written by
Justin Theng

How To Be A Problem Solver

3 min read

The first question you should always ask before talking to a prospect, isn't "What problems can I solve?" 

The first and most important question is "What problems do they have?"

See the difference?

You don't want to say to yourself, "Well the problem is that people don't know about my business." That's not a real problem. That's a problem for you. It's not a problem for them

Back when I was writing ads and doing the marketing for Black and Decker cleaning products, I was tasked with selling the new vacuum cleaner.

Closest I've ever come to being a vacuum cleaner Salesman.

But I didn't know on doors. I knocked on minds, so to speak, via outdoor advertising.

The product was a had held, and very powerful, vacuum, that essentially could replace the big bulky versions because of a new battery they invented.

So I started digging for a great human insight I could use to build rapport with the buyers.

I used my own experience, and that of my friends, and landed on this. 

The problem wasn't necessarily that people have a dirty house. They usually have a somewhat clean house, but life gets busy and things get left around. 


Okay, so if you're not that kind of human being, and your house is always spotless, don't worry, this vacuum isn't for you anyway.

I noticed that people often had to do last minute cleaning, especially when people are coming to visit. So the human insight is that people often just want the quickest easiest way to hide or deal with the mess in the last minute.

Typical scenarios: The in-laws dropping by, a date that could end in "coffee" (or Netflix), a friend picking something up etc... 

You can imagine the fun we had creating the ads around this.

What about you then?

All you have to do is write down what genuine problems your customers have, and then you can start framing your solution in that context. Because let's face it, prospects don't always know that they want to buy your services yet necessarily. 

They do know that they have a problem, or if they don't you'll need to highlight the problem in the first place before trying to sell a solution.

That's what I did with Black and Decker. The message went something like "You know how when people come over in the last minute, and it's this super stressful moment because your house isn't looking very tidy?" Now the prospect has the context of cleaning that they weren't anticipating. 

What are the actual problems your prospects have? Put yourself into their shoes, and forget about your services for a sec. What are their unique challenges? Now scratch out any problem that is too high-level, and impossible to solve. Prioritise your solutions accordingly.

I hope this helped. At very least we can all go sell vacuums.

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