Are Customer Needs Assessments Dead? Part One

As we navigate the changes in our world right now, I think it’s important to focus on the Customer Needs Assessment (CNA.) We’re living in a world where people are limited in cash, limited on funds, and certainly limited on patience. So how do we expect someone we’re selling to to actually understand what they need vs. what they want?

Think about your typical CNA. It is likely focused on what an advertising customer wants and not what they need. Think about all the questions you ask – what’s your budget, what are your goals, and what’s the biggest business challenge for you.

It’s all focusing on what they want. They want paying customers, they want new business, they want to retain business. It really should be called the Customer Wants Assessment, right?

If we don’t actually guide them toward what they need, they’re going to come back to us in the coming weeks or months and say they didn’t get the return on investment that they needed. And so a lot of the time they didn’t get what they needed because we gave them what they wanted.

Adding Powerful Recommendations to Your CNA

There are a lot of impatient people out there right now, and it can be difficult to deal with impatient people when you’re selling. They try to tell you what they want, and you’re trying to convince them what they need. So I’d like to talk to you about offering recommendations instead.

We can use recommendations to coach our own customers on why they need something and what they need to buy. Then we can get them to a point where we not only fulfill their wants, but we actually get to the heart of what they need.

Harvard Business Review had a review of 600 top sales professionals, and here’s what they found out: Most sales reps rely on a customer to coach them through the sales process. Now for the superstar sales reps I work with, we know the questions we need to ask the customer to find out what it is they truly need beyond what they want.

But still, most customers are going to struggle to identify an exact need. For example, they might say, “I need more customers.” So I may say, “When you say ‘customers,’ can you be more specific? Tell me more about the specific customers you’re looking for.”

Use Comparative Selling to Fuel Your Recommendations

Creating a comparative conversation helps you draw out ego, helps you draw out emotion, and helps you draw out logic. Sometimes I’ll ask my clients things like, “Who do you feel does a great job of marketing here in our community or industry?” I suppose they could say, “Nobody does.” But typically they always give an example.

And then I’ll ask, “Do you want to be like them, better than them, less than them? Do you want to be competitive with them, or do you want to dominate them?”

What I don’t ask them is their budget. Because if you ask them what their budget is, they’re probably going to give you a number based on their reality. Not the reality of marketing in the community where you live or the industry they serve.

Don’t miss next week to get more tips and get Ryan’s must-ask questions for your CNA!

About Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an award-winning ad sales training coach, a nationally recognized internet sales consultant, and an international motivational speaker. He is the author of the best-selling ad sales book, Selling Backwards.  He is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media and 360 Ad Sales Training, a boutique ad sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting and media revenue generation. Ryan is also the Publisher of Sales Training World.