A Customer's Problems Are an Inside Job
Not an Outside Job
From the customer's perspective all problems are an inside job not an outside job. Customer's resistance and guilt of their problems causes more trouble and anxiety than the actual problem itself. This is where you can really connect with empathy and understanding.
Their problems are emotional problems and not necessarily concrete and tangible. Most mainstream sellers make the mistake of treating their customer's problems as tangible, resulting in not having empathy, or a good bedside manner in taking them thru uncomfortable discussions about their business.
Customers spend 50-90% of their time in fantasy thinking about what had happened, what might have happened, how others think about it, how they feel about it and how others contributed to their problems. This is run-of-the-mill everyday thinking. Always keep in mind that they'll experience more frustration with the afterthoughts of their problems than with the actual event itself. If you don't fully understand their reactions and feelings they generally won't give you as much of an inside track.
With the problem-centric strategy you have to regress to progress. All problems are based on the structure of past, present and future. Conventional sales people only address one element of the equation; the future. They do this because this is where they have more say and input. But the past is where the real action is because that's the location of the original sin (problem).
The past has a profound impact on customers. Yet sales people gloss over it because the real exhilaration and rush in conventional selling is the all-important and pervasive proof of concept – selling and telling, pitching and ditching.
As a problem solver you want to get your customer to be pensive and retrospective. Your future is in the customer's past, not in their future. Let them relive their problems again firsthand so that they can get a firm handle on whether they want to prioritize it and act upon it. Use deductive logic and help them connect the dots. Draw on the past to predict the future of the possible acceptance of a new solution from you.
Ronald Reagan was noted as a master communicator who could emotionally connect and vocalize the frustration of the general public. By all standards he was a great seller of his vision. Classic sellers sell the exact opposite way.
Customers connect more with how you effectively and emotionally describe what they don't have as opposed to what they could have. It takes more emotional intelligence to communicate the latter than the former. That's why it's more valued and appreciated by customers.
Pose problems and hypothetical weaknesses, not hypothetical solutions. You start with their problems and if applicable work back towards the resolution, not the other way around. The strength of your sales message is in direct proportion to the weakness of your customer's problems.