Shattering a big myth in Sales!


By Anubhav Srivastava


Conventional sales wisdom says that everyone is not your customer. That’s true! Just because there are thousands of types of fish in the sea, it doesn’t mean all of them are edible! But conventional sales wisdom also says the following –  you should sell to someone who needs you. That’s a myth or at least incomplete knowledge.

Your ideal prospect is supposed to be someone who has a problem or a need that you can solve. But are they automatically ideal?

What if the person who you feel has a problem doesn’t even believe that they have a problem? What if they are happy the way they are?

There is an old story where two salesmen are sent to a remote part of Africa to inspect if there is a market for shoes. Upon reaching there, both the salesmen observe that no one wears shoes. One salesman is pessimistic and says, there is no market as no one wears shoes. The other comes back excited and says, there is an unlimited market as no one wears shoes!

Who is right? Well, the answer depends on how much patience (and cash) you have.

You can argue there is an unlimited market, but is there any demand? What if the people don’t even believe they need shoes? How much time and effort would it take to convince people to wear shoes when no one around them is wearing them? Realistically speaking it would take a very long amount of time to convince these people to wear shoes as a habit. It would be a sort of change that could take decades to be embraced fully by the society. So you are going to spend tons of money to advertise, educate and convince a handful of people to buy some shoes from you. This is the sort of venture that is probably not going to pay off sufficiently for at least a decade, maybe even more.

The reason for that is that while you are following what sales wisdom says, that is to fill a need in a market place, most of these people don’t even realize they need you, are extremely hard to convince and will take a massive amount of time to fully embrace what you are selling. Huge businesses sitting on piles of cash maybe able to pull it off over a considerable period of time but most businesses with limited capital cannot wait that long and will shut down if they focus exclusively on this sort of market.

Most businesses are better off serving markets where people are ALREADY USING shoes and are willing to spend money on them. This way, in order to sell they only need to differentiate themselves from the competition in an existing market but don’t need to spend huge amounts of money to create a new market.

So just because you think someone needs you doesn’t mean they really need you. Let me share with you a couple more examples to make my point. People who really need health supplements the most are people who are highly unfit. But most of these unfit people don’t even feel they need to change, not unless they have are actively trying hard to change. The ones who are already exercising and spending money on other health supplements are the ones who are going to pay for a new health supplement on the market because they are willing to pay and have the capacity to pay.

The people who need motivation the most are people who are extremely lazy and not driven at all. But the people who benefit the most from motivational talks, seminars and books are those who have already committed to change and are in a position to put the knowledge they gain to use.

Furthermore, even if someone really wants your product/service doesn’t necessarily mean they are a prospect as they may not have the capacity to pay.

Everyone has desired a luxury car at some point, so there is clearly a huge want in the marketplace. But have you ever wondered why luxury brands almost never advertise on TV?

It’s because people who can afford those cars, don’t waste time watching TV!

Luxury brands do spend money on marketing and distribution but they do only in areas where they know they are going to get to their target market the quickest.

SO, just because someone needs you or just because you can solve a problem of theirs, doesn’t mean they are going to buy.  Unless you are a big business with something innovative and have massive financial resources, you should not waste any time trying to create demand in an unqualified market, even if you feel it needs you. Your highest converting prospects will not be those who need you the most but those who are already paying for similar services/products and have the capacity to pay at your desired price point.

The only two questions you need to ask is “Who uses the kind of products I sell?” and “Who’s got the money to afford it?”.  Identify those people, do something to differentiate yourself from the competition and then attack that market!


To invite Anubhav Srivastava to speak at your organization, send an email to Read more about him at