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Solutions, Solutions Everywhere – But No Value To Be Found

by Doug Davidoff | Jun 23, 2006 11:59:38 AM

I seem to be ranting a lot lately about words and phrases that drive me crazy. Forgive me, but I’m about to add ‘solutions’ to the list. Everybody is out there talking about their “solutions.” The problem is that most of them have no idea what the “problem” is that their solution is supposed to solve.

Let me explain something that is very basic – if there is not a problem, there can be no solution. Period. No questions or discussion. I’d like to request that all salespeople and marketers stop talking to me about how wonderful their solution is. When they talk to me this way, all they do is demonstrate that they clearly have absolutely no understanding of the problems that matter most to me.

Let’s just say, for the moment, that you sell printing ‘solutions.’ Further, let’s say that I am a prospect for your printing ‘solution.’ Let’s go out on a limb and say that I own a business development consulting company and that I both advise clients on marketing implementation and do my own marketing implementation. As a leading provider of printing ‘solutions’, you want my printing business.

Let’s be clear, no matter how bad my current situation may be – I do not (repeat, do not) have a printing problem. No matter how expensive my current printing is or how bad and ugly the current printing may be – I still do not have a printing problem.

I may have a client satisfaction problem. I may have a cost (and, therefore, a gross margin) problem. I may have a time problem or a resource allocation problem. I may have a client acquisition or growth problem. I remind you that I do not have a printing problem. Now, I may talk about my printing as a problem. I may be excited and interested to discuss my dissatisfaction with my current printing ‘solution.’ I may even buy printing from you. However, if you don’t identify, diagnose and discuss my actual (underlying) problem then you are not providing a solution, you are providing a commodity. Don’t confuse the two.

If you go to market with a solution, you better be trained and prepared to demonstrate your understanding of your client’s real problem first. I encourage you to read this about how to begin to make the transition from selling solutions to actually creating value by making client problems go away.