posted by Max Watkins on June 15, 2022

Taking the time to understand your customer as well as their needs is vital for any business. Over time you will find specific ways of getting to know your customers, but could you make this process more efficient? Here at Collier Pickard, understanding our customers is key to our success. To do this we focus on the 5 W’s and the magic H. Not sure what these are? Let us explain. 

Each description we go through in this article is an example of how to use – Who, What, When Why and How. They can be used in a variety of ways to understand more about your customer.  


Defining who the product is for is something that should be asked during every initial conversation. Without knowing this you will struggle to analyse the needs of the business and offer the relevant product efficiently. 

We emphasise always asking who the product is for as it isn’t always someone directly employed by that specific business contacting you, I.e., a consultant. Depending on who from the prospect you are talking to how you approach the conversation will change. 

As an example, how you approach a conversation with a director will vary compared to a sales agent. Occasionally you will find that a business may hire a consultant to speak on their behalf. 

If you want to understand your customer, knowing who you are talking to and who the product/service is for is key. 


Once you have understood who it is that you are talking to, you will want to know what brought them to you. Finding out the ‘what’ allows you to tailor your approach to them and once again, ask the right questions. 

Asking what brings a customer to your business may seem like common sense to you but you will be surprised how many don’t check. Finding this out sooner rather than later also helps in your qualifying process. 

No-one want to be wasting time with a customer that will not generate any business. So, asking what brought them to you will help see if they have come to you for your expertise or if they are just doing research and not in a position to buy. 

To make sure we at Collier Pickard understand that we are the right fit for a business we offer a free consultation to the prospect. This allows us to define their needs and understand how exactly we can help. If we can’t help, we don’t want to waste anyone’s time. 


At Collier Pickard, we endeavour to understand the pain points of our customers. If a customer has come to us wanting to solve an issue, we will  find out when this issue occurred and among other things, this allows us to gauge the scale of the incident. 

Using ‘when’ also helps to time stamp specific parts within a business or, to help follow up on a client. During the sales process it is common to chase up on an opportunity but can be difficult to pinpoint a follow up time. 

Using conversation points like “when do you need the product up and running?” allows you to guide the conversation to the next stage. During your fact find, you may find yourself asking when it is best to continue the initial conversation. This will help to reduce time spent on chasing a customer. 


Asking where is ideal for finding out a customer’s pain points. Speaking with a customer and asking “where is the pain” allows them to give you the answers that are needed to help better structure your conversations or demonstrations instead of thinking ahead of yourself.

What works for us is to ask where the pain is and then, keep quiet. A quote we live by at Collier Pickard is “a salesperson has two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio.” This allows your customer time to really think about what is causing them the most issue in their business and, gives you the exact answers you are looking for without barraging them with questions.

You can also use where to understand where in a business those issues are popping up the most. For instance, if your customer says that their marketing team is highlighting an issue which is taking a considerable amount of time to complete. You may decide to focus on this area to improve productivity which could help generate more revenue for the client.


Using ‘why’ in any interaction can be a tricky question. Asking questions like ‘why have you come to us?’ ‘Why have you chosen now to solve the problem?’ ‘Why is there a problem in the first place?’ is key to understanding your customer. 

A customer may ask you if a specific integration can be made into the system, your automatic response maybe either Yes or No. When a question like these pops up, ask why it’s needed. This allows you to better understand the customers’ needs and overall, their business. 

People come to us for our experience, with the experience comes a knowledge of not just how to do something, but whether it is necessary to do in the first place. It might be that you can get better results from doing something differently.

Knowing ‘why’ someone wants a specific piece of functionality, or is dealing with a specific problem, is key to fully understand your customer.


We have shown the five W’s and now it is time for the magic H. Asking the customer ‘how.’ How is another interesting question to be asking your customers, if you were to ask, “how could I make your life easier?” I am sure they will all have something to say! 

When using ‘how’ you are always fact finding. In fact, you could ask ‘how are you finding your current supplier?’ Knowing how they feel about their current supplier allows you to see what is working for them and what is not. 

Using that information also allows you to tailor your approach, once again focusing on their pain points and making you stand out above the rest. It is easy not to take in what someone is saying but the ones who do are the ones who close opportunities. 

As you may have noticed we like to ask questions, we believe it is the best way to know how you can help. If you have found yourself with someone not listening to your needs about CRM, feel free to get in touch as I am sure we can help. 

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