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Value Added: Need or Want?


In the latest in this series looking at how coaches and trainers sell their services, Brian Griffin examines the difference between needs and wants.

I keep telling my wife that we need to change the car. She argues that this isn’t true – stating I merely want to change the car. What a pedant! But when you think about it, maybe she has a point. I need sustenance to survive – brown rice, veg and water would suffice, but I want sirloin steak with all the trimmings – even though it’s going to cost me more and is bad for me. You see, we’re far more enthusiastic about pandering to our “wants”, than focussing on our “needs”. Why do people drive about in Mercs when a pair of roller skates would do? Because they want to. It’s therefore incumbent upon us to be cautious when concluding that buyers consistently make purchasing decisions based on needs – nothing is further from the truth. I see something I want, and then spend 20 minutes trying to come up with a rationale for its purchase. The skilled salesperson will supply me with the appropriate justifications, allowing me to head home with yet another book to add to my library.

Whilst recognising the role that “wants” have, we must recognise that the majority of service provision has the purpose of addressing “needs”. We are purveyors of solutions – so have you positioned yourself as a solver of problems? Before you attempt to present your services, a little bit of basic algebra can be utilised to improve your approach.

Let’s use this equation: P= W – H, when P = Problem; W = What desirable situation prospects want; and H = What undesirable situation they presently have. For example, a prospective customer might say “I want to operate four branches throughout the county – I presently have just two.” So P equals the difference between what she has and what she wants. This now informs you as to whether your services have the potential to make a meaningful contribution to her problem. You might conclude that e.g. selection and training of personnel (managers and sales people), or upgrading her IT network could go a long way to help meet her goals.

She’ll need your guidance to make the connection between your services and the resolution of her needs – this is your task. If she can see that by engaging your expertise, she’ll move closer to her goal, you’ll now have her attention – she is listening to you. But, if you fail to make this link, she’ll see you as yet another pedlar of services that she neither wants nor needs – and you’ll be back on the streets.

So how do you solve P = W – H? By asking!

About the author: Since the late 1980's Brian Griffin has focussed exclusively on helping training companies, consultants, trainers and others to better market and sell their professional services.He is a Chartered Marketer, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development; a Fellow of the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He writes regular columns for a variety of media and is frequently guest speaker at conferences and seminars. For more information on go to

Related articles: Value Added: The Soft Sell
Value Added: Has Anyone Heard of You?


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!