How many people reading this blog have never heard a vinyl record album? How about a vacuum tube radio, amp, or receiver?

Heck, if my demographic skews young enough, there will be readers who’ve never even listened to a CD!

So did you know that you can now spend $65,000 on a new, state-of-the-art turntable?? And that fully tricked-out, two-channel home stereo systems can cost $200,000? Crazy, right?

Well there’s a reason that such extravagance seems particularly insane to most music consumers in 2010. That’s because today, convenience trumps high fidelity—so like it or not, the world of music goes ‘round on high compression digital downloads.

Of course it’s not only convenience that drove the analog-to-digital revolution—it’s also a fundamental shift in the reasons that people listen to music, and the benefits they expect to derive from it.

For me,  listening to music and absorbing the sound is a primary activity—and one from which I derive great pleasure.

For younger folks, however (who’ve grown up on highly compressed digital downloads), music is typically relegated to a background activity.  For them, spending $1,000 on a sound system, much less $200,000 would be completely senseless.

Which brings me to my point.

The market knows what it wants, and the market knows what it needs—however much you may protest.

What I mean by that is, you’ve gotta give your customers what they want, not what you want to sell them. As obvious as this sounds, I can’t tell you how many sales people I know who spin their wheels trying to cram a square notion into a round need. They have hammers, so by God, their clients are going to pound nails.

When clients tell them that they neither want nor need a particular product, add-on, or service, sales people will say things like, “But it’s part of the suite!” or “You may need this in the future!” or even, “Maybe the next guy after you will want to have it!”

What the sales person really needs to be doing however, is either getting creative or cutting the prospect loose. Getting creative could mean breaking apart your offering and selling only the product or part of your system that is germane to the prospect’s needs. It could mean finding new and different uses for the item that did not initially stimulate his interest.

You also need to be willing to take the prospect at his word. If he genuinely doesn’t care about the fidelity of his music, every breath you take in trying to sell him a $65,000 turntable is wasted—for both you and him.

If you’re at any stage of either product development or sales, ask yourself these questions:

1. What problem does my product solve?
2. Do the people I’m talking to want it solved?
3. If they do not, is there a clear path to describing the improved life/work experience that my product will offer them?

If the answer to question 2 is, “Yes!” then you are off and running. They have a problem and you have a clear solution. If the answer is “No”, then you need to very carefully analyze and assess question 3.