In Factories We Make Products, In the Field We Sell Problem Relief
Years ago, Charles Revson, one of the original Revlon founders stated, "In the factory we make perfume; in the store we sell hope. This concept fits very well in the emotional game of sales and problem evaluation. Here is my version; in the factory you make products, in the field you sell problem relief and alleviation. Unfortunately, mainstream sales people are too busy selling their solution to be concerned with the customer's problems.
Too many conventional sales people are positioning their offering incorrectly and hence, are selling the wrong product. If you are in the machine tool equipment business and you sell stamping equipment, do not delude yourself into believing that is what your customers are actually buying. They usually are buying something entirely different than what you are selling. They are buying a solution to a problem more so than a stand alone machine/solution.
Customers do not inherently need or want your solution per se. What they care about is the end result. When people buy hand drills are they more concerned about the drill itself, or the holes it will make? There are a lot of sales people who are selling the equivalent of drills to people who are more concerned about buying holes. Keep in mind your customers use your product/service as a means to an end, not as an end.
"Don't be afraid to have polarity in your sales engagements. Even encourage it when appropriate. Customers will either move toward you or away from you. The ones who have actual problems are obviously the ones you want to attract and those who don't in some cases you want them to move away from you," says Bill Caskey. The key is not to turn off people, or to turn your back to them, but to deprioritize them as far as someone who is not highly qualified for the time being.
Likewise with your sales messaging and positioning of your product or sales points. Your sales messaging should have built in storylines that will appeal to your ideal customer and somewhat repel someone who does not fit your ideal profile.
Customers seek success, progress and gain and cling to it with vigor and intensity because they want to be distracted by the frustration of all the things they have been missing, not getting, or are not working. The quest of gain is an avoidance strategy to deal with problems. This is basic human nature, nothing new, psychology 101 for sales.
"Fear and pleasure are like the two sides of the same coin. I call it fear/pleasure," said Krishnamurti. We are always running around chasing pleasure, gain, accomplishment, success and progress to fill the space of what is missing. The way to hide from it and deny it is through achievement. That is not good or bad. It is just the way it is.
Finding and assessing your customer's problems is an effective and efficient way to interact with customers because the ego cannot survive without something to fix. And customers rarely have the time to fix anything other than problems and priorities. It is a match made in heaven. You are guaranteed high-performing, lifetime employment in sales when using the problem-centric strategy.
No one likes to change. Most customers end up being comfortably uncomfortable. In other words they have learned to manage around their problems. Customers are very aware of the old adage of being careful what you wish for. They are often fearful that as soon as they successfully solve one problem, they will be faced with another even bigger more pressing problem of how to maintain their new positive state or outcome. So they delay and hem and haw.
Customers derive more peace of mind in pursuing initiatives and projects to avoid or minimize failure, threats, liabilities and risks, than pursuing initiatives and projects to ensure progress, growth, gain, opportunity, higher achievement and success. This clearly is not logical and rational, however the good news is customers as we know do not buy logically and rationally.
Ambition and achievement is a reflection of fear and is always covered up by success. So look for what is missing, not for what can be gained and enhanced. Talking about enhancements will always be easier and more personally rewarding on the front-end for product-centric sales people and very unrewarding on the back-end. To make matters worse, it is equally unrewarding for your intended audience.
Keep in mind, unless you can begin to separate yourself from the gratifying position that the sale is about you, your company and your product, your ego will no allow you to properly execute the problem evaluation strategy