Very often we think that we know what our client needs, and maybe it is, but unless you hear it from your client specifically you are still only guessing. Here are some needs that can be addressed:
What is the organisation trying to accomplish or avoid? These can be categorised as:
- Strategic—The need to increase revenue and growth. The need to expand into a new market. The need to reduce expenses. (Not a strategic or marketing plan or a cost reduction analysis).
- Technical—The need to have their servers up and running at all times. The need to operate more efficiently. The need to launch a new product. (Not a new monitoring service or time / motion study or new logo).
- Financial—The need for ideas on how to become more profitable. The need to sell the business. The need to improve sales results. (Not a tax return or valuation or sales compensation study).
- Political/Environmental—The need to bring a new acquisition into the fold. The need to allow a new store to be built. The need to avoid bad publicity. (Not an employee survey or a grassroots campaign or a series of press releases).
What is influencing the individual or individuals who will decide to engage our services? These are the needs that are often unspoken and less obviously connected to our services. While you cannot always uncover these types of needs directly, by being aware of what may be going on, you can be alert to the obstacles that can keep you from connecting your services with your prospects needs.
- Professional—To get a promotion. To prepare for a new job. To become well-known. To gain experience in new areas. To do a good job.
- Social—To impress the neighbours. To be accepted and respected by peers. To have a nice place to hang out.
- Psychological—To avoid risk. To take risk. To have someone to talk to. To please the boss. To gain recognition.
Determining Your Client Needs
How do you uncover your clients’ true needs and position your services in a way that fulfils their organisational and individual needs? I suggest the following exercise to get you thinking about how your clients view your services and how you can define them in terms of your clients needs.
- Bring your key principals, partners, or business developers together for a brain storming session.
- Think of all the clients you currently have. Why did they seek you out? What needs did they have that caused them to look for a service provider?
- Think about the last sales conversations you had. How did your prospects speak about their needs?
- Try to use the words that your clients and prospects use, not the marketing speak you use to describe your services.
- On a flip chart, write all the needs that you have down the left-hand side.
- On the right-hand side, write the services you provide.
- Connect the needs to the services. Which ones satisfy the most needs? Are there any needs you have listed for which you have no services? Should you have those services?
- Develop the questions that will help you uncover these needs in future conversations.
- Continually refine and reshape your needs list as you engage new conversations and new clients.
- Repeat the process as needed.
So, the next time you are asked what your clients need, you will be prepared to answer with the real reasons they seek out your services. You will make better connections, develop stronger relationships, and most likely find new clients in the process.