Advanced Sales Training: Understanding Human Needs

Advanced Sales Training: Using the Psychology of Human Needs in California

When you understand that sales is much more about understanding human needs rather than products, services or your presentation/script, you are on your way to advanced sales skills. Sometimes people seem to be “natural born salespeople”. Why do these reps sell so effectively without much product knowledge or a formal presentation? They have an intuitive way of triggering a combination of the six human needs people must satisfy. When they present a product or service, they go beyond what the product does and why it is great and instead, trigger the subconscious needs and emotions that are satisfied by the purchase.

Meeting Sales Training needs in LA, San Francisco and throughout California

How to Increase Sales by Selling Satisfaction of the Six Human Needs
First, we need to recognize the six human needs

  • 1. Certainty
  • 2. Variety
  • 3. Love and connection
  • 4. Significance
  • 5. Contribution
  • 6. Growth

Everything we do and all of our behaviors are wired to those needs. Whether our behaviors are healthy or destructive, they are wired into our addiction to satisfy the six core human needs. The same goes for our prospects, and knowledge of this gives us the ability to exponentially increase our sales.

Understanding the six human needs that unconsciously drive sales and purchasing decisions:

CERTAINTY: We find comfort in predictability as well as safety and security.

VARIETY: We like newness, a change of pace or scenery; the thrill of something new.

LOVE and CONNECTION: We are social beings. We thrive on providing for others and being accepted. Isolation is a form of punishment and belonging to a group is pleasurable, rewarding and makes us feel more secure. At times, it even gives us that warm and fuzzy feeling we like so much.

SIGNIFICANCE: We all want to matter. We want to be recognized, known and remembered. We want to feel important and be important. Our egos like to be satisfied. Whether you are accepting the Nobel Prize or a punk instilling fear in someone, at that moment, each person is significant.

CONTRIBUTION: As the first four needs are met more successfully and those buckets are filled, it is common to gain a greater sense of satisfaction from how we make a difference in others, organizations and the world. Our need to contribute and make a difference can be a driving force.

GROWTH: Finding ways to improve and better oneself has a high degree of meaning the more each of the fundamental needs are met. Constant and never ending improvement is a goal to continually better the quality of our lives.

Note: Each of the needs frequently overlaps with other needs and they dove tail into one another. For example, someone that craves significance may find that need met by donating time and resources to a cause or individual, thus the need for contribution is also met. As they contribute and are more significant, they may also find their need for love and connection is also met as they get welcomed into a particular group or organization.

Someone else who goes into teaching may find they get their needs of significance, contribution and belonging each met by their career choice. The steady and secure work that comes from being a teacher may also satisfy their need for certainty. New students each semester and teaching multiple subjects may also play into their desire for variety.

Another person may purchase an antique car or luxury model because they see the vehicle as a way to arrive in style, thus being significant. Similarly, because their car is more prestigious than other people’s, they perceive themselves as significant. In addition they may feel they will attract love via their status or gain acceptance to a group, such as a country club. Depending on how they view things the car may also fulfill a sense of certainty or variety too.

The more core needs being met by a product, service or behavior, the more drawn to that item, action or behavior we become. When three or more of the core psychological needs are being met simultaneously, the product or behavior becomes almost addictive. Remember this is all happening subconsciously.

Let’s look at how each of these elements can be combined to become powerful motivators in a variety of sales situations.
A salesperson in Los Angeles worked for a plastic surgeon. Of course, people wanted a skilled surgeon and a safe procedure, but booking increased and decisions to move forward were made more quickly once the salesperson’s (patient rep) emphasis was shifted to the six human needs. Love, belonging and significance were easily tapped into. Even certainty became a point of leverage since many people were “certain” life or things would be different if something was just tweaked a bit by the surgeon.

Over by the ports in Long Beach, CA, an international freight team had the salespeople learn to stop selling just on price and used satisfaction of emotional needs to close more effectively. They tapped into the desire for certainty to then have their track record becoming a sales closing point. They leveraged that further with emotions of love and belonging as well as significance. As on-time delivery was improved and savings increased, the prospect would be more “loved” or accepted by management. As they improved delivery time, reduced costs, and gained recognition by management, they also would become more significant. Throughout the workshop, the reps got better and better at tapping into the prospect’s emotional drivers.

During another in-house sales workshop, an advertising sales team in San Diego, CA learned to utilize these skills to sell more ads in their publications. Ad sales increased because instead of selling ad space, they started selling satisfaction of the prospect’s ego as well as making them significant via their presence in the publication. They also felt a sense of belonging and certain that they were enhancing their brand by being in the publications presented.


  • 1. List which needs can be met via your product or service
  • 2. List how your product or service meets those needs
  • 3. Write which questions you can ask to learn which needs are most important to your prospect
  • 4. List how you can make the satisfaction of those emotions come to life for the prospect through your product or service.