Businesses pay money to have their problems solved. Sometimes they will pay a lot, and sometimes they won’t.

As a consequence, some problems are more ‘attractive’ than others to sales-oriented businesses that are offering solutions.

As a seller, you may be the only game in town when it comes to solving some problems, and in a big pack for others.

The challenge is to identify a buyer problem, or problems, that match your strong suits. Better still, find out what problems you can solve better than your competitors.

Make a long list of all the problems your market faces, and which you can solve.

Now it is time for some questions:

Look to your buyers first:

  • ask past customers what may have happened if they had not bought your solution (or one like it);
  • ask pre-sales staff for input – they often have great insights into buyer problems; and
  • ask potential future customers in your target market about the challenges they face as a business (focus groups are a good forum).
  • try to get a friendly non-customer to walk you through their budget priorities for the year. Ask them what could happen if they don’t spend a cent of the budget. Add the answers to your list.

Then note all the problems your solutions solve. Quiz your R&D folk about what ‘bad’ scenarios they are trying to eradicate for buyers. Often they will tell you only about the benefits of a product or service. Keep digging to find out what could happen to the buyer if they do not use your solution.

Finally, add to this list the problems your channel knows about:

  • what problems are they good at uncovering?
  • what problems do they get called about all the time?
  • what problems do they stumble across in the normal course of their work?

Prioritise this list

It is decision time. Some of the businesses’ problems may be richly rewarding, but for whom? You need to carefully assess the relative merit of each in terms of their potential to reward your business.

Consider all the factors that could make one problem more attractive than another, and rate each. Does one problem affect more businesses than another? Is it spreading faster than others? Is the competition for solutions likely to be more or less intense? Is this changing?

Next, honestly assess your strengths in terms of solving these problems. Do you have a killer proposition? Are you well known for this proposition?

Now choose the ‘best’ problem.

Perhaps this process of analysis sounds theoretical and overly complex? Remember, though, that doing your homework is crucial:

  • If you are good at solving buyer problems that are not rewarding, you’ll major in the minors.
  • On the other hand, if you are focusing on the right problem but from a position of weakness, the competition will eat your lunch.

Three options are likely to present themselves.

  1. If you are fortunate, you will identify a problem that is rewarding for your business and which you are strong at solving. Focus and enjoy.
  2. Perhaps you will find a problem that offers potential rewards, but it is not your strong suit. So get busy overcoming your weaknesses, but this may take time to pay off.
  3. Or you may find a problem you are well-equipped to solve, but is not very rewarding. Recognise that this is a short-term option only, and use it to buy you time to look for more rewarding options.

Don’t forget – businesses are happy to dig deep into their pockets to eliminate a problem. Choose the right scenario and you’ll profit.