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It’s Too Late If You Only Help Your Customer Solve Problems!

by David Brock on February 10th, 2015

A lot of what we have always done as great sales people is to help our customers solve problems.  But that can’t be what drives us in our jobs any longer.

If we focus on helping our customers solve problems, we’ve missed a huge part of our value creation.

If we focus on helping our customers solve problems, we become part of the 57% fodder, which is just this decade’s version of RFP fodder.

What we really need to be doing is Creating Problems For Our Customers!

Oh, this could go so wrong if you stop reading here.

Let me rephrase, we need to create the Awareness of Opportunities or Problems for our customers and help create a Compelling Sense of Urgency to Change.

As “problem solvers” we typically wait around, twiddling our thumbs until the customer calls saying, “We’ve been working on this problem for some time, we think we’ve identified some needs, requirements and goals.  Can you come help me figure out how to solve the problem?”

In doing this, the customer has done all the heavy lifting without our help.  We’ve lost huge opportunities to create value for them, to ease their jobs, and to create results.

In doing this, we are counting on our customers to be very good problem solvers.  We are counting on their familiarity in recognizing problems of this type, in their expertise in analyzing, assessing the needs/requirements, and in narrowing on solutions.  In thinking further about this, if they were so good at it, why would they have the problem in the first place, why wouldn’t they have avoided it and “nipped it in the bud.”

In doing this, we are exposing our customers to crisis.  Typically, problems may not be recognized until things start going horribly wrong.  Then, sometimes, you don’t have the luxury of doing a thoughtful analysis, you may not have the luxury of choosing the right solution or the best solution.

If we want to maximize the value we create for our customers we need to get them engaged much earlier in thinking about their business, thinking about opportunities, thinking about ways to improve.

As much as they try, customers become prisoners of their own experience.  What they do, what their competitors do, what the markets do every day blinds them to opportunity to do something different, to do something better or to improve.

That’s where we have the opportunity to create the greatest value for our customers.  We can be the people that help them see these opportunities —-  that’s far better than some new start up blindsiding them and changing the whole dynamic of the market.

We can help them disrupt their own thinking, their own processes, their own approach to business.

I’m not talking about the big disruptions and galactic shifts in business and market places, but perhaps a shift from “just good enough” to “better than anyone else.”

When you strip all the words and pages away from Challenger, Insight, Provocative and whatever we are calling it these days.  The way we create greatest value for customers is not longer just helping them solve their problems.

It’s helping create the Awareness of Opportunities or Problems for our customers and help create a Compelling Sense of Urgency to Change.  Once we have done that, then we become the preferred problem solvers for our customers.

Postscript:  A reader had a great quote from a customer that I had to add:  “Mike, there are a million sales people that can sell me a ladder to climb out of a hole.  I just wish there were one that would keep me from falling into the hole in the first place.”  Brilliant!

From → Innovation

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