The Problem Discovery Strategy is a Process of Loss and Redemption
The answer to all customer's problems comes at a higher level than the problem. Problems often appear to be what they are not. Einstein is said to have observed that a problem cannot be solved by the mind that created it. Trusted sales people, who are skilled, can help customers see their problems from a different angle, in a new light.
For everything the customer wants, there is something they do not want. All problems have conflicting solutions, competing priorities that need to be resolved before any solution is offered. Frequently customers are more concerned with getting rid of the discomfort of not meeting their goals, than the actual achievement of their goals. This reinforces the idea that decisions are complex, contradictory, irrational and emotional.
The answers and resolutions of problems will happen much quicker and effectively through the process of questions than through answers. The means are consistent with the ends. The beauty of the problem discovery strategy is it is often the question and the answer happening at the same time. Any problem when fully discovered, defined and explored thru questions by the sales person contains it's own answers, solutions and courses of action for your customer. It is the ultimate in selling. Selling without selling.
Any search for something better is a direct result of the belief that the way it is now is not sufficient. "Loss looms larger than gain. One will easily pay $1000 for car insurance to avoid a loss of $30,000, but how many of us would pay $1000 for a lottery ticket with the same odds or same payoff? Additionally, the worse the potential consequences of an an event, the more one's mind tends to magnify the chances of its occurrence. So position your offering as here's what you'll lose by not acting instead of here's what you'll get," says Jack Malcolm.
"At the deepest level of the mind there are no problems only fears. There are no conflicts only fear," says Robert Holden. Understand what your customer's fears and problems are, and you will achieve something very few of your competitors can replicate. "The two biggest fears are fear of failure and fear of success. Every problem has an encounter with reality. The real challenge of a problem is that the voice of intelligence is drowned out by the roar of fear," says Mack Hanan.
Most sales people sell logically and rationally while evaluating their opportunities emotionally. They get so tied up as to whether they will make the sale or not, and they lose all objectivity and credibility. Where as they should position their offering emotionally around problems, and evaluate their opportunities logically and rationally as to the probability of conversion.
Make sure your customer does not get away with being too rational about their problems. "Customers automatically resist sales people by diverting attention away from real problems, since the real problems can be painful to admit. Buyers are willing to discuss needs and bicker about price; it protects them from delving into problematic feelings," says Jim Beech. The more rational they are about their problems the less chance you have of solving them.
The problem evaluation process is comparable to any 12 step program. The customer must start with the truth about themselves in respect to their problems. As they remove the layers away from their problem they begin to admit, accept and own up to their issues. Only then are they able to take action to fix their problems. "What compels a customer to change is they feel they pay a penalty not to change," says Bill Caskey. This process requires self-acceptance and self-honesty with not only the customer, but also with the sales person who plays the role of the trusted advisor and facilitator.
"The decision-maker's wants don't change from product to product or from service to service. Needs do, but wants don't. Wants aren't product specific. They're the emotional baggage decision-makers carry with them in every sales interaction, every buying interaction. Most buyers have no idea how much their buying decisions are influenced by their wants. So they don't bring up the subject. When it comes to the decision-maker's wants you don't have to perform. You have to understand," said Bill Brooks.
Wants are no different than the emotions that surround all problems. All problems are essentially the same for all industries and for all offerings. All problems when resolved follow a fairly predictable pattern. The key is to treat them as if they were very unique to each individual customer. If you do not do this you will have a real challenge in satisfying your customer's ego, their desire to be understood, and to have custom solutions.