Sales Tips: Creating Opportunities from Latent Needs

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Uncovering Latent NeedsResearchers say on average a human brain has seven (7) foreground slots, meaning that people can be actively thinking about 7 things concurrently. When a person’s slots are full and a more important issue arises, the least important issue is demoted to the background. 

This means there are two (2) categories or needs: 

  • Active needs have slots allocated.
  • Latent needs aren’t being considered.

It would be abnormal behavior to obsess about issues you can’t control. For instance, if you were scheduled to play golf Saturday morning you wouldn’t spend the next five days wondering whether it may rain on Saturday. The issue may “blip” across your screen, but no control quickly means there’s no sense in worrying about it and it will be demoted to a latent need.

Consider making a sales call on an executive. It’s unlikely he or she will be thinking about a business issue that could be achieved through the use of your offering when you meet. Applying the core concept I wrote about often, No goal No prospect, sellers should proactively try to take buyers from latent to active need early in sales calls. 

In our workshops, we suggest that prior to making calls sellers should research the buyer and company so they can make an intelligent guess about the business issue that is likely to be a priority.

That process allows the seller to share a title/industry specific Success Story that: 

  • Describes a desired outcome
  • A reason the outcome could not originally be achieved
  • The capability provided that addressed the reason
  • The results achieved

Using this approach is a good way to establish credibility early and ideally have buyers share goals. 

Once you’ve filled a slot with a desired business outcome, you’ve earned some time to have a discussion and begin to qualify the opportunity. 

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