Stu Schlackman

The Relationship Selling Expert - Building High-Performance Teams

Solving Customer Problems






It was another frustrating day on the golf course. How can I be just twenty yards off the green in two strokes and finish with a disgusting double bogey six? It happens more often than I like to admit!

But on one particular day, I began not knowing that the ending would be different than in the past.

On the 16th hole, my friend Bob noticed a problem in my chipping around the green.

Stu, “Why are you playing the ball in the back of your stance? You need to be playing the ball off your left foot towards the front of your stance.”

I gave it a try and was shocked. The ball popped right up, hit the green and rolled about ten feet from the pin. Eureka! Problem solved on my short game. Well not completely as I’m still learning how to gauge my distance to the hole. But improvement is happening.

If you’re working on solving customer problems –and aren’t we all – with your business products and services, I highly recommend Keith M. Eades book, “The New Solution Selling.”

Eades explores how to help customers achieve the results they need when considering your solutions. He writes of the three components of solution selling that you need to cover. They are:

  • Diagnose reasons.
  • Explore impact.
  • Visualize capabilities

And guess what? It’s the same three components I just shared with you about my golf game.

I had a problem with my short game- it’s my swing and yes it gives me great pain. The reason? Playing the ball too far back in my stance. The impact? I’m losing about ten strokes every time I play a round of golf. When Bob provided a solution and corrected my swing, the problem was solved and now I can visualize my ability to shoot a lower score.

It’s the same process when a customer has a problem with operation expenses. The first thing is to diagnose reasons. How do higher operation expenses impact or affect the organization? Specifically, what are the reasons for the pain in the organization?

Our job is to help diagnose the problem. Second is to explore the impact to find out just how damaging the problem is to the entire organization. Is time wasted? Money lost? Investment strategies for future product and services restricted?

Eades uses what he calls “open question, explore impact” to understand just how extensive the problem is. For example, “Besides yourself, who else in your organization is impacted because the new account revenue targets are being missed? And how are they impacted?”

Use this opportunity to lead the discussion into areas that your competition might never get to. Knowledge is power and if you better understand just how extensive a customer problem might be, you can maximize the value of your solution, and hopefully solve multiple problems for them.

The more insight you have into the issues in their organization, the better you can match the benefits of your solution to their needs. That is a true “win-win.”

In the end, you want to help them see a vision for how your solution is best for their needs. When you and your customer have a shared vision of the solution, you will likely make the sale.

Diagnose the reasons for the problem, explore the impact of the problem and help the customer visualize the solution. Sounds like a good approach to winning new business and exceeding your goals for the year.

Good selling!
Stu

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