What does it have to do with business strategy?
Every company makes money by satisfying its customers' needs. It sounds like common sense, but why do so many companies fail in doing this job? There may be many reasons for that, but from my experience, the most common cause is misconceptions about the customers' genuine desires. For example, entrepreneurs believe that their customers need new software, a smartphone, a piece of furniture, a mobile app, or pair of jeans. But consumers don't think this way.
• A user-friendly software means comfort and a feeling of safety for a user
• A product's high quality may mean an ability to do one's job without taking risks to fail at their jobs
• Excellent service also means comfort or a feeling of being exceptional, belonging to a wealthy minority, etc.
Diving deeply into customers' basic needs is exceptionally valuable because it widens the spectrum of possible strategic solutions. For example, imagine your typical client, a decision-maker, is a procurement manager working for a processing plant. During a negotiation, she tells you she's interested in "fast delivery service," meaning that she'd like to have your products in her warehouse as quickly as possible after placing an order. If you follow her words, the only solution you can offer is fast delivery.
But what does she really want? Maybe she wants to do her job without worrying about out-of-stock situations, being at the same time squeezed by the procurement budget and the warehouse capacity. So what can you possibly suggest to her and her company?
• A fast delivery (or "just in time" supply) service
• A sophisticated software helping her analyse and forecast demand for your products
• A warehouse full of your products close to hers
• An inventory management service
In my strategic workshops, we dive deeply into customers' basic needs. Of course, we don't try to understand every customer, which doesn't make sense. But, using my methods based on Reiss's theory, we try to walk in a typical client's shoes and imagine their desires, fears, superstitions, beliefs, convictions, etc. It is one of the most efficient tools I know to awaken the team's creativity. Certainly, preparations are required - all the team members go to see customers beforehand and try to learn how they live and work.
If you work for a company, you and your customers see your products and solutions from different points of view. Therefore, believing or even knowing that your product is perfect is not enough. You won't be able to persuade your clients to buy your product until you start looking at it as they do.
Send me a message if you need help understanding your customers' basic needs.
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