What is the ACTUAL Problem You Solve?

What is the ACTUAL Problem You Solve?

Most businesses are focused on selling their products.

Their goal is to find customers who need their product, and they try to sell it to them.

It seems simple enough, but it’s the wrong approach. Our customers don’t buy our products; they buy solutions to their problems. 

This means that you should really focus on understanding your customer's problem and developing ways to solve it. 

In this week’s Sell with Social, we’ll dive into ways that you can discover your customer’s problems, and how that will impact your digital sales strategy.

Let’s Dive In! 

Understanding The ACTUAL Problem Of Your Customer

A common mistake of business leaders is to assume that their customers want to buy their product. 

They think their customers want widget X, at a price point of $Y, and all we have to do is sell it.

But this simple approach misses the big picture. Our customers desire an outcome, not a product. They want what our product can do for them.  

What your customer wants versus what you sell. (image source)

A great framework for this is “Jobs to Be Done.” Popularized by Professor Clay Christensen, this approach asks, “What job is our product being hired for?” 

After you answer that question, you can further innovate, develop, and market your product, focusing on solving the problem that your customer actually has.

My Example - Website Hosting Services

For a long time, our previous business (a web design firm) intentionally stayed out of offering website hosting services.

Our thought was that website hosting is a commoditized service, and our clients were able to choose to host on their own through a service like GoDaddy or WP Engine. We didn’t want to get into a space where it was a race to the bottom.

However, our clients continued to run into issues with hosting snafus, including strange errors, poor support, and confusion over technical configurations.

Here is what we discovered - our clients didn’t want to buy a web hosting service. 

Instead, they wanted to buy peace of mind that their website was up and running smoothly.

This was a major shift in thinking about how and why we would develop a web hosting service.

In our case, the “specs” of the service were less important than the service quality, level of support, and the ability for our customers to know that everything was being taken care of.

We decided to launch our web hosting service. It was 10X the cost of GoDaddy and offered far less access to control panels and server commands. However, despite it still being optional for our clients to choose from, over 70% of our clients chose to go with our hosting service. 

Why? It’s simply because our service solved their problem.

How to Identify Your Customer’s Problem

When you think about your business, are you focused on solving problems or selling products?

If you are currently bringing in revenue, you clearly have been able to solve some problem. The key now is to fully understand what that problem is and how it is effecting your customer.

Here are three ways to identify that problem:

1. Discovery Calls

Use every sales call as an opportunity to better understand your customer’s problems. Let them do the talking, and listen closely as they describe both their current situation and their ideal outcome.

  • Encourage Them to Talk More: Start with open-ended questions like, "Tell me more about your situation." This invites them to share detailed information.
  • Ask Probing Questions: Focus on uncovering struggles and pain points rather than specific product requests. For example, "What challenges are you facing with your current solution?"
  • Understand Their Ideal Outcome: Ask questions like, "What does success look like for you?" to get a clear picture of their desired end result.

2. Customer Interviews

Talking to existing customers can provide valuable insights into their problems and how your product can solve them.

  • What They Like About Your Product: Ask customers what features or benefits they find most valuable. This can highlight key problem-solving aspects of your product.
  • Why They Chose Your Product: Understand the decision-making process and what factors led them to select your product over others.
  • Alternative Solutions: If they didn’t choose your product, what else would they have done? This helps you understand not just your direct competition but also indirect competitors like the status quo or in-house solutions.

3. Social Listening

Join social groups where your target audience discusses their challenges. Look at the common recurring questions and problems that are raised.

  • Identify Relevant Groups: Find and join social media groups, forums, and online communities where your target audience is active.
  • Monitor Discussions: Regularly check the conversations to identify recurring problems and questions. Pay attention to the language and terms used by your potential customers.
  • Engage and Ask Questions: Participate in discussions by offering helpful advice and asking follow-up questions. This can provide deeper insights and build rapport with your audience.

Implementing these three strategies can help you gain a comprehensive understanding of your customers' problems, allowing you to tailor your solutions and messaging more effectively.

7 Ways to Sell The Solution in Your Strategy

Once you've identified the underlying problems your customers are trying to solve, you can use this understanding to create more effective content and social selling strategies. Here's how:

1. Tailored Content Creation

Create content that directly addresses the specific problems your customers face. This could include blog posts, videos, and infographics offering actionable solutions. For example, if customers struggle with data management, you could publish a guide on best practices for data organization and security.

2. Educational Content

Host webinars and workshops that provide in-depth insights into solving specific problems, demonstrating your expertise and the value of your solutions. For instance, a webinar on "How to Streamline Your Financial Reporting Process" could attract finance professionals dealing with reporting challenges.

A webinar I presented on how to build a personal brand.

3. Personalized Social Selling

Use insights from customer problems to personalize your outreach messages and engage in relevant conversations. For example, you might send a message to a potential customer saying, "I noticed that many finance teams struggle with timely financial reporting. Our software can automate key processes, ensuring accuracy and efficiency."

4. Thought Leadership

Write articles and participate in speaking engagements to position yourself as an expert in solving the problems your customers face. An example could be publishing an article on "The Future of Data Security in the Cloud Era" to attract customers concerned about data protection.

5. Social Proof and Testimonials

Collect and share testimonials that highlight how your solution addressed specific customer problems. For instance, a LinkedIn post featuring a testimonial from a client who reduced their customer support response time by 30% using your software can build credibility and trust.

6. Problem-Specific Campaigns

Develop targeted marketing campaigns focused on the specific problems your customers face. For example, you could run a LinkedIn ad campaign targeting IT managers, promoting a whitepaper on "Top Strategies for Preventing Data Breaches."

7. Continuous Feedback Loop

Gather ongoing feedback from customers to stay updated on their evolving problems and needs. Regularly surveying customers to understand their current challenges and adjusting your content strategy accordingly can ensure your efforts remain relevant and effective. For example, analyzing engagement metrics on your blog posts and social media can help identify which topics generate the most interest, allowing you to refine your content plan.

By leveraging your customers' problems, you can create highly relevant and valuable content that resonates with your audience, positions you as an expert, and ultimately drives more sales.

For this week’s action items, I want you to consider what your customer's true problem is. 

This is the key to unlocking not only a better sales strategy but also an overall business and product innovation plan. 

Here are this week’s action items: 

  1. Keep a Notepad Handy: For every customer-facing call you have this week, keep a notepad next to your desk. Write down how your customers talk about their struggles, problems, and ideal outcomes. Pay close attention to the specific language they use and the emotions they express.
  2. Reflect on Each Call: After each call, take a few minutes to review your notes. Consider what the true "job" your product is being hired to do. Think about how your product addresses the underlying needs and challenges your customers mentioned.
  3. Incorporate Insights: Use the insights from your notes to inform your content and sales strategies. Identify common themes and problems that you can address in your next blog post, webinar, or social media campaign. This will help ensure your messaging resonates with your audience and effectively addresses their needs.

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