In my mind, I have an (over-simplified or over-complicated?) hierarchy like this:
1) They NEED it, but don’t know they need it yet.
You can’t sell to these people yet. You’re going to have to educate them first, and generate the demand.
2) They KNOW they need it, but don’t want it yet.
You can’t sell to these people either. They’re educated enough to know they need it, but not motivated enough to do anything about it. (I know I need to do more exercises for my back, but I don’t want to enough to do anything about it yet.)
3) They WANT it, but aren’t looking for it yet.
(They may or may not NEED it – after all, who really “needs” that nicer car or bigger TV?) If you can get what they want in front of them, then there’s a chance you can sell it to them.
4) They want it, and are actively LOOKING for it.
Ooo… now we’re cooking. Sales happen when we get the right product in front of the right people at the right time.
The right people are the people who are ready, willing, and able to buy it.
The right time is when they’ve decided to buy it.
This is simple demand fulfilment… just sit at the bottom of the hill and catch the people charging down to you with their credit card in hand.
There’s a difference between demand generation, and demand fulfilment.
One is easier than the other, and it makes sense to start with one before the other.