How much time have you spent over the last couple of years vetting new solutions to offer your prospects and clients? If you’re like most agencies, it has consumed countless hours and even more mental calories. The angst and anxiety you feel are real.

  • Can the new solution provider do what they say they do?
  • What would be the return on investment (ROI)?
  • So many of these new solutions look alike; how do I know which one is best?
  • (And the greatest source of anxiety)—what if my competition has the best solution and I don’t?

Evolving the way you serve clients is critical, more today than ever before. You can't deny that your clients need your help in ways they never have. Which means you need access to new resources. But, the million-dollar question, which ones?

“Siri, which way should I go?”

There are two paths an agency can follow to meet the expanding needs of their clients. More accurately, there is a single path that can be taken in one of two directions. On one end are the challenges faced by your target audience; on the other end are products and solutions that can fix those problems.

Because agencies start at the wrong end, most take the path in the wrong direction. Most agencies get excited about some new product and then look for as many clients as possible to buy that product. Their new business, in effect, depends on someone else’s product.

This is fine until any of these roadblocks get in their way:

  • They run into a competitor with a better product.
  • Someone offers the same product at a cheaper price.
  • The product fails or is taken away from them.
  • Or, most likely of all, the client is resistant to another product pitch.

Then these product-focused agencies “rinse and repeat," hunting for another product and starting the client search all over again.

About face

We advise agencies to take the opposite approach. Instead of focusing on the product, we recommend you FIRST commit to understanding and addressing the challenges and solving the problems that hold your buyers back.

Break the ridiculous habit of showing up with a capabilities presentation and that laundry list of products you’ve accumulated. Instead, arrive with an insatiable desire to uncover what it is that’s preventing the buyer from reaching their potential.

Make this commitment without bringing your own assumptions. When you first meet a prospect, don’t assume you know what they need. At the same time, don’t assume they know what they need either.

We’ve all heard the advice to ask, “What is it that keeps you up at night?’ so often that it probably feels cheesy to ask the question. Some will even tell you to avoid the question, not only because it’s cheesy, but some will say the client doesn’t know what they need or want.

Henry Ford is famously quoted as saying, “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’”

But don't let that keep you from moving in this direction. While your prospects and audience may not have any idea of the product they need, they understand the problems they need to be solved. They may not know HOW they will “go faster,” but they understand the pain of being too slow.

It would be insulting and short-sighted for you not to ask about the challenges they already understand.

What isn't keeping them up but should be?

Your prospects and clients are smart people. They do know "what it is that's keeping them up at night." However you ask that question, give them a chance to share what they already know is broken.

It is also important to remember that their most significant problem may be something they aren't aware of until you help them see it. Be prepared to share the challenges you have helped other clients fix. When you do this, the buyer sitting in front of you will often see their situation in a new light, one which will illuminate problems they never knew existed.

You’re both moving in a healthier direction

When you move down your evolutionary path from a starting point of your buyer’s problems, you will navigate the journey with greater confidence. Finding the next solution to address your client's needs becomes infinitely easier when you have clarity of those needs.

Instead of being stopped by the roadblocks mentioned earlier, you will find a clearer path.

  • While traditional competitors discuss products they have to sell, you’ll be discussing problems your buyer may have.
  • Instead of selling products based on offering the lowest price, you can demand a premium for the problems you solve.
  • You control your value proposition. After all, nobody can take your ability to solve problems away.
  • When buyers understand your ability to make them more successful, they’ll be the ones asking you for an opportunity to talk.

Follow this approach with every buyer, and they will tell you everything you need to know to grow your business—without any guesswork.

P.S. – Problem solving beats product selling every single time.

 

Photo by peshkova