• Vaughan Rivett

How to add value by helping to uncover customer needs


One of the most powerful ways to selling is to identify a customer need or problem that they are trying to solve. There are two parts to that, the customers need and a problem that they are trying to solve, and both can be quite different.


A customer may have a need, but they may not be aware of the need, it is not something that they may be aware of. I recall sitting in a café with my wife. She was reading a sign from across the road. I took a glance and asked her how she could possibly see what was written on that sign. I went for an eye examination and, now I wear glasses. I did not have an awareness of a need to wear glasses.

On the other hand, a customer may be working on solving a problem, this is often because they have identified a need and are doing something about it. Often, in the world of sales qualification we would call this a project. Again, because of a project, the customer is likely to have needs, often they may not be aware of the need.


As a speaker or communicator, not only is my customer the person who pays the bill, but it is the audience I am speaking to. I work through a process to identify what the needs of the audience are likely to be. If I can find a way to become aware of those needs and then provide them with ways to fill those needs, I add value to the audience members. The key thing is to be adding value.


If I am unaware of the needs of a customer or an audience, then it does not matter what I speak about, I am unlikely to be adding value. Just as with a scatter-gun approach where none of the bullets are likely to hit the target, so my words are unlikely to increase someone’s awareness of a need.

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