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Sell More When You Understand Your Prospects Needs


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Dr Mazlow an eminent behavioral scientist has mapped out a pyramid of human needs and aspirations which is very useful in selling to understand what drives people to do what they do in both their social and business lives.

Physiological Needs

Only when these basic needs are satisfied does man strive to satisfy a higher need.

Primitive man would risk encountering wild animals to satisfy basic needs for food, but once satisfied he found other important things to worry about such as;


The safety of life and limb.

Security. Freedom from pain and worry.

Stability, the need for familiar things and ideas.

The need to feel safe runs deep, - a child's fear when in a dark room.

Our own fear of strange animals or unusual events,

these are the remnants of the protective instinct to feel safe.

This desire for safety is indicated today by the discussions on nuclear fallout, cancer from smoking, seat belts, and other safety issues.

More subtle examples of man's need to feel safe might include: -

The job a man takes for security

His savings for a rainy day

His insurance policies

His cupboard full of medicines, just in case

And also, from a salesperson's point of view, his tendency to prefer the familiar to the unknown,

e. g. his existing supplier's product to yours.

Once the need for safety is satisfied there grows within a man a need for love.


He needs other people, from whom he can receive, and to whom he can give, affection

e. g. - wife, family, child, etc.

This need is also expressed in wanting to belong to a group and to be identified as a member of good standing within that group.

One of the most feared punishments in the world is isolation.

The need for self-esteem or self-respect, as shown by our seeking status.

Every mature person has a need to feel important.

The reaction he needs from other people (you) is one that reflects him as a person of good reputation,

a person of prestige and one deserving attention.

Because these self-esteem needs are so strong, people will go to extreme lengths to satisfy them,

but this usually occurs only when the normal channels of satisfying them have been frustrated.

A starving man will eat almost anything.

Similarly a man starved of importance will use any method of gaining recognition e. g. publicity, stunts and daredevil escapades.

In order to see ourselves as important people we need other people to have a similar view of us and tell us so.

Our friends are our friends because they share to a greater, or lesser degree, a feeling that we are someone of consequence.

We all have within us a need to be recognized as important.

Status symbols such as big desks, special cars for executives, blue-collar workers with special overalls and lockers etc.

Housewives show their need for self-esteem through membership of clubs and other social circles.

Competition is a key factor as a motivator of status and of self-respect.


The true drive towards self-actualization rests on a man being reasonably satisfied in all other wants including self-respect.

Liking what and who we are, becomes a motivator for us to become more of what we can be.

Dr Mazlow's belief is that the need for self-actualization is never satisfied, not even temporarily.

It needs constant feeding; one success stimulates another and another.

We enter the state of well being that becomes too good to lose.

This is why some people, even though they have reached the pinnacle of their professions or accumulated enormous wealth, continue to strive.

It's failure or a fear of Failure that stops us from doing and becoming more.

This is why it is wise to focus on past and current successes rather than on our failures. To Summarize:-

The four basic motivators are:

1. Physiological or biological needs.

(The subsistence needs) Food, shelter, clothing and in a modern society, money to buy these things.

2. Social needs,

(membership or affiliation needs) to be with other people.

To belong, to be accepted, to be approved of by a social group, no matter how small, and to conform to its standards.

It is also important to be recognized by one's peers.

3. Self-fulfillment needs.

The need for growth in personal stature (exhibited by the need for status symbols).

The need for achievement, accomplishment and success. This also associated with the need for a better life.

4. The psychological needs.

The need for consistency within a system of ideas and beliefs.

This is why the salesman needs to believe in his product.

The need to preserve psychological integrity and individuality.

Some things appeal to a number of these drives at once;

money can fulfill basic needs, subsistence, and savings for safety and purchases for status.

Money can also enhance our social position. Money if used properly as an incentive can also be used to satisfy the achievement drive.

When you understand these drives that your prospects have,

you will develop a more empathic relationship with them which will help when you are selling to fulfill their human needs.

Don has over 25 years experience in sales and sales-management in the advertising and Insurance industries. He is a highly successful and motivated entrepreneur now retired but involved in coaching salespeople through articles, talks and his website which will be the basis of the training course he is developing. Hobbies include, woodwork, hypnotherapy and coaching salesmanship and self development.


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