Sales Advice from Hannibal LecterHannibal Lecter would have made a great salesperson. And by that, I don’t mean that he’d eat the competition for lunch.

The cannibalistic psychiatrist in The Silence of the Lambs understood that people’s actions are a result of their motivation. And he was an expert at divining human motivation, as evidenced in a pivotal scene in the movie.

FBI Agent Clarice Starling is seeking his help in identifying another serial killer. Dr. Lecter asks her, “What does he do, this man you seek?”

Starling replies, “He kills women.”

Lecter corrects her. “No, that is incidental. What needs does he serve by killing?”

Starling struggles with this question, having never considered it before. The answer to it, however, proves to be the key to solving the case.

In much the same way, understanding your prospect’s motivation is the key to boosting your sales.

Virtually everything we do—and certainly everything we buy—stems from some emotional need we’re trying to fill. Whether it’s to feel secure, happy, loved, accepted, envied, or conversely, to avoid feeling anxious, guilty, sad, lonely, scared or something else.

So what emotions are your prospects trying to achieve or avoid? And which of those emotional needs does your product or service fill?

The emotional need is the important thing. Your product or service is—as Lecter would say—incidental. Our purchases—like our other actions—are merely a means to an end. Uncover the end your prospect has in mind, and you’ll boost your sales.

Become an expert at divining people’s needs and then delivering a truly outstanding product or service that fills them, and you’ll make a killing.