What You Want To Sell Isn’t What They Want To Buy

We love helping our clients achieve the greatest possible success.  But sometimes, it seems like they themselves don’t want that.  Many clients only want the most basic, stripped-down version of what we offer.  And other clients ignore our suggestions for proactive, preventative work, and only come to us when something blows up on them.

Square peg round hole
© Depositphotos.com/bradcalkins
Why is it that what we want to sell–which is typically the best thing for them–isn’t what they want to buy?  This is doubly frustrating, because we’re not helping clients to our fullest ability, and we’re not making as much money as we could.

In my experience, this frustration is extremely common, shared by most industries I work with.  My dentist bemoans the fact that many people skip their cleanings for years, and they only call when something in their mouth has gone horribly wrong.  A graphic design firm I work with noted that companies come to them just wanting a logo, uninterested the many additional ways they could help create a stronger brand image.

I’m going to show you why this happens, and how to address it, so you can help more clients in the full way you want to.

Examples Across Industries

Here are some examples of this challenge from different businesses I’ve helped.


Industry Awesome Stuff You Offer Basic Stuff They Want
Computer Technical Support Proactive, preventative services to keep their systems humming along and fully optimized. Fix my broken computer.
Nutritionist Get anybody in peak condition with better brain function, health, and energy level. Help me lose weight.
Employment Lawyer Proactive employee policies & procedures to minimize legal liability. Help!  The government is auditing our payroll records.


What does it look like for your business?  What is the awesomeness you create with your best clients?  What is the basic thing people come asking for?

Stop Shouting.  It’s Not Helping.

The normal response I see when prospective clients aren’t asking for your full awesomeness is to pitch it more often, more aggressively.  A chiropractor I met networking recently was practically imploring the room to come visit him.  “Healthy people should come in!!  We can prevent problems before they occur!”

While this is true, it’s a big challenge when you have to educate people that they have a problem.  I have a lot of problems that I already know about; I don’t really want you telling me about new issues I have.  And even if I “get it,” it’s unlikely to become urgent enough to rise to the top of my list.

Give Me What I Want, What I Really Really Want

What do your potential clients wake up in the middle of the night wanting?  This is what you should focus your marketing on.  People happily get out their wallets to satisfy a burning need.  (Click here to tweet this.)

What is your clients’ burning need?  I call this your “milk.”  You see, grocery stores prominently advertise milk.  Why?  Because it’s sexy and exciting?  No.  Because it’s high profit?  No.  They do it because almost everyone needs milk, and they need it often.  If the supermarket can get you in to buy milk, they’ve won an opportunity to offer you additional (more profitable!) items.  Maybe while you’re there you’ll pick up some nice prepared food for dinner tonight.

What is your “milk”?

Educating Your Clients is a Two-Step Process

Marketing your milk isn’t exciting, but it will actually enable you to sell more of the good stuff!  You see, milk is the way you earn a relationship with a new client.  If your milk is great, and you put it out there prominently, you will have many new prospects knocking on your door.

THEN, having established a conversation about milk, you earn the ability to educate them about other things you can help them with.  When a new client calls a tech support company to fix their computer, it’s an opportunity to ask about their backup system.  When they invite a branding firm to bid on a new logo, it’s a chance to discuss additional ways to enhance their brand.

Meet Them Where They’re At

If you want to sell more of your full awesomeness, talk about it less.  When you’re out fishing for new clients, focus on your milk.  It’s the best bait.  Appreciate where the prospective clients are at, and explain how you can solve the needs they already know they have.  That’s what gets them excited to take out their wallet, and to start to build a relationship with you.

Share Your Stories

What is the “milk” in your business?  What advice or stories can you share to help other business owners?

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