Trouble your market about the right problem

Don’t ask your prospects what’s keeping them up at night, because you really don’t care if they have a problem you can’t solve. What you do care about is how much the problem you do solve is hurting them.

Be strategic – even selfish – and help your market understand why the problem you solve should be at the top of their list.

Let me explain why some problems help your competitors more than they help you.

Establish a need

Your solution, whether it’s a product or a service or a combination of both was designed to meet a particular need, and if your market has that need or some buyers in your market have that need, then they’re going to look at your solution and say: “Where have you been all my life? That’s exactly what I need”, because you decided to meet that need. That’s great. But what if they don’t? What if they actually don’t have that need, but a different need? Well, the odds are pretty good that somebody else built a solution for that different need, and, if they looked at that other solution and compared it to yours, they’d find the other solution more attractive.

Can you still sell your product or service if they’ve got the wrong need, the other need? You can, but it’s just really hard. It’s pretty much why sales get a bad rep, and the yield is going to be very low. A good salesperson knows that, and instead what they’re going to do is change the concept of what the buyer thinks they need with good questioning, and sharing some knowledge and insight. Quite frankly, you know more about the need that you solve better than the rest of your customers do. You can help them with that superior knowledge to understand why they may be thinking about the need, in not quite the right way. That’s the job of a good salesperson, and frankly it’s also a job of marketing, but ill come to that in a moment.

Target the problem

There are some problems, that logically if a buyer is thinking clearly they will work out, if I’ve got this problem, then I probably need that need, and as we’ve already agreed if I need this, then I’ll find your solution very attractive. There are other business problems that frankly don’t give rise to that need at all, but rather to a different need, which again, is met better by somebody else, by a competition. So we really want the market to be worried about the right problem. Can we still convince the market that they have a need aligned to what you’re already good at meeting, if they have the wrong problem, that is the problem that leads logically to a different need? Well again, we can, but it’s hard.

Instead, again through good questioning and sharing information and acknowledging experience in case studies, we can help the buyer work out that the problem that they’re focusing on, might not actually be the right thing to focus on. Again, the job of a good salesperson, and increasingly they have the job of marketing because buyers progress so far down the funnel before they’re willing to engage, you actually need marketing to be doing some of that troubling.

Focus on the market

So really we’d rather the market be worried about the right problem, the one that you can solve better. There are some parts of your market that no matter how hard you try, again we arrive at the right problem. There are also some parts of the market, no matter how hard you try, that again arrive at a different conclusion if they have a different problem, the one that’s met by a different need, solved by a different solution, the one that you’ll loose with.

Can you convince the wrong part of the market that they’ve got the problem that you solve? We can, but again, it’s much smarter for us to be focused on the part of the market that’s more likely, more able, to connect with the problem that we solve better than anybody else, and get them worried about that problem and help them work out what they need.

So, there’s quite a strategic stack here, and the benefit of this thinking is, if you think what your stack looks like, and you think about what your competitive stack looks like and don’t only message to the market about the problem that you solved, but maybe even anti message. By that I mean you may well be thinking A, B and C, but experience has shown that D, E and F shift them from one concept to the other. That used to be the job of sales, but because again the buyer wants to progress so far down the journey before they’re willing to engage with your sales people, it’s actually increasingly the job of marketing. Marketing that puts on events to say all the happy things about your products, it’s benefits, it’s points of difference, and the way it’s great is doing you disservice. Marketing actually needs now, modern marketing, needs to help play a role in getting the market worried about the problem that you know how to solve better than anybody else.

Final thoughts

In your funnel plan, you need to identify the problem that you can solve better than anybody else, and that’s troubling enough for the market firm to worry about. If you haven’t got a funnel plan, get a free one. You can go there now, and get a free funnel plan at If you want do that now, you can of course take the paid up grade that gives you so much more functionality, but I’d start with a free one.

Go to, get yourself a free one, then identify the problem that you solve better than anybody else in your market and get bust troubling the market about that problem and help them to realise why it’s a priority problem for them to solve.


I have lots more lined up for you next week, and until then may your funnel be full and always flowing.

Our thanks

  • Rhianna Busler for production
  • Hugh Macfarlane for scripting and presenting this week’s show