“We need dresses from the 1920’s, Marjorie,” I said. “Really good ones. Rich lady dresses.”

“You wanna start by looking upstairs? In the Collections?”

The archly named “Collection” was a small area on the third floor where the Lowtsky’s sold their rarest and most precious finds.

“We don’t have the budget just now to even be glancing as the Collection.”

“So you want rich lady dresses but at poor lady prices?”

Edna laughed: “You’ve identified our needs perfectly, my dear.”

Excerpt from City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

In sales, a need has to exist for it to be called a sale.

How would you know what to offer if you didn’t know what was in need?

Think back to a time when you felt pressured into a sale, felt like you weren’t heard, weren’t valued as a customer, and left with a charge on your credit card that was full of regret.

The times I’ve regretted a purchase are when I bought something I didn’t need, didn’t actually want, and felt pressured into saying yes and handing over my credit card. There have been occasions when I’ve returned an item and received a refund, which took considerable time and energy, and further tainted the experience with a brand.

Asking a customer outright “what do you need?” may not provide the answers you need to assist them. There are times when the customer may not know themselves or be able to articulate their need.

Asking questions, listening, and understanding the customer will highlight needs. Further investigation by asking specific questions based on what you learn from your customer will help to clearly define the need, which is why it’s important to talk about needs.