An excellent post was published several months back that focuses on this simple premise:
People don’t buy value propositions; they buy problem definitions.
The author’s point is that solution providers tend to accept a client’s definition of what the problem is too easily. When this is done and the definition is wrong, then the solution is going to be wrong as well. Who hasn’t learned the hard way from this mistake? I certainly have.
The reality is that people in need of help rarely have the problem accurately defined. They may pretend to initially, but in most cases they want assistance arriving at the right answer. They’re seeking expertise, or at least some validation that they’re correct. They want to speak with someone who knows their business, asks smart questions and listens effectively to their responses.
Consultants who do this will put themselves in excellent position to define the problem jointly with clients. And as the author makes clear, once this stage in the relationship is reached, the job of “selling” yourself is mostly done. Enough rapport and trust will have developed with the buyer by this point that the only thing left will be to work out the implementation details.
Charles Green’s wisdom can be found here: