Your products and services “are far more valuable when your prospect is mistaken, confused or completely clueless about their true problem.” --Daniel Pink, “To Sell is Human”
Think about it. If your prospects know precisely what their problems are, they can often find the information they need to make their decisions−with limited assistance or input from your salespeople. They can also typically find multiple vendors with the specified products to meet their identified needs−putting you at parity with all the others.
As a result, your ability to get prospects to do something different, choose you, and pay a premium hinges less on problem-solving skills and more on problem-finding skills.
What Does This Mean For Marketing And Sales Messaging?
If your messaging is like that of most companies, then you typically address buyers’ identified needs and match them with your capabilities. The problem with this approach, however, is that when you position and sell solutions to these known needs, you are responding to the same situation as your competitors.
This is a trap. When you’re selling to the same needs as your competitors, with a similar set of solutions, prospects can’t see the difference, and your conversations end up focusing on one thing−lowering the price.
Problem Solving Puts You at Parity With Everyone Else
To escape the commodity trap, you need to create messaging that helps prospects see their situations in fresh, more revealing ways. You need to identify problems they don’t even realize they have. According to Pink, “problem finding” becomes the necessary quality in your marketing and sales messaging if you stand any chance of differentiating yourself.
As a first step to accomplishing this, you must find the “unconsidered needs” that exist beyond the obvious identified needs. Dig hard to find the unknown, undervalued, unmet challenges that your prospects and customers aren’t even thinking about. Then determine where your solution’s strengths align with specific, unconsidered needs to create what I’m calling “unconsidered value opportunities.”
It’s at this intersection between unconsidered needs and strengths that you can create value for prospects in a way that you are uniquely qualified to deliver.
Your New Job Description: Meaning Maker
In the past, buyers faced information gaps when it came to solving problems on their own. They relied on sellers to help them make a purchase decision because sellers had the information advantage. But today there’s information equality, meaning buyers can do a lot more themselves and sellers are scrambling to figure out how to remain relevant. Pink calls this the transition from “buyer beware to seller beware.”
The premium on marketing messaging and sales interactions is your ability to turn all of the raw information into something meaningful. Your new job title should be Chief Meaning Maker −not Content Marketer.
Finding the right problem to solve, and framing problems in interesting ways, is where you will bring value to future selling conversations.