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How to Tell What Your Customers Need vs. What They Want [Podcast]

Episode 47: Michael and Kathryn warn against the danger of assuming your customers accurately know what they need. There's nothing worse than setting yourself (and your customer) up for failure from the get go. Sometimes a customer will say they need X, when what they really need is Y. Discover the best ways to suss out their true needs so that you can help them achieve their objectives and goals. Become a better Passion and Provision company by giving this podcast episode a listen.

A meeting with clients


In This Episode You Will Learn:

  • The best questions to ask a client or customer to assess their true needs

  • Client/customer scenarios to watch out for

  • How 'Fuzzy Terms' play a key role in your communication with your customers

  • Why you really can't provide service that is low price, high quality, AND fast

  • Why knowing a client or customer's true needs will help grow your Passion and Provision company

 

"In a Passion and Provision company, ideally, you are serving clients who KNOW that they need your services and you KNOW that you can help them."

– Kathryn Redman

 

Ready to take a listen? Like what you hear? Make sure you become a subscriber to get the latest and greatest of our podcast episodes. 

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Michael:           Hi there and welcome. Have you ever had a prospect or customer come in asking for something? But you realize from your experience, that's not what they really need? And you had to figure out how to get to what they really needed? And help them believe it? Well, today on the podcast, we're going to talk about that. Hi there, Welcome to HaBO Village Podcast, I'm Michael Redman.


Kathryn:
         And I'm Kathryn Redman.


Michael:
         And welcome to our podcast today. We're really glad you're here. Thank you for taking the time to be with us. And today we're going to talk about that unique scenario where you have a client or prospect come in and they say “I want X".


Kathryn:
         And you say, tell me a little bit more. And you'd discover that while you could give them X if you give them x, but you don't give them I don't know the alphabet that comes before X. It is not going to work out well for either of you.


Michael:
         Because what they really need is not X at the moment, they need something else. So and what they've done is they've self diagnosed a little bit and they thought, well, this is what I'm doing. Especially when they're new prospect and they come in and they say I need this and you're, “Okay, well tell me a little bit more about that and why” So let's talk about that today because, well, we were in a meeting with one of our staff or actually with several of our staff and we were talking about this issue and one of our staff Chris -


Michael:
         He just nailed this he just all of a sudden you got to picture this we've got a great staff and Chris is a little on the introverted quiet side doesn't always say a lot he thinks he's very thoughtful he ponders and -


Kathryn:
         And then he just like breaks out with these comments and has the best [crosstalk 00:01:36]


Michael:
         And has this great pearls sometimes[crosstalk 00:01:38]


Kathryn:
         So we're talking about clients that come in, and they say, this is what I want, and we'll tell you a little bit more about that. But they have no idea, and they're missing like so many things they would need to have in place for that to happen [crosstalk 00:01:52]


Michael:
         So he says it's like,


Kathryn:
         So he says, it's like going to the doctor and saying “I need sleeping pills”


Michael:
         I'm having trouble sleeping at night.


Kathryn:
         Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa. Then Let's back up. Why is it you're drinking espresso at 11PM, right? So the concept of, the doctor's never just going to give you a sleeping pill because you say you need a sleeping pill. They're going to back up and diagnose you a little bit.


Michael:
         I was dying and then the next thing out of his mouth is, "And maybe you need to consider not living next to the railroad tracks"


Kathryn:
         Yeah. So lots of symptoms that perhaps they think they know the answer to, and yet, they don't have they don't have the whole story when they say that. So if you're selling, especially if you're selling services, this can become really intriguing. It happens to us a lot, people will come in and they'll say, "I need a website" That's one of the really common things "I need a website" or "I need my website to be rebuilt"


Michael:
         Because we're in the marketing industry [crosstalk 00:02:25] marketing.


Kathryn:
         Because we are in the marketing industry. So, it is definitely one of the services we offer. I can build you a website. It's not a problem, absolutely happy [crosstalk 00:02:49]


Michael:
         We do it really well -


Kathryn:
         And we do it well -


Michael:
         By the way, [crosstalk 00:02:52] If any of you need a website out there [crosstalk 00:02:53]


Kathryn:
         Should you be in search of, but here's the thing, we've had people who've come in and said, "I need a website" And they range from I am an older company and I don't know how to tell my story. I don't actually, that's awesome that you think you need a new website and I agree because your website is ugly and it is unprofessional. And that's just not a good gift. But when you start trying to understand what they want on the website, they don't even know who they are. So we have had many opportunities to help diagnose and back them up a little bit so that we can solve some more foundational problems before we try and put a pretty face on something that's broken that's one example.


Michael:
         That's a great example. So today we're just as we touch this subject you're not alone If that happens, every entrepreneur I talked to they just kind of have this because people come in and it's not that they're messed up in the sense of they're intentionally trying to be devious or they're trying do anything else they just don't understand sometimes. And the first thing you need to know, okay, here's the scenario.

                        While this case happens all the time while people come in and say, "I need X" And what they really need is Y. And they're super confident. There are times and I'm going to warn you this ahead of time before we move forward, that somebody comes in and says, "I need X"

                        And everything in you thinks, "Oh, here they go again, Here's another one of those people" And actually, that person is super smart. They understand way more than you think and realize, and they've diagnosed it. And actually they do need X.


Kathryn:
         That's true.


Michael:
         And I recently put my foot in my mouth at least halfway through a little of hope and mouth disease because we had somebody come in and they were more, I hadn't qualified him enough they didn't understand enough about their business experience and what it sounded like they look like a duck. They sounded like a duck.

                        They were cracking like a duck. I thought they were a duck. Turns out, they weren't a duck. They weren't inexperienced, they were actually way more experienced than I even imagined. And what they were trying to accomplish actually made sense. A part of what I was trying to do is I wasn't 100% sure if this person was totally unrealistic, or they had some perspective and unfortunately, too many people come in and talking just like a duck, and that means that they're their crackers.


Kathryn:
         And in that case, the result was we lost the potential probably to close that client because we haven't heard from them since. Right? [crosstalk 00:05:36]


Michael:
         I wouldn't have said that to the podcasting group out there but [crosstalk 00:05:38]


Kathryn:
         Well because that's [crosstalk 00:05:39]


Michael:
         That's the reality [crosstalk 00:05:41]


Kathryn:
         That's why they what's the point of the warning [crosstalk 00:05:42]


Michael:
         Gosh, I feel so vulnerable right now -


Kathryn:
         Okay, But you warned them and if there're no consequences to miss diagnosing the duck what's the point of the warning? [crosstalk 00:05:52] and you know what? And here's the thing.


Michael:
         The other thing is we weren't sure we wanted them and we didn't follow up -


Kathryn:
         Yeah, I'm not really sad about it personally, but it's okay that you are so, the other thing too real quick is, the consequences of .... shut up.


Michael:
         That's a bus going down the street, it just ran over me and backed up and did it again.


Kathryn:
         And if you keep talking there's going to be another ...  alright so the second thing is that, if we're just being vulnerable, we also have made the mistake of not asking the right questions and taking somebody on as a client who said they needed something and then discovering that there's no way to deliver that and then they're frustrated and you're frustrated, and they want their money back and they don't understand why you can't just do this thing. But you didn't actually understand the situation they were in. So, tell that story because that's a fun one.


Michael:
         Which story?


Kathryn:
         The person to whom we're trying to deliver services a client that we're trying to keep delivering services and they wanted digital marketing they wanted to be trained in all things digital marketing, but when it came down to it, what they neglected to mention was they had no business, no website, no URL, [crosstalk 00:07:07] no nothing.


Michael:
         That one.  Okay, so you're getting the live free version of this conversation today, because it's taken a couple of turns. But this is good. So we had somebody contact us, they found us on our website they came through that was one of the places there on the east coast. We have people from literally all over the country, call us on a pretty regular basis. And sometimes out of the country.

                        We've got a great presence on the internet on Google. And so you get a lot of these calls, people looking for marketing consulting, because we rank high for that particular term. And so this person goes "Okay, I do a certain kind of services already" They do a lot of freelance stuff, but one of the things that happened is it sounded like they were they had way more of a formulated business, their concept was developed they were already doing business as an independent entity and all that kind of stuff. And sometimes the basic questions you just never asked. Because it's almost like it's condescending -


Kathryn:
         Nobody would be looking for you for digital marketing that didn't have a website -


Michael:
         Or didn't have a business or didn't have a name for a company, I mean, this guy, literally great guy, and it's been a great year of coaching and stuff with him. But what happened in the beginning was he started out, it sounded like he needed all this help. And I thought, well, your budgets probably not there. We talked about that. And so we put him because of his budget, we moved him into coaching and fairly quickly I realized, here's my plan, we're going to help you build your business. And here are some things you need to do for digital marketing. Let's get the foundations and what I realized was he didn't even have a business yet he didn't know several things and, and he didn't have a business license.

                        He was moving to another state. He was doing several things. So there was a lot of prematurity but we were already in a contract and folks we've been at this a long time  we do big, fairly large deals, I don't want to make it sound grand deals and like, we're all that bag of chips. But, but we're experienced at business and we're experienced lots of zeros and commas and doing things that and I jumped saying that because sometimes you just miss stuff. And it just happens to all of us.

                        Your goal is not to and the goal today is to how do you help work through this, I messed up qualifying this person completely because I didn't fully understand, I made some assumptions that are wrong. So we readjusted and went backwards, and I was able to help him and he had the money for the coaching and it worked out well. And I really lik him. But it was tricky, and he wasn't the best fit. And there I was going around the mountain again, learning a lesson that I learned before, but I'd forgotten it -


Kathryn:
         And it's taken three times as long to deliver the services because of the adjustments, which means that it's not profitable, which is fine, it's a learning curve. But that's the price we pay for not well, not qualifying somebody correctly sometimes.


Michael:
         Alright, so the lessons I learned were just really just making sure that I need to qualify well, and then really identify. So let's talk about what to do when this happens when somebody comes in. And that story is a little bit out of the vein of what we're talking about today. But it's what can happen when you miss something, they say "I want X " and then what they really needed was Y. So, one of the things it's real important to do, I think, is to ask the question. First of all, when somebody comes in and says, "I need help with X, Y or Z, I need help with marketing need help building a house, I need help moving my septic tank" I mean we have clients in all kinds of different industries and stuff for us or whatever you might have.

                        We have clients that are podiatrist and they are going to have patients that come in all the time and say I need X, I need inserts in my shoes because I have a problem. Well, is that really going to solve the problem? Is that really address the problem? Or do you really want inserts or do you really want to fix the problem? So one of the things you need to ask invariably when somebody comes in is and they say "I need such and such" you need to say and remember to say why? Well tell me a little bit more about that how did you come to that conclusion? Is a great question.


Kathryn:
         Great question.


Michael:
         What was it that drove you? Another version of those What was it that drove you to that conclusion? Question I ask all the time is what's your objective? So often and sometimes it can sound condescending asking such a basic question. So I preface that sometimes to package that so it's received well as,

                        I know this may sound like a generic, really mundane or a basic question, but help me understand a little bit more. Tell me a little bit about it. What was it that drove you to this conclusion? What was it? What is it you're trying to achieve? Because I always and I say this to people, I love to make sure that we're achieving your goals.

                        So I'm already going, Okay, what does that look like? What are your goals in this? And then what happens for Kathryn and I is we start to refine the goals we start to refine what they're saying, because often people come in saying, "I want to X" and they're not 100% clear on why they want X. And so in the marketing industry, people go, Well, I want more customers. Okay, great. What does that look like? What do you do? And we're teasing out that whole concept of let's come up with some really clear goals. You want more customers? How many more customers do you want?


Kathryn:
         Remember the conversation we had with one client and "I want more customers"  Well, how many more? "Well, I need two more a year"  Okay, well, that's a completely different approach than I need 150, right? This is a person who serves few customers very deeply. And so what they needed was just a couple more customers. And if we did something different, and turn the faucet on, they wouldn't be able to handle it. So those are really important clarification.


Michael:
         And I can think of one person that came to us to talk like that, it was really it wasn't worth coming and talking to an organization like ours and we had to say to him there's one person thinking about this is not what you want to do if you're doing X and Y, and it's working well you're doing this technique and this technique this marketing venture in this marketing venture and they're working fairly well then, don't waste your money and time on somebody like us because we're there to make sure that you have another 20, depending on the cost of the service, another 20 a year, another hundred a year, the thousand a year.

                        It all depends on what that is. The other question that we're always asking is, if that's your goal, is it sustainable? Can you do it? So in the marketing industry that looks like this, so "I want more customers" How many more customers do you want? "I want a 100 more a month" Okay, great. Now based on how where you are,

                        how many can you actually, where do you max out? And it's amazing how often these questions because people aren't trained to ask these questions they go well and after refining it, you go, Well, we can only handle 20 more clients a month. Do you want to add extra staff or extend your systems? "Oh, no" Okay, then all of a sudden We have a challenge. What's going to happen here? And what do we need? And if you want 100 customers, but you only can handle 20, and you don't want to try and grow to that, then all of a sudden, we have a different, we're solving for a different problem, right?


Kathryn:
         Different goal


Michael:
         And so you want to find out in your industry in your whatever you're servicing products or services, whatever you're delivering, what is it is the actual goal? And then one of the things that we often do in the sales process is we ask the question, imagine everything happens exactly the way you want it to. And in a year, what does life look like? What does your life look like in a year?

                        I don't always ask this question. But often I asked a variation of it or something like that, especially when I think that it's either challenging for them to zero in on their objectives and what clear objectives of what they want to accomplish and I'm helping them out with that. Or I think my impression as a consultant is they don't understand the implications of what they are saying  [crosstalk 00:16:13]


Kathryn:
         Of what they're saying they want.


Michael:
         So then it's like, Okay, what do you want there? And then I can say, Okay, great. Let's talk about that for a few minutes of what in a year, what does it look like? And it's amazing what happens, folks, several things that actually really good can happen out of that one, Obviously, we can verify that what they're thinking and the goals they have are realistic and everything else and then we can assess whether we can address those or not,

                        If we can meet those needs. Fantastic. The second thing that comes out of that is okay, great. Now I know what kind of prescription solution needs to be created for that and we can talk through that and then we could figure out, are we good fit? Can we do that for you? is the price mineable with you? If it works within your budget? Do we need to adjust your goals? or what you want? And sometimes and this is actually like a hidden diamond for me, sometimes what happens is the people

                        Say they've said it up to this point "I want X Y & Z, and I want this website I want this, and I want all this stuff blah blah blah" and then you get to the end and they say in a year what would it look like and they go "you know what? We'd have a little extra cash and I'd have an extra four hours a week that I could that was free for me, that's what it would mean and now I'm using that as just kind of example but what I'm saying is they sometimes come up with something that their solution while the objectives are good and the numbers they're looking at and the goals they have are totally doable.

                        What you realize is that you're saying if I can help you achieve this goal in a year, you'll be happy? Absolutely. Then all of a sudden, you realize, you know what, we can help you achieve that goal with a whole lot less effort, because we know other things that you can do other levers you can pull that won't take nearly as much energy time, money or whatever. And you can achieve that goal and you have a happy client.

                        And sometimes what you realize is you don't even have to charge less because that value of what that is because sometimes we ask the question, if we reach that goal, if we achieve that in a year, what's that worth to you? And they go, "I can't even tell you how much that's worth to me" And you say, well, try and put a dollar amount. But this is how you get into the situation where you can really start working What is it your goal is? We talk about fuzzy words. We've talked about that before, haven't we?


Kathryn:
         Sure we have.


Michael:
         I mean, describe fuzzy words for us, Kathryn.


Kathryn:
         Well, fuzzy words are any word that you could throw out there that could have multiple interpretations or meanings depending on who it is that's answering the question, right?


Michael:
         An example is love.


Kathryn:
         Can't love


Michael:
         That's one right?


Kathryn:
         Sure. That's an easy one. I love you and I and I do because you're my husband, and I love pizza but if I had to choose between the two of you, I would choose Pizza [crosstalk 00:19:21].


Michael:
         You'd choose pizza?


Kathryn:
         No, kidding, I'd choose you. But love is one of those words, it's very fuzzy. It's very open to interpretation, depending on whether you're talking to both depending on who you're talking to.


Michael:
         And what happens in business all the time any type of group you sit there and talk about stuff and people, the tricky part about fuzzy words is that every they are common enough that everybody thinks agrees that they're, they know what that means, Because here's what happens, one of the big fuzzy words that happens in our office is "Hey, so great, thank you, glad you came in today, how can we help you" and they say "We're here because we need to do a brand makeover "Brand or branding are major red flags of fuzzy words in our world because ...


Kathryn:
         What do you mean by that?


Michael:
         Everybody goes "Oh yeah branding, oh yeah I need brand maker or brand image or can we rebrand it?[crosstalk 00:20:13]


Kathryn:
         Can we rebrand it?


Michael:
         What does that mean? And quite frankly it can, it literally, to some of you, you're going "Well I know what it means it's not a very gray thing it's fairly black and white" And I will tell you that for those of you think that it is not, it can mean multiple things, it can to some people a brand is literally the logo.


Kathryn:
         I just needed a logo.


Michael:
         But they're saying I want a rebrand. To some people it is the entire look and feel of a company so it's still staying on the visual but its entire look and feel to some people it's actually changing the entire messaging of an organization and if you use the definition that we subscribe to its brand equals reputation and branding equals bonding. So if I'm going to rebrand my entire company, I am doing everything I can to change the reputation.


Kathryn:
         Yeah, either improve on a good reputation or adjust for one that has gotten away from you, or whatever else. So yeah, so that's one word that can just mean a ton of different things.


Michael:
         So you want to look out for those fuzzy terms. And then your goal is to clarify, clarify, clarify so that you can get into the situation where you can first of all, identify it. And then once you can identify what's going on, I have found that there's a place where you can either get in trouble, or you can do really well in this. Getting in trouble is when somebody comes in says, “I want X, and you go” No, that's not what you need, you need Y.


Kathryn:
         It sounds like you're just trying to upsell them -


Michael:
         Upsell them or just you don't know what you're doing, and you make them feel stupid, right? Because sometimes you're not up selling them, but you make them feel stupid. Both things can happen. What you want to do is when you sit there and go, Okay, let me make sure I understand you ask a few questions. And then you find a fuzzy term here and there and you go, you know, what I would love to do is you're talking about branding right now, what does that mean to you? How do you understand what brand means? Because to us, and I'll say this all the time to people, to us that word, whatever the word is, it's fuzzy. We found that unfortunately, it can mean different things to different people. So I just want to make sure I understand what you mean.


Kathryn:
         And there's very few people that would ever disagree with that most nod and go "oh yeah, I can see how that's true"


Michael:
         You ask ten people in a room, and most mature business people have experienced this ask ten people around the table what they mean by that? And you're going to get ten different answers. And they're, "Oh, yeah I've been there" Because they almost all have a horror story.


Kathryn:
         And most of the time it's about an assignment they gave their team and thought everyone understood.


Michael:
         So, in this situation you start asking these good questions. How can I help you today? What is it that you're looking for? Why? What is it about that, that makes you think that's going to be the right thing? If you're asking for X , what's the goals that you have for their? What are you trying to achieve? Help me understand that, so I can understand the end goals and if anybody ever asks why? it's pretty obvious, you can just say in my experience, sometimes that may be very rarely, sometimes when people come in, and they asked for X, what we realize is their goals, that's not the best tool. It is a tool.

                        It's not the best tool to use to help them achieve their goals. And we found sometimes, that we can achieve their goals faster and with less money if we implement a different strategy. So I'm trying to understand what your goals are. It's okay, you're not selling them up. Because you can say, "Oh, well, that's a big goal", And you know what, here's my experience. And if you need to, you can say my experience is that that tool can get you there. But it's not the best tool to get you there.

                        And you want to save probably time or money and you want it to be effective. And so we can either help you in one of those three ways we can help you get there faster, we can help you get there with a better price, we can help you get there and achieve that goal more effectively. You can actually reach that goal of numbers output whatever, The old saying you can't have price quality and speed at the same time. You can't get a good price fast and -


Kathryn:
         Quality.


Michael:
         Quality at same time so, you're like okay, which two are you going to pick?  So these situations, I think this is super important because you get in there, and you come back to somebody walking into your office and saying, "Doctor, I need sleeping pills because I can't sleep "And it's like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, what are we doing? And you find out that 11 o'clock every night they are drinking espresso. Well, maybe -


Kathryn:
         let's start there and back our way into the best thing. And remember the context of this. Why would we talk about this? Our context is building passionate provision companies, and in a passionate provision company you ideally are serving clients who know that they need your services and you know that you can help them and there's nothing worse than taking on a client that they're set up for failure and you are and that's not very fun.


Michael:
         Yeah, the ideal customer is somebody that has a problem needs help knows they need help and sees your company is the company that will deliver it and you actually can deliver it .


Kathryn:
         Yeah, all those things.


Michael:
         Those things, that little suite of things. If you can have all of those, then you have really happy customers.


Kathryn:
         And happy customers, you've got happy employees, because they're serving happy customers. So this whole context of really diagnosing, what does your customer actually need versus the pin points they present with, right? And we've had podcast we've talked about pinpoints, pinpoints matter because they're the reason people might come find you. But then once they found you, how do you really solve their problems so that you can be a really good asset to them, and you can really be useful because ultimately, that's what we're trying to do is we're trying to actually solve people's challenges along the way so that we can grow our businesses, and we can grow their businesses and solve their problems or whatever it is that we're doing so -


Michael:
         So, hopefully that's helpful today I think it's a little interesting with some stories there you got a little bit of vulnerability in Redman's side.


Kathryn:
         So think about what it is your customers ask for. And what it is they really need and what kind of a process you can walk them through to get to that.


Michael:
         And how you can refine your process. If you already have one, what does that look like? And so that you can make sure that you're hitting the target more times than you are right now. Alright, you know what? We do this all the time, and we work with clients all the time. So if you're in a situation where you ever need coaching or consulting with your organization -


Kathryn:
         Or our website


Michael:
         Or our website and you need help.


Kathryn:
         Sorry,


Michael:
         Totally blown out. Basically what we're offering is if you ever need help, leading a passionate provision company and growing a passionate provision company, whether it's marketing management, leadership, or creating your vision, we're here to help. And that's what we do on a regular basis. So I'm Michael Redman


Kathryn:
         and I'm Kathryn Redman.



Michael:
          And that's for this hackable, very hackable podcast today. Have a great week.


Kathryn:
         Bye.