“Positively demented, a hopeless case. She needs to be put where someone will take care of her.”
These words would seal Nellie Bly’s fate when she was committed to the Blackwell Island Lunatic Asylum in 1887. Only that Bly wasn’t insane at all. She had faked her mental illness to report on the conditions of the notorious institution. What she found was hard to stomach even for the enured journalist.
Ice-cold baths, freezing nights, abuse at the hands of the nurses and isolation all weren’t doing anything to heal the patients. But worst of all the doctors didn’t listen to anything she said. Bly had completely dropped her act as soon as she’d set foot on the island and behaved like a normal person. The doctors didn’t care. Without her editor pulling some serious strings, she would have stayed trapped in the asylum.
If not even highly specialized doctors were able to determine the state of a patient, how are you as a business owner supposed to figure out what your clients want? By doing what the doctors failed to do: having a conversation and asking questions.
The reality is–few business owners know why their customers by their products. As we established in the last article, prospects buy for two reasons: a good one and a real one. The real reason transcends features and benefits, it is always personal and rooted deep in their psyche.
And the prospect has multiple reasons not to reveal it. It exposes them to the outside world and opens them up to criticism. The drives that fuel this reasoning are selfish and despite wanting to be better people, they override our best intentions. The following three steps allow you to tap into their power:
- The evolutionary needs that influence our behavior
- Matching your prospects real reason with these evolutionary needs
- Weaving the evolutionary needs into your sales presentation
What are these evolutionary needs then?
1. 8 evolutionary needs
Since the earliest of days, humans have been answering to 8 evolutionary needs:
- Enjoying food
- Being free from fear and pain
- Sexual companionship
- To be better than the person next to us
- Caring for out loved ones
- To be approved by others
This list might seem to include selfish and negative traits, but they are largely responsible for our survival as a species. Evolution hardwired them into our behavior. And each purchase we make to this very day is to satisfy one or more of these needs. And if you want to understand which evolutionary need your product fulfills, you can either guess or you can inquire of your prospects.
2. Matching your prospect’s real reason with an evolutionary need
When asked point blank, no prospect will be able to pinpoint the evolutionary need your product satisfies. And most salespeople only ask superficial questions like how soon they are looking to buy, what they are using right now or which features their prospects are looking for.
But the most effective way to dig deeper is asking “Why” questions. Follow up ever answer your prospect gives with another “Why”. Children often use this chain of “Why’s” when they are curious about the world around them. And you obviously want to be less interrogational and more conversational with your prospects. But keep asking and you travel up the chain:
Product > Features > Benefits > Psychological Drivers > Evolutionary Needs
The closer you get to the end, the more personal and powerful answers you will receive. Once you know what really drives your prospect, it’s time to apply that knowledge into your pitch.
3. Weaving the evolutionary need into your sales presentation
While you keep confirming how desirable your product is in its own right–for its features and benefits–keep in mind your product is just a means to an end. Acknowledge it and move on to the real benefit: how it brings your prospect one step closer to the person they want to be and live the life they see for themselves.
Successful and free from fear and pain; enjoying themselves together with their desired ones; caring for their loved ones; and being applauded for it.
Applied to your website, that means your copy as well as your images should always display the positive end results of your product. Even more important than showing images of using the product are photos of customers AFTER they used it.
What state are they in? How do they feel; about their situation, about themselves? By shifting focus to the end benefit in the future, you move your prospect away from the comparison thinking of the moment–and one more step towards the purchase.
The real reason prospects buy is almost never connected to the direct benefits of your product. Being rooted in our evolutionary makeup, it’s also not obvious. And most sales people–like the doctors on “Asylum Island”–don’t bother to truly inquire.
If you dare, asking “Why” until the evolutionary need behind your product is revealed, you can take your prospects where they really want to be: one step closer to the future self they aspire to become, with the help of your product. That will be as liberating for them as when Nellie Bly finally got freed.