Thursday, December 18, 2008

When “Solutions Before Problems” Approach is OK?

So, they say that dumb overeager salespeople push “what they have” no matter “what the customer needs” – and, more often  than not, end up with BOTH an annoyed customer and some damage to their employer’s brand (yes, it might be all about his/her personal sleaziness, but it DOES damage the employer’s brand!) On the other hand, it is said that a smart salesperson will always inquire about “what problem does the customer have?” and then position/describe his wares accordingly, IF they are indeed a fit for his needs.

I happen to agree with this and think that problems should be visible before solutions are unpacked. Other people mention it as well (recent example from Andy’s blog and its continuation, and then here and again here; read it – its fun!)

However,  what happens when a customer insists: “tell me what ya have!”  There are, curiously, many versions of that, when a customer confronts you with something like this:

  • “You guys are experts; tell me what I need to be doing ‘to be OK’”
  • “Please tell me which options I should enable”
  • “Just give me a document explaining how I can “be secure” using your product”
  • “You tell me which one is the best!”

(all above examples are fictitious, but “inspired by true stories”)

I can fight it (and I did fight it on a few occasions in the past, actually, insisting on problem description), but it creates a bizarre paradox:

“Customer is always right” + “problems before solutions” + “customer wants to hear about solutions first” = ?

Just sharing an observation… 

Dr Anton Chuvakin