Understanding Demand

People only buy what they want to buy.

To sell something - be it a service or product - you need demand.

You can't force or oblige someone to make a transaction with you. This means that to agree to this exchange, people must have some interest in what you are offering.

This sounds incredibly obvious. But still, most consulting firms struggle to see the difference between sales and demand.

As Steve Carlotti puts it,

Sales is what you buy. Demand is what you want. Growth comes from bringing the two together.

Sure, you can't sell air - you need an offering, a solution that people can hire or purchase. And as a consultant, you have some level of expertise. Your specialty is solving specific problems for specific people and organizations, so coming up with a solution shouldn't be the hard part.

That's why if you're not growing, chances are the missing ingredient in this recipe is demand. There's simply not enough interest in what you sell. You don't have enough demand.

Which takes us to the million-dollar question: How do you increase demand?

Luckily for us, there is an actual answer to this. When we look back at the history of trade - moving from exchanging goods and services without money to a globalized and connected network of markets - we can see that some things never change. Humans are still making decisions, and we still won't buy something we're not interested in.

There are only two ways to increase interest in your offerings:

  1. By capturing existing demand in your market.
  2. By creating new demand for your services.

They are not mutually exclusive. They both have pros and cons, and will require different skills and capabilities from you and your team. And what you choose here will directly impact your business model, your positioning and reputation, and your profitability.

In the next few days, I'll explore in more depth market demand - showing the difference between those two approaches, discussing the challenges involved, and sharing what I believe is the best way consultants should look at this.

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