If you want your business to succeed, you have to sell the right products and services that your customers need. However, knowing what your customers need right now is the easy part. It is more beneficial for the business to figure out what your customers need before they even realize it.
It has never been an easy task to get to know the customer enough to predict what they need, but it is even more difficult now that consumers are being bombarded with distractions and options. They, too, often struggle to figure out what exactly they need because they are overwhelmed with information, stimulating ads, and shelves of products to choose from. Even the familiar salesperson of the old days, who, with one look, can deduce who the customer is and what they want, will struggle to help the buyer find exactly what they are looking for.
So, how can businesses more effectively sell to customers?
Nowadays, data gathering and analytics are enabling marketers and businesses to create highly personalized recommendations at the right time and at the right place.
Some basic information about the customer, including their background and lifestyle, can be acquired through an online survey system. After-sale feedback, which asks about the customer’s experience while shopping and of their purchase, can also request details about them such as age, location, marital status, or income level.
However, in addition, businesses and marketers are also collecting data based on clickstream. Clickstream refers to the history of a participant’s activity on a certain website. It records pages visited, time spent on the page, and what they did next.
Pushing the right ad to the consumer when they are in the mood to make a purchase will make them more likely to do what you want, which is to spend their money on your product or service.
Identify a Problem that Needs to be Solved
Consumers only know the type of products that they have seen before, never the kind that they actually need. So, instead of leading with a product, the goal should be to identify the problem that your customer is experiencing and figure out how to solve it.
Think of Henry Ford and the “faster horse.” One of the most famous quotes attributed to the industrialist is, if he asked people what they wanted, they would have said “faster horse.” Ford, of course, did not make horses run faster. He made a mode of transportation faster than a horse.
He did not deliver exactly what customers asked for, he gave them a product that they may not have wanted, but they needed.
A more recent example is Netflix. Before becoming a streaming giant, it was a subscription-based movie rental service that sent DVDs through the mail. At the time, it was the only one of its kind but the company knew that its hold of the market would end once a bigger competitor, like Blockbuster, entered the scene.
What Netflix did was not to offer better selection or quick delivery. Blockbuster, which was a bigger brand at the time, will beat them to it. What they did instead was to create a more convenient and almost instantaneous way of receiving content. Thus, the Netflix you know and love today was born.
Think of not how to improve a current product or service, but focus on determining the problem that your business should address. That is how you can fulfill a need in the life of your customer before they even realize what it is that they are searching for.
Hire a Diverse Team
Diversity in business is not just for compliance. It will benefit your business.
Hiring people from all backgrounds meant that you will have a team that thinks in different and sometimes contrasting ways. They bring their own experiences and expertise to the table. When they come up with an idea, everyone does not just agree. They all discuss, debate, perform surgery on it until they can put forward an out-of-the-box but effective solution.
IBM does it by sending senior teams from various disciplines in order to meet with and understand customers.
Knowing what your customers want before they even realize it is an advantage. It helps increase sales and, therefore, profits. It also puts your business ahead of your competitors.
While it is not easy, it is not impossible, either. Just look at other companies that managed to predict what customers want. Once they knew, they grew their businesses and dominated the market.