People Don’t Want to Buy a Drill

‘People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.’

  • Theodore Levitt


In other words, sell the solution to the customer. Your marketing should focus on how your product helps the customer, not the product itself. When someone has a problem in business or their home, they will likely search for a solution. The aforementioned drill in the analogy is a tool, a tool to help finish a job (the solution).

You need to understand the customer’s ‘Why”. What solution do they need? Why are they buying that ‘drill’?

Not to be confused with the Mark Twain quote, "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail."?

‘This deals with the Law of the Instrument - states the natural human tendency to be over-dependent on their narrow skill-sets and resources. A hammer might not be the most appropriate tool for every purpose. Yet a person with only a hammer is likely to try and fix everything using it without considering other options. People prefer to work make-shift with what they have rather than looking for the best way to do things.’

Back to the ‘Solution’ conversation. This is what your marketing should focus on. How can you help the customer? What does your client need solved, think about it from their view.

Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind – Robert Collier

Your client has problems, just like the rest of us. He or she is thinking about those problems. You want to position your marketing so it aligns with the thoughts going on in their mind. Then they connect with your marketing, as if your advertising is speaking just to them to help them solve their issue.

Sell with stories, stories of how the solution has helped your clients, and can help them too. The old adage in sales: Facts Tell, But Stories Sell.

Human communication has always been about stories. For centuries this is how people learned before books and printing existed. People relate to stories. We all like a good narrative, and it is easier to remember.

People have little interest in getting a home alarm system, but they have a lot of interest in people security, piece of mind to get a good night’s sleep. The marketing would show an ad that tells a story of a couple sleeping well, because their home and kids are protected by an alarm system.

Life insurance is another example of the same principle. No one wants to think they may die, but they do care that their family will be ok financially if something were to happen. You have to understand what your client’s needs are. What do they care about?

Again, the power of storytelling cannot be understated here. People buy on emotions, and rationalize (their purchase) with logic later. You need to engage a potential customer on an emotional level so they connect with your product or service.

After a prospect agrees they need the solution, then they decide who can solve it for them. Now you are selling ‘You’. Are you the one that can help them? Do they trust you?

Part 1 of the sale, is selling the solution. In Part 2, they are buying you. Your confidence and competence goes a long way. People are not so concerned to learn all the facts of your product, just that you know them.

Too often the focus is on the ‘Sales Script’ or ‘Pitch,’ or dealing with ‘Objections’. This has little value if you do not engage and connect with your potential customer on a deeper level first. Understanding the customer’s needs far outweighs the rest.

Good luck with your marketing.

To read more: Benefits vs. Features: Sell the Hole, Not the Drill

For more on the late Harvard Business School marketing professor, Theodore Levitt:





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