Maintaining a competitive edge depends on giving your customers the products and services they want and need. However, sometimes figuring out exactly which products and services will meet customer needs the best is challenging, and understanding how to communicate benefits to customers adds yet another layer of complexity.
Start with a customer needs analysis to help clarify where to focus your efforts. At its simplest, a customer needs analysis is just a process of identifying what requirements your customer has for the goods or services you sell. Of course, some products or services are more straightforward, and customers can have many layers of reasoning behind what they want.
For example, let’s look at a simple product such as a wristwatch. One customer may want a sophisticated smartwatch that integrates with cell phone technology to track fitness and answer messages. Behind those needs may be an additional desire to maximize productivity or keep up with the latest technology.
Another customer, however, may not be interested in the features and benefits of a smartwatch. Some may see a watch as a status symbol or piece of jewelry that signals wealth. Others may be interested in telling time. A nurse may want a watch with a second hand or similar tracking to take a pulse, whereas a child may be interested in a watch with a favorite character.
Trying to wrap your marketing and sales efforts around all these complex needs, desires, and motivations can seem overwhelming. To simplify, employ the SPIN Model of customer needs analysis.
Take a SPIN
“The SPIN Model categorizes the questions you need to ask for your customer needs analysis into four essential areas:
- S – SITUATION – What’s going on?
- P – PROBLEM – What is missing/happening that your customer wants but doesn’t have?
- I – IMPLICATION – What would happen if you couldn’t meet your goals?
- N – NEEDS/PAYOFF – What would happen if you could meet your goals/solve their problem?
The types of questions you ask to fill in the SPIN model are important and will reveal how much you understand about what your customers need and want. Here are a few guidelines to help you prepare:
- Do your homework. Consider what you already know as you write the questions to analyze customer needs. Ask customer service representatives for insight, research your competition, and look at your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
- Ask simple questions. One key principle for getting customers to respond to surveys is asking simple, easy-to-answer questions requiring little effort. “On a scale of one to ten, how likely are you to recommend this product? What is the one thing you would like to have on the next update? Are you satisfied with your purchase?” Customers are more likely to respond to surveys when they can do so quickly and effortlessly. These short, simple questions can sometimes serve as a way to guide customers into a deeper conversation.
- When possible, ask open-ended questions. Not every customer will be willing to participate in a long, open-ended conversation about needs, features, and benefits, but some will. Whenever possible, take the opportunity to engage with those customers more profoundly. Frame your questions in a way that guides your customers to give more complete answers and leads to deeper clarifying questions. Questions that begin with “how,” “why,” and “what” will generally require more than one-word or short responses. “How did that product meet/not meet your expectations? What features would you like to have? Why did you purchase this product?”
- Build your credibility. Building your credibility through customer interviews or surveys should be simple if you did your homework. Customers will see from the questions you ask that you already understand their needs and wants deeply. But if your research leads to more questions, be candid. Tell your customers that you want to provide the best products and services on the market, and you need to dive deeper into their answers to get a complete picture.
You can use the SPIN Model to help develop new offerings, refine existing ones, market to new prospects, or serve your existing customers better. Using SPIN as a framework, you will improve communication and develop lifelong customer relationships.
- What is one common piece of feedback we get from customers?
- What is one open-ended question we can ask customers to understand their needs better?
- Is there one customer or prospect we can use as an avatar for a SPIN assessment?