Meeting Unmet Needs

Posted on 03/13/2018 in Selling Skills

Meeting unmet needs will help you to win new accounts and grow your business with existing customers.  To do this well requires that you do two things: First, be attentive to sales opportunities where a customer's needs are not being fully met; and, second, ask some relevant questions to confirm your intuition.  

What do we mean by unmet needs, and what are some relevant questions that you might ask? Consider the following three sales opportunities where the customer has some unmet needs:

Sales Opportunity #1: A prospective customer is using another supplier or provider other than your company, but is dissatisfied with either the product or service. For example, perhaps deliveries from the other supplier have been late, or product quality doesn't meet expectations, or service issues have not been resolved promptly. Most salespeople would agree that a dissatisfied prospective customer is a great opportunity for you to win new business and replace the other supplier. 

Questions that you could ask would include, "What would you like to improve about your current situation?" and "What if we (your company) could deliver to you in half the time (or some other relevant solution)?"

Sales Opportunity #2: One of your current customers is dissatisfied with your company.  When you run into a sales situation where your company is the provider and has created a service issue with the customer, you obviously want to solve it as promptly as possible. Fix it fast, and customer satisfaction will actually improve. But, if you fail to fix it, you run the risk of losing the customer.

If one of your customers has a problem, ask questions to find out the specifics and confirm for possible solutions. For example: "Tell me exactly what happened," "Besides that issue, was there anything else?" and "What if we did this (your solution)?" and/or "What would you like us to do?"

One important tip. In addition to these questions, be pro-active and check in regularly with your current customers to assess how satisfied they are with your company by asking something like, "What can we improve?" and "On a scale of 1 to 10, how satisfied are you with our company/product/service?"

Sales Opportunity #3: Educate the customer about other needs that they may not be aware of.  This final sales situation is one that many sales professionals overlook. In other words, they do a good job of asking what the customer needs or expects, but they don't spend any time in developing the desire for a customer for something additional that the customer has not even considered.

To clarify, let's use a personal sales situation that you can relate to. Suppose that it has been several years since you last purchased a car and you now are shopping for a new car.  When the automobile salesperson talks to you about some new safety features that didn't even exist a few years ago, she is educating you about some possible unmet and new needs. 

The important thing here is to NOT assume that the customer needs this.  After you explain it, ask a question such as, "How might this benefit you?" In business-to-business sales, another way to educate the customer is to say something like, "Other customers who are similar to you have said that (this other need or feature) has been valuable to them.  Would you like to learn more?"

Other Resources

These two earlier blogs also provide some advice and skills that will help you to identify and meet unmet needs: Providing a Solution, Not Closing a Sale and How Intelligent are your Sales Questions