13. More on Deep Needs

Deep needs, as you will recall from Chapter 8, are those that exist on an emotional, as opposed to pragmatic, level. There are probably hundreds of them, including:

• Adventure

• Aesthetics (love of/craving for beauty)

• Beauty (related to one’s personal appearance)

• Community

• Conformity (need to fit in)

• Consistency (e.g., “If I believe in ‘this,’ then I should also believe in ‘that.’” Particularly useful when selling to people who already hold progressive views other than the one you are espousing. People like to feel they hold a consistent set of thoughts and beliefs.)

• Excitement

• Fun

• Happiness

• Health

• Hipness or Trendiness (“I’m up to date!”)

• Hope (very important—see below)

• Identity (i.e., ethnic, religious or national background)

• Inspiration

• Intellectual stimulation or gratification

• Joy

• Love

• Safety/Security (for self or loved ones—a very powerful motivator)

• Self-Esteem

• Self-Expression and Self-Actualization (Maslow!)

• Sexiness

• Status (“keeping up with the Joneses”)

• Success

• Uniqueness/Importance (“I consume this unique or important-seeming product; therefore I must be unique.”)

• Virtue (“I need to feel like a good person.”)

• Youth

Entire books—and, in some cases, entire libraries—have been written on the concepts underlying each of these needs, but I won’t go into detail here, not just for space reasons, but because of the simple fact that neither my nor any other expert’s interpretation of a deep need is very relevant. As you will learn in Chapter 16, the only relevant interpretation is the customer’s, and you learn it not by consulting books or experts, but the customer himself. He is, after all, the reigning “expert” on his own needs.

Then, when you uncover the specific nature of your customer’s needs, you can sell effectively to him using the sales process described beginning in Chapter 24. This is a highly powerful technique . . . but is it ethical? That’s what I discuss in the next chapter.

“Above all, sell hope.”

In Selling the Invisible, Harry Beckwith makes a statement of such astonishing profundity that you would sooner expect to see it in a psychological or spiritual text than a marketing one. That statement is: “Above all, sell hope.”

Think of all the times activists offer their audiences little beyond gloom and doom. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to feel gloom and doom, but if we let that hopelessness penetrate our hearts and dominate our messages, we lose much of our ability to influence people. In any situation, we must always strive to fill the customer’s deep need—craving—for hope.

True leaders and inspirers understand this. “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” Dr. King’s famous speech at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was, in fact, one long evocation of hope.

I have the words “Above all, sell hope” taped to my computer monitor where I can see them and contemplate them every day. I believe that every activist, teacher, coach, social worker and anyone else who seeks to influence people, should do the same, and that we should all, above all, sell hope.