Understanding the Buyer’s Needs

Amanda Calhoun, Manager, Strategic Services

Move over, the buyer is in control.


Gone are the days where buyers only relied on companies to provide the key information they need for their buying decisions, such as product specs, pricing and ROI. This information is now literally at their fingertips, readily available through websites, relevant content, review sites, and word of mouth.


The role of marketing has changed with this power shift, and smart advertisers have taken note. As buyers have more control over their purchase journey, Sales and Marketing teams, especially in the B2B world, are being forced into more consultative roles. In order to succeed and know when to reach out to buyers at the most effective time, they must have a deep understanding of the buyer’s pains, and, more importantly, their needs. Nowadays, 57% of the buyer’s purchase process is completed before even speaking to a sales rep, which makes reaching them at the right moment even more challenging.


Why is it so difficult to close a deal?


B2B buyers aren’t purchasing technology solutions just for the fun of it. They have identified a problem or inefficiency and assessed its severity and understand that they need a technology product to improve a business function. Not only do they enter the buying journey with more direction, but they also have a considerable amount of options to choose from.


The difference between a lost opportunity and a closed win is understanding the buyer’s needs faster than the competition and taking action at the perfect moment. An organization can only grow and succeed if its Product, Marketing and Sales functions thoroughly understand what their customer needs and how they wish to be assisted through their purchasing journey.


How do I define the needs?


Most companies struggle to understand and act upon customer needs because they lack a common definition of what a need is. In fact, 64% of companies admit to not having a consistent approach for identifying their customer’s needs and determining which ones should be prioritized.


At the 2016 SiriusDecisions Summit, Jeff Lash and Rachel Young introduced the Needs Aperture Model, which is a process for identifying, evaluating and prioritizing buyer’s needs. The Aperture is structured around 5 key phrases, designed to identify the core needs of a buyer. Before running through the model, keep in mind that they define a need as a “desired outcome that has a business value for a persona.”


1.     Frame:  Agree on a standard definition of what the customer needs and identify the different dimensions of each need that must be uncovered.


2.     Focus:  Define the market segments, personas and contexts that are in scope for identifying these customer needs and select the need types the organization wishes to explore.


3.     Find:  Select the appropriate research methods, sources and activities that must be conducted to identify and capture the selected needs.


4.     Filter:  Synthesize the findings from research, analyze the results and prioritize the needs based on key factors to determine which needs have the most potential for commercial viability.


5.     Formulate:  Create and execute plans to further investigate and potentially address the prioritized and selected needs from an innovation and go-to-market perspective.


With so much data and information out there, it can be difficult to get through to buyers. At DWA, we focus on ensuring that customer needs are top of mind when designing marketing campaigns. This enables us to identify what actionable needs to focus on when:


  • Developing themes and improved marketing segments/personas by isolating the primary buyer need.

  • Improving messaging strategy and resonance by incorporating insights that focus on the customer needs (e.g., copy, call to actions, abstracts).

  • Creating/repurposing content that resonates with the customer and assists in building a business case.

  • Building go-to marketing strategies that engage and influence the customer’s buying decisions.

By using the 5 F’s in the Needs Aperture Model, we are able to help our clients create more personalized, comprehensive, and buyer-centric engagements, centered around the buyer’s needs. Truly understanding the buyer’s needs is how we deliver value to our clients, help them achieve their goals, and ultimately provide clarity out of chaos.