If you are a problem-centric, buyer-centric, customer-centric, solution-centric, pick a fucking buzzword seller then you need to have a clear grasp of the problems you solve. While you may address numerous technical issues, it’s vital to remember that a technical problem alone seldom justifies a substantial investment.
What’s the difference between a business problem and a technical problem?
Technical problems are the issues your customers and prospects encounter and seek to remedy. These are the issues that often lead to the birth of new product features. They’re the driving force behind client requests for new functionalities, and they often can drive your product development team up a wall. Examples of technical problems include integration difficulties, lack of Bluetooth connectivity, or a subpar user interface.
Business problems are different. These are the complex issues that a company would love to eradicate entirely. These are the problems that can’t be fixed with a single feature. Think low revenue, high churn rates, or losing ground to competitors.
Boost sales through business problems
Don’t get trapped by a technical problem. These are just the symptoms of the larger business problems. A customer might want to resolve their integration issues BECAUSE they’re losing customers to a rival product with superior integration. Bluetooth problems won’t prompt a significant change unless customer service scores are plummeting due to frequent call drops or something similar. A poor user interface isn’t ideal, but it becomes a real concern when declining revenue is linked to skyrocketing churn rates, all stemming from customer dissatisfaction with the UI.
Instead of “we help companies generate more leads”, try “we help companies struggling with lead generation.”
There are only 3-5 business problems you can solve. What are they? If any of them begin with “improve”, “better”, “expand”, “higher” or anything similar, you’re on the wrong track. Those are outcomes, not problems.
Flip the perspective from an outcome to a problem. For example, instead of “we help companies generate more leads”, try “we help companies struggling with lead generation.” See the difference? One is an outcome and the second is a legitimate business problem.
The #1 sales tool: The problem identification chart
Once you’ve identified the problems you solve, it’s time to create a Problem Identification Chart (PIC). Start by listing your business problems in the first column. Let’s take a sales training and consulting organization’s PIC as an example. Problem 1 on this chart: “Low Close Rates.” That goes in the first column. Then, you move on to the “Impacts” column.
The impact of customer’s problems
Why are the problems you listed problems? What’s happening to the organization as a results of these issues? A Company grappling with low close rates might experience a high cost of sales, sluggish growth, fewer customers, diminishing profits, and wasted leads. These factors can make them vulnerable to competitors. Instead of asking how low close rates affect their organization, try to find a link between these rates and rising costs, slowing growth, or declining profits.
The root causes
Finally, this is where you expertise comes into play. As someone who interacts with customers and sells this product, you have insights into the causes of these problems. For low close rates, the root causes or the “what do I know about this problem” might be a weak sales team, inadequate training, poor sales management, or perhaps targeting the wrong Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
In this weeks episode of Gap Sell Keenan, we are reminded of the importance of market expertise. Keenan points out that sometimes, market experts get sidetracked comparing the services to competitors instead of focusing on the problems they know they can solve, the impacts of those problems, and what might be causing them.
Before you jump on your next call, fill out a PIC and formulate a strategy for uncovering the problems your prospect could be facing.