Accelerate sales by defining the problem you’re solving
James Shomar, Chief Growth Officer

james-meetingIn a recent blog post titled “Do you have a sales strategy for growth?” I mentioned I would publish a series of posts outlining how to answer each of the following questions:

  1. What problem are you solving?
  2. Who are you solving it for?
  3. What business value does your solution offer them?

If you can answer these questions and, more importantly, prove your answers are correct, you have a strong foundation for accelerating sales growth.

Typically, most businesses look at the problem they’re solving from the wrong perspective—their own. “We help customers with all of their printing needs.” “We offer contract manufacturing services to food companies.” “We offer ABC technology solutions to government, private sector, and research sector customers.” That is NOT the problem you’re solving. That’s a description of the product you’re selling from the perspective of the person selling it. What we want to understand instead is the pain point as it would be described by the person experiencing it. What we want is customer empathy.

Here’s a great example of how that focus totally changed a company’s trajectory. A company I invested in a few years ago installs cameras on the outside of automotive dealer service bays so that they can track any vehicle damage that may have occurred while it was being serviced. Their original message to dealers was “we can save you money by ensuring you don’t needlessly repair a customer’s vehicle that you didn’t damage just to preserve the relationship.” This was a logical argument, but it wasn’t addressing the real problem dealers had. In fact, most repair bills were coming out of a slush fund which made it difficult to justify the ROI of the product.

They then spent a lot more time speaking to General Managers and realized that the real problem was that when a customer believes their car was damaged, the dealership loses that customer for life. Furthermore, that customer will go on social media and complain about the dealership to all of their friends. Car dealerships are hyper-local businesses where reputation really matters. The price tag of losing a customer and all of their friends is much, much higher than the vehicle repair cost. Switching to this pain point-specific messaging allowed the company to double their pricing and close sales faster.

The only way to truly understand the problem you’re solving is to spend time talking to dozens of your customers and asking very methodical questions about their problems. You’re not looking for praise about your company’s products or services. You’re not looking to affirm your own beliefs or that you’re the best supplier. You are trying to get an objective understanding of your customer’s perspective, their problems, causes, alternative solutions, and decision-making process. You are trying to establish customer empathy.