It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, the simple truth is that no-one will buy it if they don’t want it or believe they don’t need it.

Your customers have a lot of needs and that means your selling process never ends. You cannot persuade anyone to buy what you’re offering unless you understand what your customer needs are. Once you have a clear knowledge about your customer’s needs, you can use it to persuade potential and existing customers to buy from you.

So why is it important to identify customer needs?

Every business needs a reason for their customers to buy from them and not their competitors. This is called a Unique Sales Point (USP). Your USP can be identified by completing the phrase “Customers will buy from me because my business is the only…”

Your USP can change as your business or your market changes, and you can have different USPs for different types of customer personalities.

For example:

  • a printing shop could offer a free same-day delivery service for its business customers within a local area – an effective USP for businesses that need fast delivery
  • the same printing shop store could offer a 5% discount to businesses that spend more than R1,000 a month – this would be a USP for cost-conscious customers
  • the printing shop could also make sure it offers the most comprehensive stock of marketing materials in the area – a USP for local Marketing Agencies.

All these USPs can be effective because they are driven by what the customer looks for when making a buying decision. It’s a good idea to review your USPs regularly. Remember if your competitors are doing the same, your USP isn’t unique anymore.

So what do you know about your customers?

The more you know about your customers, the more effective your sales and marketing efforts will be. It’s well worth making the effort to find out. If you don’t know, try asking your customers! You can learn a great deal about your customers by talking to them.

Strong sales are driven by emphasising the benefits that your product or service brings to your customers. If you know the challenges that face them, it’s much easier to offer them solutions. You can conduct your own market research and there are many free existing tools to use like Facebook, LinkedIn reports or Google Trends that can help you build a picture of where your customers’ markets are and your business may be going.

Matching your product to customer’s needs

Sometimes, you arrive at the most suitable product by a process of elimination. For example, your customer is looking for curtains, and has told you that she doesn’t like dark colours or floral prints. So, you know that she isn’t going to be interested in a certain range of curtains that you offer, simply because they won’t match her needs. Therefore, you can eliminate those products, and focus on others.

There are six common needs that customers may have, and these must be satisfied before they will make a buying decision. Some customers may have only one or two of these needs – others may have more.

  1. Safety – The rational side of safety need is protection from personal injury. The emotional side of safety is peace of mind. Customers with this need will want you to explain all the safety features of the product.
  2. Performance – This need relates to how the product works. It is more of a rational need. Customers with this need will need you to explain how the product works and what it can do.
  3. Appearance – Can be one of the most powerful buying needs. This need is about how the product looks. Customers with this need will want you to reassure them that the product is attractive.
  4. Comfort – Can be a complex need as it relates to physical and mental comfort, ease and convenience. It is related to how easy is the product to use. Customers don’t like to be stressed each time they use it.
  5. Economy – Is all value for money. This need is closely related to performance and durability. Customers who have this need, need to be reassured that there is value for money in the product you are offering.
  6. Durability – Means how long is this product going to last? Customers are looking for things like overall quality of the product. This need is closely related to the economy need, usually customers will pay a little more for a product of they believe it will last longer.

Once you understand your customer needs and have a product that satisfies those needs then your product training to the salespeople can begin. For an intuitive way to match customers and products together have a look at our Online Strategy Creator.

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