Business Buying Tactics: From Want-Need To Preference-Premium

Think about your goals for your business, especially when it comes to dealing with vendors or purchasing new products or services. It’s a good bet that your first complete sentence began with “I want…” or “I need…”

We may have been trained to use different phrasing, but the idea of wants and needs still drives how we act and what we buy – even in a corporate setting.

A classic preparation for team buying is to make two lists of potential features:

  1. Need-to-have (“We need”)
  2. Nice-to-have (“We want”)

There are two problems with this.

First, some things fall in-between the two lists. Not quite needs… but more than wants.

Second, who wants to be needy? Or wanting? It’s bad negotiating posture. (Plus, it’s just not classy).


As an alternative, I encourage clients to consider (and document) Preference and Premium.



What type of solution / product / features would you prefer?

Why would that be preferred? How does that translate to your business goals?



Would you pay extra for that preference?

A little bit more, or a lot more?

Being specific is not required: simply stating a slight preference, moderate preference, or strong preference will prepare you to talk to vendors and make a better decision.

This is not Wordplay: the language reflects moving from premise of SCARCITY (need and want) to SURPLUS (having enough, but looking to add maximum value). More on that theme to come…

And it’s a GREAT feeling to sit down with a potential vendor – or a car salesman – without any needs or wants. Just a few well-considered preferences, some of which you’d be willing to pay for. Now, isn’t that civilized?


Here are some other excellent articles on our site that can help you gain the best possible for your business in any type of purchasing situations:

Business Buyer Beware: The “Lowest Price” Mirage 

Expensive Sentences: Common Buying Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Bottom Line


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