No one buys a solution for a problem they don't have

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drill and drill bit with phrase no one buys a solution for a problem they don't have

Millions of drills are sold each year, and yet, I have never met someone who wanted a drill.

What they wanted was a hole.
No one buys a solution for a problem they don't have.
And yet, most marketers jump right into features and benefits, without taking the time to understand if the person on the other end of the conversation/call/letter believes they even have a problem. This seems particularly prevalent in business to business marketing where we just assume that the prospect feels the pain that we are there to fix.
The challenge is this: If you don't think you have a problem, you won't be looking for a solution. You won't wake up in the morning dreaming about how to solve it, or go to bed wondering how much it's costing you to ignore it.
And so the challenge is to find the problem.
Interesting paradox: a lot of people aren't willing to embrace that they have a problem unless they also believe that there's a solution (I don't mind walking places, but if I knew I could somehow fly like superman then being limited to walking would really irk me). Part of selling a problem is hinting that there's a potential solution out there that others are using, or is right around the corner.)
When a prospect comes to the table and says, "we have a problem," then you're both on the same side of the table when it comes time to solve it, "selling" becomes a team sport where the prospect and you are on the same team and the enemy is the problem. 
How do you apply this?
In face to face selling:
If the words coming out of your mouth would naturally have a period at the end of them, then you're doing something wrong. In the early going, what comes out of your mouth should end in question marks followed by long stretches of silence where you listen to their answer which should be more then Yes/No. Open-ended questions and active listening. Ask questions about them, about their business, about their family, about their goals, anything to help you help them to find the pain point that come from the problem. Don't ever start talking about the solution until you have found their pain point. even if that means leaving the meeting without ever telling them about what you do and how wonderful you are.
Putting together marketing pieces that sell:
This is where we so often just want to scream and shout all the features and benefits of of our totally awesome product or solution but that just turns people off, it screams pushy sales guy in a bad suit with a too-short red tie that has been taught the sales system of "always be closing." He just wants to extract all the money he can out of your pocket before he beats a hasty retreat and moves on to terrorizing someone else. You can do better then that. 
You don't have the luxury of asking the questions to find the pain point in those situations so you have to depend on your targeting of who is going to actually read what you are putting together. But how should you best organize monologue to make it actually end up being a dialogue in the mind of the reader and still lead them through the process of finding their pain point and show them the solution. 
I have found this template to be the most simple and effective way of writing copy that actually sells.
1) State the Problem
2) Agitate the problem
3) Provide the solution
Simple sounding, but often hard to produce because every fiber of your being will want to shortchange the first two points and quickly get back to that comfort zone of vomiting up your awesomeness. You need to get into that dialogue going on in the mind of your reader so that when you talk about the problem they will be right there with you and when you agitate the problem they will start to sweat and have their stomach start to tie up in knots and when you finally, finally get to the solution, it brings relief.
How about Marketing online?
Many of the same things stated above will apply to this as well but you should add more of the inbound marketing perspective to it. Before you actually try to sell to them or even agitate the problem you need to attract to you people who self-identify as having a problem or having an interest in a solution. Because your not sending something to them, you are trying to get them to find you. You will need to find the way to get them to come along side of you and admit that they have a problem.
Really, "selling" done properly is coming alongside someone else and helping them to find a solution to their problem. 
What solution are you seeking? Visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at to find out more information.


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