Sometimes I think we are kidding ourselves.
We think we know what the customer wants or needs just become they have told us so. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? But let me ask you this – how many times have you been told something only so find out that it wasn’t really true, or that you simply “misunderstood?” More often than not, if you’re like most.
Let’s face it, customers often do not know what they need or even want. Even the most sophisticated clients often have gross misunderstandings when it comes to their specific product or service needs. So why do we focus so much on customer needs and desires?
Nearly every sales presentation in every industry is centered on “what the client needs and wants.” It’s not surprising that most sales presentations either are ignored or are a blatant waste of time for both the salesperson as well as the client. Moreover, marketing material is even less effective. How many web sites get passed over? How many brochures are thrown in the trash? How many ads go unread? How many dials are flipped when a TV or radio commercial comes on? I hate to be negative, but in order to bring about improvement we must discover where we are lacking. In an effort to compensate for this, most ad agencies, marketing companies, and consumer brands go to great lengths to learn as much as they can about customer needs and wants. They hire research firms, hold focus groups and conduct needs-based analysis. In the end however, all they end-up with is a vision of what the customer “thinks” they might need or want under any given set of circumstances. Who can predict what the circumstances of the future may be. Certainly focusing on customer needs is not enough.
The bottom-line is that it is often difficult for clients to describe what they need or want. Often times they simply don’t know. Pride often prevents them from saying so. It is far easier for a client to describe a specific outcome under a given set of circumstances rather than articulate plain needs regarding a product or service.
My advice is to get your clients to tell you the “outcomes” they are looking for. Spend most of you time talking about what the future should look like rather than how your product or service fits their needs.
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Have a great week!