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Understanding Customers and their Needs and Wants

Updated: Feb 14

Customer need is a current issue or problem that a prospect customer intends to address with a selected intervention.  

As Steve Jobs said, “You've got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology. You cannot start with the technology and try to figure out when you will sell it”.

Understanding customer needs

It’s tempting when visiting prospect customers to talk about products and services, and your organization from the get-go. Why? Because we are familiar and ready for this kind of conversation, but is the prospect customer ready too? It’s essential to take a step back and understand what your prospect customers really want and need before commencing a detailed discussion on your offerings and how these can assist the prospect customer in anyway.

One of the best ways, and surprisingly most overlooked ways, to understand your prospect customers' needs and wants, is by engaging in a discussion about their business and goals. It's only when you really understand their situation and challenges that you can really offer a ‘real solution’ to them and therefore genuinely creating value for both.

The key to this is not to assume that all prospect customers have the same needs and wants – one size doesn’t always fit all. Although they may have similar high-level needs and wants, every prospect customer is unique. They have their own challenges, expectations, past experiences, decision-making process, and resources, including budget.

Show genuine interest and ask discovery questions

Show you care and show that you have a genuine interest towards your prospects’ business. Ask sincere questions! Help your prospect to share with you information that is vital to assisting them. Typically, such questions need to be open-ended questions (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How). Such questions will help identify focus topics, potential needs/issues, sense of urgency to act, previous actions taken, and resources available.

Examples of such questions:

  • What improvements are you working on at the moment?

  • Why now?

  • What solutions have you considered?

  • What were the results?

  • What would you do differently this time?

Keep your conversation alive and interesting by asking clarifying questions such as:

  • Tell me more …?

  • Explain how …?

  • What impact does that have on your business?

By understanding your prospect customers, you will be in a better position to help them out.


It's all about investing the time to truly connect and understand your prospect customers and not rush to the end. Your customer’s success is what will make your own success. Start your day by thinking “What is that I can do today that will help my customers”.

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