What “Faster Horses” Can Teach You About Your Prospect’s Journey. by Matt DiMaio

Matt DiMaio


Henry Ford is reputed to have stated: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Like many quotes attributed to famous people, it’s not entirely clear whether Ford actually said it or not. However, this quote makes a good point. Unfortunately, it’s one that is often misunderstood.

Steve Jobs had a similar observation. He is recorded as saying: “A lot of times people don’t know what they want… until you show it to them”.


Here’s a way of thinking about those 2 quotes that may be helpful in dealing with your prospective customers and reps.

It is likely that you will be met with a great deal of resistance and sometimes even downright negativity if you approach people too directly with the features of your product, service, or business plan.

Whenever an idea is outside someone’s present mental framework, you will be far more persuasive if you first understand what benefits your prospect would like to gain.

Ideas that are completely new to the person you’re speaking with, will most often be met with rejection. However, when you focus on solving their problems, they will be far more receptive to listening to what you’ve got to say.


In the Henry Ford example, suppose the presentation was focused on the impressive mechanics of the automobile, the sturdy craftsmanship, and its clever design. If that were the case, then far fewer vehicles would have been sold.

Contrast that to focusing the sales message on being able to arrive at your destination in a fraction of the time. Add that to the additional benefits of being far more comfortable during your travels, while also remaining neat and clean compared to riding in an open wagon or on horseback.

It’s easy to understand that concentrating on the benefits of what you offer rather than the features will yield far greater success.


In training I have conducted for salespeople over the course of several decades, there is one point I seek to drill home over and over.

The single biggest mistake salespeople make is that they begin a presentation without first knowing enough about their prospect.

Go back and read that last sentence again, out loud.

The more you know about what is important to your prospect – the better you understand the problems they want to solve – then the faster and easier it will be for you to have them join you as a customer or as a new recruit.

Simply put, you’ll close more business and earn more money.


Don’t start your presentation by telling me about your miracle ingredients, your patented formula, your amazing technology, and your mind-blowing hybrid pay plan with all the compression and roll-up. I don’t care about the founders, or the big shots getting involved. At least not just yet.

Tell people what they want to know first. Find out what problems they want to solve. Explain how you can make their lives easier and more comfortable with what you offer.

You won’t know how to do any of that until you ask the right questions. You must learn enough about your prospect to address those issues first. Once you’ve done that, then you can begin covering some of those other details, when it’s more appropriate.

Keep that quote from Steve Jobs in mind. People don’t know that they want what you’ve got until you show it to them… in the correct way.

Remember, your prospects want “faster horses”. 

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Matt DiMaio
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