How to know what your clients need (so they buy)

Feel like you are throwing spaghetti against the wall?

Maybe you have pitched your offer, and no one is buying.

You could try different approaches yet struggle to find the right one.

Or you may feel frozen because you don’t know what to put out there.

In either case, you don’t understand what your client wants.

So how do you know exactly what your client needs so they buy from you?

Two words: Market Research.

What is Market Research?

Market Research is the process of gathering information about your ideal client’s needs, preferences, and influences to develop new services, verify product viability, iterate and improve existing products, or understand brand perception so you can effectively communicate value.

And why do this?

Insight into your ideal customers’ problems, desires, and dreams enables you to eliminate the guesswork to find the best solutions and stand out in the market.

Directly speaking to clients can also sow the seeds of possible sales conversations while identifying the best language to use in your marketing message.

There are two foundational business questions to keep top of mind.

  1. Who is your ideal customer?
  2. What are their challenges related to what you offer?

If you need help identifying your ideal customer, read How to Know if Your Ideal Client is The One.

Read on to gain more insight into your client’s challenges so you can create an offer they love.

Step 1: Low-touch secondary research

There are two main types of research: primary (high-touch) and secondary (low-touch).

Start by researching through secondary sources to help you gain more insight and analyze competitors.

Secondary Suggestions:
1. Free statistics online

2. Industry-specific sources

3. Public forums such as Quora or Reddit

4. Google Trends

5. Pinterest Predicts

6. Search topics, keywords, and comments on social media sites such as Youtube, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn

7. Amazon or eBay product descriptions

8. Internal business sources

Pretend you are mining for gold to find your ideal client’s most significant challenges. Pay special attention to questions, wishes, hopes, dreams, and personal stories using strong emotions, especially fears, complaints, or desires. Notice what is important to your ideal client and what type of language they use.

Try a variety of phrases and keyword search terms while exhausting all resources. What would your ideal clients search for, and what language would they use?

Example: Search the top 3 pages on google for:

  • Cost of acupuncture
  • Benefits of acupuncture
  • Acupuncture packages
  • Etc.

Next, research your top 3-5 competitors, including offers, price points, and delivery methods.

Look on their websites, sales pages, and email lists. What type of messaging do they use? What business models do you like or dislike, and why?

Organize all information in one place to be easily referenced by creating bookmarks on sites and using documents or spreadsheets to condense information to identify patterns or trends quickly. Save your work to reference later.

Pro Tip: Spend ample time here; however, do not go down a rabbit hole. Create a time limit on how much research you do (Example: 3-5 hours max).

Step 2: High-touch primary research list

High-touch primary research helps to gain first-hand information to establish buyer personas and segment your market. Exploratory primary research is done first by interviewing small numbers of people to determine potential challenges, followed by more specific questions to find the best possible solutions.

Conduct short 15-30 minute one-on-one interviews with roughly 15 ideal clients (or industry leaders on market challenges).

Finish your research within two to four weeks to create momentum so you do not lose steam and motivation.

Pro Tip: Stick to one-on-one versus group conversations whenever possible to have more intimate discussions so that you can build stronger relationships and validate ideas while learning the language that resonates with them.

Where to get interviews

Build a list of 30-50 people from your current contacts and ask them to participate and suggest referrals. It can be helpful to approach your most active social media contacts or to add the request to your email signature. Posting a Market Research thread in an active Facebook group like Rising Female Entrepreneurs can also be a great way to get interviews. 

Pro Tip: Offering a small incentive such as laser coaching, a $5 coffee, or other small tokens of appreciation for the call can go a long way.

What if you don’t want to call?

It may feel uncomfortable to reach out to people, ask for an interview, and make the call itself; however, the best answers will come from a conversation where you can assess body language, tone, and common language.

If you feel too shy, create a form, ask engagement or targeted questions, or even create a poll in targeted Facebook groups instead.

Step 3: Interview preparation

Be prepared, especially if feeling nervous about having conversations.


Schedule interviews in advance by phone or video. Video is best to see body language; however, do what is right for you. Practice interviewing with a trusted friend to gain more confidence if needed.

Prepare questions you would like to ask in advance. Including a questionnaire or survey before the meeting can also help give you insight and save time.

Six helpful questions:

1. What is your #1 biggest challenge right now when it comes to x?

2. What is causing your problem?

3. What solutions have you tried? 

4. What results have you gotten?

5. What is the ideal solution?

6. How do you feel about what I’m offering to solve your pain point?

Prioritize the most critical questions on the call, as you may not have time to cover everything. Adjust different languages or additional questions pertinent to the conversation as needed.


It’s common to feel nervous. Tap into your why while remembering that fear and excitement are the same physical sensation. How can you reframe your fear?

Suzy Welch, a business journalist and author of 10-10-10, suggests asking yourself:

1. How will I feel about this in 10 minutes?
2. How will I feel about this in 10 months?
3. How will I feel about this in 10 years?

Pro Tip: Before the call, get in a calm state by placing your hand over your heart to deregulate your central nervous system, and practice breathing in for seven counts and out for eleven counts several times.

Step 4: Conducting calls

Approach the interview professionally, engaging in informal conversation to gain greater insight into what drives or holds your client back. Lead with empathy, openness to learning, and curiosity while being engaging, respectful, and friendly by staying low-key, adapting to various personalities, and always being yourself.

Set the table by being transparent about the purpose of the call, and respect the time allotted by managing your time. If needed, ask permission to extend your time together.

Establish trust and rapport quickly in the conversation by assuring it is a safe and confidential space, reflect on what you heard in the discussion, and validate by sharing when others have had the same challenges.

During the call, have a solid structure and be willing to go with the flow to explore relevant unplanned avenues while being flexible with time or interruptions. Ask clear, concise, probing, open-ended questions while actively listening by giving your participant a moment to reflect before answering.

Notice body language, silences, hesitations, tone, and speech and interpret to gain more insight. Are they excited about specific topics? What is their posture? How are they breathing?

There is no perfect interview as every conversation will be different, with some participants being more forthcoming than others. Try to be as consistent as possible while asking the participant to expand or adjust when needed.

When wrapping up, express gratitude by thanking the participant and, if possible, gift an insight or helpful tip. Close the loop by asking if you can follow up to let them know what you find from the rest of your research. 

Pro Tip: Take accurate notes before, during, and directly after the call, and record whenever possible. Organize your data in the best way for you to reference later.

Step 5: One problem solved

Reflect on your research to look for patterns of what problems most commonly appear. What is the number one pain point? Are there significant themes, or is a specific language used?

When faced with multiple pain points, choose the topic that you feel will resonate most.

Tap into what you are most passionate about and skilled in doing. Is there one topic that you do very well?

Read How to Get Your Spark Back to identify your passions and skillsets.

Before moving forward, perform a gut check to ensure you are heading in the right direction and creating an irresistible offer your ideal client can’t refuse.

Gut check :

1. Do you feel passionate about this?

2. Are you an expert on this topic or at least one step ahead of your ideal client? Do people come to you for this currently?

3. Is your ideal client aware of this problem, and is it urgent?

4. Is there a strong demand and an existing passionate user base? Are there services, publications, or products already addressing this problem? 

5. Can you easily reach people with the problem or desire?

6. Is your ideal client willing to pay for this?

7. How can you stand out and be unique?

What if there are no stand-out pain points?

If there are no clear patterns, ensure that you have spoken to at least 6-8 ideal clients and have led relevant conversations. Look at the longest answers received as people often go into greater detail if the topic is significant.

If there is not a clear pain point or they are not interested in what you have to offer, it’s time to pivot.

Running a business is a series of small experiments so move on quickly to a new idea.


Conducting Market Research is key to helping you understand precisely what your client wants, needs, and will pay for so that they buy from you. Regular research is key to your business’s success, especially when creating new products or services.

Step 1: Low-touch secondary research
Step 2: High-touch primary research list
Step 3: Interview preparation
Step 4: Conducting calls
Step 5: One problem solved

I look forward to hearing how connecting to your ideal clients helps you build the right products and services to skyrocket your success.
Michele x

PS. I am looking for 10 women who feel stuck and need help clarifying what steps to take next in their business in exchange for a $5 Starbucks gift card. Email me the words MARKET RESEARCH for details.

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