Understand the Want and the Need comes easily

Understand the Want and the Need comes easily

Part of my job is to meet with potential new customers and help them solve a problem that they are having. It's always important to listen during these meetings. Yes, we all want to win the business, but it's just as important to find out what the client wants. The want is most times an outcome, and not a product/service.

Having this mindset before going to a meeting allows me to have a deeper understanding of what problems they are facing and helps you become a trusted resource instead of just another consultant. This is one way I build long, trusting relationships with my customers.

You should also consider looking beyond just the want if you want to truly understand your clients situation. If you can understand the bigger picture, you can often solve more that just the problem they are currently having. When meeting with a client, I use the following template when I am taking notes:

  • Attendees - Always important to know who was at the meeting
  • Has - What do they currently have in their network? What software/services are they using?
  • Wants - What problem are they having and what do they see as the outcome
  • Needs - After you have listened, you can propose a high-level solution with the products/services that would solve the problems they are having. Depending on what you are trying to solve, you might want to wait send a follow up after you have had time to think about it
  • Actions / Next Steps - Always have an agreed upon plan on what happens next.

Now, everyone says they are a good listener. But what I have found is that most people stop listening too early. Let your customer completely finish and understand what outcome your customer is looking for before suggesting your idea.

Here is an example:

  • Attendees - You, Me, and your boss
  • Has - Outdated website built in the 90's that has a Home and About page
  • Wants -
    • A modern website linked to their social accounts
    • a email list of customers
    • Show product inventory counts on the website
    • Look good on mobile
    • etc... We have all seen this.
  • Needs -
    • HTML5, CSS3, pick your JS framework
    • E-mail subscription service (e.g. Mail Chimp)
    • database with all products and easy way to change inventory
    • Responsive website design
    • social media marketing
    • etc...

As you can see, the want does not have anything technical in it. Remember, you are the expert and the client often times does not care about the tech used. The need is when you can put your propeller hat on and start geeking out over how you are going to solve the problem.

I have been using this system for work for a while now, but have recently brought it into my personal life. When making personal decisions, you sometimes lose sight of the want because of all of the obstacles in the way. In a way, this can help take your dreams and turn them into plans.

  • Want - I want to buy a house before the age of X
  • Need -
    • I need to save this much money as a down payment
    • Therefore I need to save x per paycheck to meet my goal.

This is a materialistic want, but it doesn't have to be. Figuring out the obstacles in your way of getting what you want is important, but never lose sight of what you want.


Whether using it for work or personal, I hope this is helpful. I find it easier when you are working through something with a template. You can most often get to the outcome faster if you can organize your thoughts. Please feel free to leave your comments below. Do you have another system that you use? Do you see room for improvement on mine?