Your Solution Is Not My Problem

November 10, 2009

solutionsDo you have a great solution?

Do you do something different, or better yet, unique?

Great.  Now, if you want more sales, faster sales, and more profit per sale – forget about your solution.

I always know when a company or a salesperson is in for trouble.  When asked about their company, they spend all of their time talking about their solution.  They may have a great story, but what they all struggle to understand is that your solution is not my problem.

I wrote about this more than three years ago and things seem to be getting worse.  Back then, I said:

Let me explain something that is very basic – if there is not a problem, there can be no solution. Period. No questions or discussion. I’d like to request that all salespeople and marketers stop talking to me about how wonderful their solution is. When they talk to me this way, all they do is demonstrate that they clearly have absolutely no understanding of the problems that matter most to me.

Here’s your challenge.  If your customers and potential customer don’t understand their problems – and they don’t, then they cannot understand your solution.  Nor can they understand how your solution is any different than any other solution.  And they certainly can’t figure out why your solution is an absolute, must-have, can’t be without.  In this drought, anything less is not enough to get access to budgets.

What should you do – start talking to me about my problems.  Demonstrate that you understand me, my business, and my desired results as least as well as (preferably better than) I understand myself.  If you can’t understand me at least as well as I understand myself – how can you possibly create any value?  And if you don’t create any value, why should a prospect or customer spend any time talking with your company.

Now, you don’t need to understand every problem I have, just the important ones that align with what you do.  At Imagine, we teach selling organizations to focus on what we call “high probability indicators/symptoms.”  The likelihood is that 80% of the businesses that fit your Best Few Profile suffer problems that are 80% similar, so you don’t need to invent a new wheel every time you sell.  The buying organization’s challenge is that they don’t understand their problems (think about it, if they did, they’d be getting the results they want).  What’s new and unique to the buyer is standard operating procedure to you (which is why they need you).

Your job is to give the language so that the buying organization can trace the symptoms (that they are aware of) to the real problem.  Just today, I had two conversations with someone who thought they had one problem and I helped them understand that the real problem was something entirely different (while this was a surprise to them, it was SOP to me).  I spent no time whatsoever talking about my solution, and the buyers went from “looking at alternatives” to proceeding only with me.

Remember, my problem is my problem – and until I fully understand it, and understand that you understand it, you’re solution is a commodity at best and more likely an interruption.  Stand out and make your customers feel understood.

Filed Under Business Growth Strategy, Messaging, Sales Strategy | | Blog Home


8 Responses to “Your Solution Is Not My Problem”

  1. Bravo, Doug!

    We struggle with this all the time in the real estate marketing business: understanding both what the problem is AND whether we’re trying to cram a solution down the prospect’s throats.

    This is tremendously helpful: perspective that our solution (social media marketing for Realtors) is less important than the problem (Realtors who have no business because they aren’t found).



  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by dougdavidoff: Your Solution Is Not My Problem (today’s post)

  2. [...] with “solution selling” skills, packed with features and benefits salespeople launch into their solution before their [...]

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  4. [...] would work, when what they’ve tried in the past wouldn’t.  By this point, we had fully diagnosed his current situation and I had shared our philosophy for [...]

  5. [...] It amazes me how much time people spend developing, understanding and explaining their solutions, while spending little to no time actually understanding the problems their customers have.  If there’s a single message that traditional salespeople need to grasp to break free form commoditization it’s “your solution is not your customer/prospect’s problem.” [...]

  6. [...] more your focus is on your products, services, or (dare I say) your solutions , the less likely you’ll be valued or make a [...]

  7. [...] The problem that sellers face is that the traditional sales approach is not geared to connecting to the problem-centers of the customer/prospect organization.  I see it time after time.  Selling organizations are so solutions focused that they forget that they’re really in the business of solving problems. [...]

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