BD tips and insights

By Linda Julian

Get to grips with client needs

November 20, 2013 | Posted in: Business Development Skills | Tags:

Clients have needs and wants.  Some needs they recognise, others they don’t.  Some wants they articulate, others are unspoken [but still wanted].

Sustainable success is founded on harnessing professional knowledge and skills to meet wants and needs of clients in ways which produce value for both parties.

Core to this process is understanding what clients need and want.

Beyond old favourite techniques like having a chat, here is a small selection of areas to explore to get a better grip on client needs.

Understand how clients use your work

Come to a clear understanding about what happens to the work you do when it’s put into the hands of your clients.

  • How do they react to your work when they first see it?
  • How does it fit into their production processes?
  • Who does what with it?
  • Where does it end up?
  • What decisions or actions depend on your recommendations?
  • What could/should change in your work to make it easier for your client to use?

Understand problems your clients confront

This happens at several levels – for business clients, from your front-line contact right through the organisational hierarchy.

By understanding the everyday problems or challenges faced by the individual with whom you deal, you’ll get an important perspective on his/her individual needs within the organisation.

  • How does your work impact that individual’s KPIs or next management appraisal?

Roll that all the way up to an enterprise-wide level:

  • What are the pressures and challenges the organisation faces?
  • What are the problems that your work is directed to managing or alleviating?
  • How significant is your work and what is its impact on the enterprise?

Understand what industry leaders are up to

Not all your clients will be at the forefront of their respective fields.  It’s worth a close look at how the “out there” industry leaders and others racing for market dominance use your work or, services similar to those you offer.  Consider how industry leaders relate to expert professional service providers.

Often, you can understand more about the latent needs of your clients by seeing how their serious competitors leverage value from their selected experts.

Understand changes afoot

Get a handle on the changes in the “big picture” – political, economic, social, technological – likely to impact your clients.

Legal and regulatory change, dynamics of financial markets and industrial cycles, population and lifestyle changes, and the state of knowledge and tools available to your clients to respond will translate into new and different needs.

Each client’s strategic planning horizon becomes your horizon in planning your business with them.

Understand what excites your clients

Comprehension of needs is incomplete without a clear grasp of those needs (or, more likely, wants) which matter to the point of creating some level of excitement about what it is you can do and/or how you can deliver it.

Only by focusing on those factors which can take your service offering beyond merely “measuring up” will you understand how to differentiate yourself sufficiently to excite the right attention from your client.

Opening serious, in-depth conversations with clients about their needs and wants will arm you with essential information to respond appropriately and profitably for both parties, and to stimulate favourable decisions and action.

We can help, please get in touch.

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