A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham McGregor: On the value of solving customer's problems...

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Houston, we have a problem. Photo / Getty Images
Houston, we have a problem. Photo / Getty Images

A few years ago I read a helpful book by Michael Le Bouef called How to win and keep Customers.

In his book, Michael said that every customer really wants two things when they buy any product or service.

The first thing they want is a solution to a problem.

The second thing they want is to feel good.

So one of our first goals in selling is to identify our customer's problems.

A helpful way to do this is to use the 'doctor of selling' approach:

Let me explain...

A few years ago I picked up a nasty stomach virus that put me in bed for a few days with chronic diarrhoea and several other unpleasant symptoms.

I decided it was time to get some medical help.

My doctor went through a very simple process with me.

First of all he asked my some questions so he could understand what was wrong with me. Then he did a thorough medical examination to confirm my condition. Finally he advised me the steps to follow to fix my problem.

What my doctor didn't do when I first walked into his office was say

"Graham we have a great special this week on diarrhoea treatments and I think you should take advantage of it."

In other words he didn't offer a prescription before understanding clearly what his patient's problem was.

So the 'doctor of selling' approach means you take a similar approach with your clients.
Get an understanding of your customer's current situation and work out what their pain or problem is. (This is the examination and diagnosis).

You will only be remembered for two things: the problems you solve or the ones you create.
Mike Murdock

Then make your recommendations on how they can solve this problem.
(This is the prescription.)

Once you have identified the problem your customer wants solved, it can be helpful to find out all the reasons why they want it solved.

In other words how will they be 'better off' in some way after solving their problem?

Example for someone wanting to lose weight:

A customer is unhappy with the way their body looks right now.
Perhaps they want to lose weight.

You ask the question 'Why is this important to you?' and you could hear different answer.
One person may want to lose weight to look good for a school reunion coming up in a few months. Another person is keen to lose weight so they will have more energy to play with their young children. Someone else may want to lose weight so they could improve their career prospects in a particular industry.

So, the same problem being solved can have several different benefits

Example for a home cleaning service:

A common customer problem that using a home cleaning service will solve is having a dirty or messy house. However another benefit that a customer will enjoy by having someone else clean their home is they won't have to spend the time to do it themselves. So a customer will effectively have more leisure time to enjoy.

A large home cleaning company began selling their home cleaning service as a way to solve the problem of "How can busy business people and executives have more leisure time?" and their sales exploded.

(Their competitors were still focussed on solving what they thought was the customer problem of having a dirty or messy home.)

Keep in mind that many customers will pay good money to have an important problem solved for them. So think about the important problems that your products and services could help your own customers solve.

"You will only be remembered for two things: the problems you solve or the ones you create." - Mike Murdock

Action Exercise:
Take time to look at all the problems that your products and services can solve for your customers. And start positioning what you sell as a solution to these problems.

You'll be delighted at the difference it makes to your sales results.

Graham McGregor is a consultant specialising in memorable marketing. You can download his 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage' Ebook at no charge from www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com

- NZ Herald

Graham McGregor is a consultant specialising in memorable marketing. You can download his 396 page 'Unfair Business Advantage' Ebook at no charge from www.theunfairbusinessadvantage.com.

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A weekly marketing column by Graham McGregor

Graham has had 36 years 'hands on' experience in sales and marketing. He has sold a range of services including advertising, sales training, personal development, life insurance, IT services, investment property and business consulting services.

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