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Strategic Needs Analysis (SNA): The Better Alternative to Solution Selling


Providing superior value and growing your business depends on one essential thing: your ability to strategically analyze the needs of your target customers.

The better you are able to pinpoint their needs, the better you’ll be at fulfilling them – which means that they’ll choose you over your competitors, and on top of that they’ll also spend more money with you.

And if you’re trying to start a business, your best bet is to identify unfulfilled needs and provide the solution. That virtually guarantees that you have a market and people will be buying from you.

The Trouble With Solution Selling

Very often you’re advised to ask your customers. Just talk with your ideal customers and find out what they need. This approach is frequently known as solution selling.

The trouble with it is that your customers don’t know what they want. As Henry Ford said… “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

Or as Steve Jobs put it, “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them”.

So while talking with your customers is useful after you already have a minimum viable product to get feedback and make sure you’re on the right path, it is totally useless in identifying their needs and coming up with the ground-breaking solution in the first place.

Fortunately, there is a better way. The proprietary framework that I developed called Strategic Needs Analysis (SNA) enables you to pinpoint not one need, but a Chain of Needs that are built on top of each other that you have to aim to satisfy one by one.

This enables you not only to discover needs that your competitors have missed, but also to develop needs along the chain, and satisfy your target market on a much deeper level. And this translates to developing ideas that lead to exponential growth.

Virtually every great entrepreneur who shaped history took a strategic approach to analysing the needs of their target customers. And seeing farther than their competitors.

Because that’s where the magic happens.


Strategic Needs Analysis – Really Getting Under the Skin of Your Customers

In order to get inside the minds of your customers, you need to use a reliable framework that describes the psychology of human beings. Sure, we all have our differences, but deep down we’re more similar than we realise.

I have found no better framework than Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Now, here’s how you use this to perform Strategic Needs Analysis and develop the Chain of Needs for your market.

Start at the bottom of the pyramid, and ask yourself: which of those needs does your target market have, that you can help them solve?

Allow me to share with you how I go through this process for myself. Since you are reading this, you are probably one of my target prospects. So you be the judge. You tell me if this analysis has read you like an open book or not.

I own a marketing agency and most of my customers are coaches, consultants or eCommerce businesses. The reason these people come to me is simple: they want more sales.

So “money” is the bottom of the barrel physiological need that attracts people to what I have to offer.

But nobody wants money for its own sake. Money is just a tool. So move up a level… what need do I serve there? In my case, money will help my clients build greater wealth and security for themselves and their families.

So “wealth and security”, that is a higher-level need I help my prospects solve.

Let’s move up a level again. With regards to belonging, there are no needs that I really help people solve there. So nothing on this level.

Let’s keep going up.

At the “Self-Esteem” level, I help customers be respected by their peers, dominate their markets, and achieve worldly success. So these are additional needs in my Chain of Needs.

And finally, at the top of the pyramid… people want all these other needs not for themselves, but because they will take them here.

This is where the magic happens. Because ultimately people come to me not for money, wealth, security, respect, and achievement, but rather to fulfill their wildest dreams, reach their goals, unleash their potential and live their life with purpose.

Looking At The Chain of Needs

So finally, here’s how my Chain of Needs looks like when we put it together:

Now, people are very often not consciously aware of the higher-level needs which actually drive them.

You yourself probably were not thinking that you’re after “meaning & purpose” when you began reading this article.

But you probably were very aware of those bottom-of-the-barrel needs like money.

This means that in your advertising, it is always more effective to draw people in at the bottom of the pyramid. You can get more to be interested there, since that is what they are consciously aware of desiring.

But that’s not how you deeply satisfy your customers. It is only when you develop their needs, and help them become aware that what they actually desire are the higher level needs, only then can you proceed to satisfy them on a deeper level than anyone else.

In fact, most businesses out there compete only with the lowest level needs that they solve. They never develop it into a Chain of Needs, and then proceed to satisfy each need systematically.

That’s why people try them, and then forget about them. The surface is appealing, but there is no depth to keep them interested.

Using the Chain of Needs to Provide Marginal Value

Once you become aware of the Chain of Needs for your customers, it becomes much easier to differentiate yourself by satisfying more of their needs on a deeper level.

This means you’ll be able to provide superior value and be perceived as preeminent by them. Marginal value is the term I will use here to describe the value that is provided to your target customers that they cannot find anywhere else.

When Apple first created the iPod, that was an example of marginal value – something that consumers couldn’t find anywhere else. It was a thousand songs in your pocket…

And when you do that, you instantly become different in their eyes – you stand out, they talk to their friends and collogues about you. It’s how word of mouth advertising gets started, which is the key to all exponential growth.

So the secret to providing marginal values lies in the strategic needs analysis and understanding the Chain of Needs of your customers. Then you can tailor solutions that provide value on their entire journey, not just for the lowest level needs that they’re most conscious about.

Because remember – your clients may be attracted by the low-level needs… that’s how you catch their attention because that’s what they’re conscious of wanting. But deep down, they really thirst for the higher-level needs.

And the way you truly stand out, is when you educate your market. Make them conscious of what they truly want, and then help them get it.

This is the one differentiator that is hard to copy, because it springs from a deep understanding of their underlying needs, and it’s the foundation of education-based marketing.

And finally… providing marginal value leads to developing a quantum leap solution for your target market.

Develop Your Quantum Leap Solution (QLS)

The Model T. The PC. The iPad. The Tesla. What do all these products have in common?

They are quantum leap solutions. They provide marginal value that is not just incrementally beyond other alternatives out there… but revolutionary. The difference in value between these products and the alternatives is a LEAP, not a small incremental step.

The creators of all these products are frequently called VISIONARIES. Why is that? It’s because they saw and understood the needs of their target market better than the target market itself understood them.

And that allowed them to create quantum leap solutions… not mere improvements, but rather revolutions of the value offered.

You can do the same. This isn’t restricted to a Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Bill Gates or Elon Musk. Everyone can develop quantum leap solutions when they get a solid, deep down understanding of Chain of Needs of their target market.

Which is exactly what Strategic Needs Analysis helps you do.

So once you have your Chain of Needs clear, identify HOW you can help your prospects become aware of higher level needs and then solve them. This typically means taking your business in a different, non-traditional direction.

If, for example, you’re a marketing consultant, you don’t just want to show people how to make more money. But you want to show them how they can use that to build a sustainable legacy. Something that solves deeper needs that others are ignoring.

Looking to Grow Your Agency to 7-Figures?

Hey, thanks for reading this article, I hope you got great value out of it. My name is Tudor Dumitrescu (click to follow me on LinkedIn) and I've made my mission in life to help 25,000 owners build the agencies of the future, connect with their dream clients through LinkedIn and scale to 7-figures.

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