what customers wantAre you having trouble figuring out what additional services your customers want? What offers will get the best response? What you need to be able to do or say to get welcomed in to talk instead of being blocked, screened, and ignored? Then you need to spend more time UNDERSTANDING YOUR CUSTOMER. If you want to succeed in any business, you would be better served investing twice as much time in studying and intimately knowing your customer than in building the “thing” you are selling. So how do you do that, and what are you looking for specifically?

The absolute best way to get this done is to spend direct time with customers, sitting beside them, watching them work, observing them, asking questions. If you have ONE customer, you can get this done. Ask permission to sit next to various people within the organization for a day to see how they work. Your purpose is to observe them in their natural environment to understand how they operate, what the process is for delivering their products and/or services, how they get paid, and, ultimately, what applications they use, where the bottlenecks are. The ONLY way you can truly know that is to spend a few days in their office, sitting beside them, watching, and asking questions.

The Power of Observation

Surveys are NOT enough, and market data and reports are NOT going to give you the practical information you’ll get from sitting with customers in their environment, watching, studying them, and asking a lot of questions. So what are you looking for? A few things …

1. What language do they use? How do they describe their business? Do they call it a “practice” or a “small business” or a “firm”? Do they talk about patients? Clients? Customers? What technical language do they use? Lingo and acronyms? You’re looking to become fluid in conversation, so your marketing speaks to them and shows no signs that you’re an “outsider” who doesn’t understand THEM.

2. What systems, software, and tools are they using? How does information flow through the organization, and how well do those systems work together? What software do they use to track clients, payments, and leads? What are the limitations of those systems? What are they doing manually or as a workaround to getting something done? THIS is a big area of opportunity that your fresh eyes can see.

If you rely on them being able to articulate what they want and need, you miss a LOT. First, most people don’t even know what to ask for because they don’t know what’s possible. Second, when someone has done something a certain way for a long time, they develop a blindness to what’s dysfunctional, the same way a cat owner goes nose blind to the stench of the litter box. This is why sitting next to Mary as she answers the phone, looks someone up (or doesn’t), books an appointment, transfers a call, or takes a payment is key. You are looking for ways you can facilitate sales, profits, payment, and security of data.

You are looking for EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN pain points, frustrations, angst, and worry. Simply interviewing customers is not enough. While an interview is better than nothing, you cannot beat observing them work, having LONGER conversations as the day rolls out, and seeing how they react to certain things happening.

Ready Set Managed

Photo: Khakimullin Aleksandr/Shutterstock.com

Robin Robins

Posted by Robin Robins

Robin Robins is the CEO and Founder of TechnologyMarketingToolkit.com, the largest sales and marketing consulting firm in the IT channel, specializing in sales-generating marketing campaigns for MSPs, VARs, and solution providers. To date, over 7,000 IT services firms have enrolled in one or more of her programs. Visit her website for more information and to request a free one-on-one marketing consultation and marketing roadmap for your IT services firm.


  1. Brent Fairbanks

    Great advice Robin. This is my “best kept secret” to success, actually watching what happens during a work week, yes a week. From opening the doors, to shutdown observe everything that happens. Also, do this with a stopwatch (some timing device), and time the activity so that you can place a dollar value on an operation.


  2. Great Advice – too many MSP’s focus on their “product” or their “technical aptitude” – the customer doesn’t care. The customer only cares that you CARE about THEIR business. That starts with understanding the customer. Again…. Great advice!!


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