You Don’t Know Your Customer

A few days ago, someone I don’t know found me through LinkedIn and did a sufficiently good job of getting my attention to get me to commit to a 15-minute call.

When the call came, which was precisely on time, the first thing the caller said was “Did you watch the videos?” Yes, in going through their marketing funnel, the follow-up to my accepting their invite and scheduling a meeting was instructions to watch two videos before our call.

No, I said. She then began some forced small talk until I said “You have 15 minutes. Please say what you need to say.” Then she began asking me scripted questions.

After the first one, I said “You’re looking for information you can use to close me, and you have no idea what I do or what I might need. Why I may be interested in your company or its service. My answer is complicated, and without a better understanding of who I am and my practice, any answer is meaningless.”

The failure of organizations to understand my needs before trying to serve their wants by selling me their products or services never ceases to amaze me.

As a routine part of my business development efforts, I recently spoke to the President of a large industry Association I have decades of experience in. He asked what I had that would be of value to his members. I said that wasn’t up to me, it was up to him and his members to tell me what they need. Then I can determine if I can provide anything of value.

Therein lies a simple, fatal mistake too many successful businesses make; they believe they know what their customers need AND what they want, which is usually right. Where they fail is in recognizing those needs and wants change over time, and it’s not the responsibility of the client to keep the vendor informed. 😵

I want to emphasize that.

When the needs and wants of your clients change, it’s your responsibility to know it and to know what those needs and wants now are. It is NOT the responsibility of your customer to notify you.

Every one of your competitors is researching that very thing right now, this very day, and trying to lure your clients away by offering them more of what they need and want than you do. When your alignment with those needs and wants gets sufficiently detached for your client’s reality, your competitors win. 😨

Maintaining a clear understanding of your clients wants and needs requires an accurate, empathic awareness that comes from a closeness to them. That’s step one. Knowing when it’s time to adjust your offerings to ensure they remain aligned with client needs and wants is step two and a much more difficult task.

Your business exists to serve your clients. If you don’t KNOW the answer to the questions above, how can you be prepared to serve them until they ask for something? Wouldn’t it be ideal if you could anticipate their needs and wants and be ready to deliver on them when asked, rather than looking for ways to get around doing something you’re not prepared to do?

This can only be achieved through regular, ongoing conversations with each of your clients, whether by leadership or staff. And as long as staff are fully engaged, the message should get through.

Do you want the successful organization you’ve built to survive? If so, you must learn how to identify and evaluate your clients’ needs and wants long before your offerings become irrelevant or obsolete.


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