Why CEOs Should Consider Their Needs Before the Customer’s Needs

8 min read
Jul 14, 2022

Putting a customer’s needs before your own needs is like trying to fill a cup when yours is not full.

While it sounds nice on paper, putting customers before yourself does NOT help anybody, not even the customers!

However, most business owners continue to put customer needs above themselves.

Unfortunately, doing so comes with a high price tag.

To prove it, I am sharing why CEOs should consider their needs before considering their customer’s needs.

In short, putting your needs first creates:

Contrary to popular belief, putting yourself first is better for everyone, including the customers!


What Most People Tell You About Customer Needs


99% of what people tell you about customer needs is trash.

Most sales teams would have higher customer conversion rates and lower customer churn rates if the advice people gave was good.

Moreover, here's what most people tell you about identifying, meeting, and fulfilling customer needs.

To put it simply: do NOT follow this advice!


Why is it important to know customer needs?


There Are Different Types of Customer Needs

First, most people will tell you there are different types of customer needs.

Additionally, people tell you to study the different needs before pursuing new customers.

While there are different types of needs, spending significant time studying different categories is a waste of time.

Also, there are not as many types of needs as most people tell you.

Yes, you should identify a target audience and study target customers.

However, you have much better things to do with your time than studying different need types!


Understanding Customer Needs Is Crucial

Second, most people tell you that understanding customer needs is crucial.

How can you sell something to fulfil a need if you do not know what it is?

Moreover, how can you achieve customer satisfaction and have an excellent customer experience if you do not understand needs?

While this sounds valid on paper, understanding needs is not as important as you think.

I am not saying understanding needs is unimportant!

Instead, I am saying it is not nearly THE most crucial factor.


Run a Customer Analysis to Determine Needs

Third, most people tell you to run customer needs analyses on potential customers.

Needs analyses are in-depth interviews with potential customers.

At some point in the customer journey, sales teams typically conduct customer interviews to uncover needs.

I am a HUGE advocate of spending time interviewing potential customers during the sales process.

I believe sales reps should spend most of the process letting prospects talk instead of them!

However, running a customer needs analysis is a dead-end idea.

Unfortunately, 90% of customers will not accurately tell you what they need from a needs analysis.


Gather Current Customer Feedback

Next, most people tell you to gather current customer feedback.

For example, send customer surveys to loyal followers to collect data on needs.

Asking your customer base what their current needs are supposedly sheds light on what potential customers need.

Gathering needs-related customer data sounds excellent on paper, but it does not help when it comes to new customer needs.

I am a huge advocate of getting feedback from your current customer base!

Current customer insights can shed light on customer pain points and improve the customer experience.

However, gathering feedback on current customer needs will not help you manage new customer needs.


The Customer Is Always Right

Next, somebody probably taught you that the customer is always right.

People tell you to ask customers what their needs are and believe them! 

It is as simple as cake, right?

Even worse, somebody probably taught you that having a customer-centric company culture is about letting customers lead the way!

However, anybody who has worked a job knows customers are not always right.

Therefore, why are we still pretending that customers are always right about their needs?


Meeting Customer Needs = You Win

Finally, most people tell you that meeting the needs of your customers = success.

You create customer success when you fulfil needs.

Ultimately, customer success = your success.

Unfortunately, believing that fulfilling customer needs is the root of your success is bogus.

Yes, you need to help people and provide customer support to convert prospects and have high customer retention rates.

However, basing your success on customer needs is nonsensical.


Why should we identify customer needs?


Why Focusing on Meeting Customer Needs First Is a Terrible Idea


There are three primary reasons why CEOs should focus on their own needs above identifying and meeting customer needs.

The three reasons include:

  1. Customers do not know what they need
  2. Trying to identify customer needs can be patronizing
  3. You are being disingenuous to yourself

Having happy, satisfied customers is crucial.

However, happy, satisfied customers are a product of YOU focusing on YOUR needs first.

In reality, focusing on identifying and meeting customer needs above your own needs leads to destruction.

Here is why:


1. Customers DO NOT Know What They Need

First, customers DO NOT know what their needs are.

Customers DO NOT know what they need to solve their pain points.

Therefore, trying to identify customer needs through means of customer needs analysis or surveys is bogus.

If customers did know what they needed to solve problems, they would have solved them already.

Consider this: Nobody knew they needed an iPhone until Steve Jobs created it. 

Most people lived just fine without always having a vibrating computer in their pockets.

That said, Steve Jobs did not go out and ask people if they needed iPhones before creating them.

Instead, Jobs dreamed of empowering the world through technology, and the iPhone was simply a means to manifest the dream.

Then, he marketed the iPhone so perfectly that he created a need for it in the market.

Furthermore, focusing on meeting customer needs is bogus because customers do not know what they need in the first place.

Instead of looking for needs, you have to create them.

Consider the pain points people struggle with and create a need that will solve them.


2. Trying to Identify Customer Needs Can Be Patronizing

Second, trying to identify customer needs can be patronizing.

Plain and simple!

Here is why it is condescending and patronizing: When you go out searching for a need in the market, you are sending the message that you only care about making a quick buck.

Moreover, you have the attitude of What is hot in the market now? What do people need, and how can I make money from that need?

Instead of being genuinely interested in helping customers, all you want to do is make some money off of them.

Think of it like this- Used car salespeople are notorious for trying to identify needs that people obviously do not really need.

Instead of genuinely trying to help the customer find a solution, they do anything to get a paycheck.

Moreover, trying to identify a need in the market that is simply a means of making a buck or two is patronizing.

Do you think potential customers like it when they feel condescended and patronized? 

That said, you are better off like Steve Jobs, who created a need instead of searching for one!


3. You Are Being Disingenuous to Yourself

Finally, trying to fulfil others' needs before fulfilling your own is disingenuous to yourself.

Being an entrepreneur is about fulfilling a vision. 

It is about having a vision and creating a product or service that will bring it to life.

Unfortunately, it is personally disingenuous when you put others' supposed needs before the need to manifest your vision.

Moreover, you are missing the entire purpose of being an entrepreneur if you put others' needs before your own!

Do you think Steve Jobs said to himself, I’m going to decide what other people want and base my dreams on those wants?

Or did he think to himself, This is my vision and I am going to create a need for this in the market!?

Putting others' needs before yours means you are not being true to yourself.

Eventually, customers will see you are not being genuine. 

The moment that happens is the moment you lose.


identifying customer needs


How to Get Customers to Buy Into Your Needs


While it sounds nice to consider your customer's needs first, it does not help anybody.

Instead of putting the customer and their needs before yours, make your needs the most important factor!

Then, create a need in the market for your needs.

Remember, focusing on customer needs first is bogus. Customers do not know what their needs are.

Also, focusing on customer needs first can be patronizing and disingenuous.

Here is a simple five-step process to help you succeed more by focusing on your needs first.


Always Follow Your Vision

First, remind yourself why you started your business in the first place.

You had a desire to manifest a vision.  Starting a business to sell specific products or services was a means to manifest the vision.

NEVER let some supposed customer need uproot your need to follow your vision.

The moment you allow a customer’s need to trump your vision is the moment you miss the point of entrepreneurship.

That said, prioritize manifesting your business vision above all else.  You can pivot your vision, but do not neglect it because you think customers do not need it.


Identify Pain Points In the Market

Next, start looking for pain points in your target market.

Pain points ARE NOT the same thing as customer needs.

A pain point is the equivalent of having a bad back, while surgery is the equivalent of a need.

That said, survey your target market looking for pain points.

Then, consider how your product or service could possibly help soothe that pain point.

Most importantly, remember never to ask prospects what their needs are, because the truth is they do not know what their needs are.


Pitch Your Ideas Like an Absolute Boss (Important!)

Next is the most important step: Pitch your product or service like an absolute boss!

You need to show prospects that they need your deliverable in order to achieve their own business goals.

AKA, it is time to create a need for your product or service in the market.

Believe it or not, but you can turn any deliverable into a need if you know how to pitch as if you are in the 1%.

Like I said before, nobody knew they needed an iPhone until Steve Jobs pitched it to the world.

Similarly, nobody knew they needed a Tesla until Elon Musk pressed the importance of eclectic vehicles (and revolutionized the motor industry in the process).

You can turn your need to sell your vision into your customer’s need through all-star pitches.


Be Extremely Genuine In Helping Customers

The good thing about following your vision is that you are always genuine while following it.

Instead of selling some supposed need just because you can make money doing it, you will be very genuine in selling a product or service that you truly believe in.

For example, if your business vision is to completely revolutionize social media marketing, then selling your services will be a piece of cake because you will come across as genuinely wanting to help others.

The more you love your business vision, the more genuine you are in selling it.


Show Customers You Deeply Care About Their Success

Finally, do not let prospects in on the fact that you are thinking about your needs first.

While this might seem obvious, many business owners sell as if they are trying to show customers they only care about themselves.

Remember, it is not that you do not care about your customers.  In fact, you should care about customers more than almost anybody.

However, that does not mean you put their needs before your own.  Caring about people and putting your needs first is categorically different.

Most importantly, remember that focusing on your needs first is BEST for potential customers!

Even though it sounds dicey to put your needs first (thank you ultra-political correctness!), it is better for customers if you do so.


Final Thoughts: Why Customer Needs Are Not As Important as Yours


You cannot fill the customer’s cup when your cup is not full.

Moreover, you cannot fulfil the customer’s needs until you fulfil your own needs!

How much longer will you continue putting others before yourself until you realize success is a matter of focusing on yourself first?

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