How to Clearly Define Client Needs: Preparing for a Meeting

Prepare, prepare, prepare! Preparation is crucial to every step of sales and affects how well you’re able to define your client’s needs.  Be prepared to serve as a salesperson-guide.

There are two categories of client needs that can be identified: known needs and unperceived needs. The first are easy to establish through simple questions and short answers. These are needs the client is already aware of and can often be identified before the meeting.

Here’s an example in a retail context: a customer goes to a store to buy a coffee machine.

  • What kind of machine does the customer need?
  • What does the customer need to be able to use the machine effectively?
  • Where will the customer be using the machine?

You can even adapt these questions for your next meeting to identify the client’s known needs.

The second category refers to needs that the client hasn’t yet thought of. These needs can be established by asking questions that will make them think. Prepared beforehand, these questions are more open-ended and will help build trust because they show your high level of competency. Using the same example as before:

  • Why do you need a new machine?
  • What’s your definition of a good coffee?
  • What are your concerns with respect to maintaining the machine?

You might think it seems obvious that you should ask these questions. However, 80% of salespeople only address known needs! What does this mean for the customer? If all salespeople are selling the same product, price becomes the main decision-making criteria since there’s no differentiation.

However, if you’re able to get the customer thinking about needs they weren’t aware of, you set yourself apart from the crowd. The client will then be more inclined to buy the product from you.

How can you best define client needs in your industry?