Troubling the market about the wrong problem may actually help your competitor more than it helps you.

Businesses spend money to fix problems or to avoid problems in the future, therefore buyers want a solution to meet their needs and perceived problem. If they believe that they have a problem that a competitor solves better than you do, they will go with your competitor. You may try to convince them that they actually need the solution that you offer but that will be very hard work and low yield. Instead, it is best to change their concept of the problem, or you can trouble them about it – with Marketing – in the first place.
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Hugh Macfarlane: Troubling your market about the wrong problem might actually be helping your competitor and not you.

Funnel Vision is brought to you by Math Marketing, creators of the Funnel Plan. Math Marketing is a source for 1-2-3 B2B.

Businesses spend money to fix problems, or avoid problems in the future. What I’m going to show you now is why not all problems are to your advantage. You’ve built your solution to address a particular need. If a buyer has that need, they’re going to find your solution really attractive. But if that same buyer genuinely doesn’t have that need, but has a different need, then they’re going to find somebody else’s solution more attractive. Can you sell against that? Well, of course you can. But it’s hard. You’d clearly rather that they had concluded that they need what it is that you built your solution for.

Needs come about because of problems, either current or future problems. “Because I’ve got this problem, I need this.” Now if a buyer has a problem that logically leads them to conclude that they need what you’re good at, happy days. But if they actually have a different problem, the problem that in fact leads a logical buyer to conclude that they have a different need, then they’re going to conclude that they have a different need. And they’re going to find your competitor’s solution more attractive. Can we convince a buyer with the wrong problem that they have a different need? Again, we can it’s just hard. Clearly we would be better off if they were troubled about the right problem in the first place.

So why am I showing you more circles and arrows than Arlo Guthrie film clip? Two reasons. I’m getting you into the mind of the buyer. The way they think. But I’m also asking you to think two or even three chess moves ahead, “If this, then that.”

So we need to change their concept of what problem they actually have. Well that’s good but there’s a better approach. And the better approach is to trouble them about the problem in the first place. Your leadership team need to get the market troubled about the right problem. Which means they need to choose the right problem.

Shortly I’ll show you how to do this in Funnel Plan. But before that, I’m going to do two things. I’m going to share with you my conclusions, and I’m going to invite you to receive other blogs like this. Let’s get to the conclusion first.

Well firstly you need to get your leadership team together. Everybody needs to buy into this problem. Secondly, take a look at your current strategy. What you sell, to whom you sell, through whom you sell it, and unpack the problems that are implied by that. What problems does your product solve? What problems does your market have? What problems is your channel good at uncovering? Get a long list of problems and then separately – and this is really important – separately do two things. Firstly, as a group, agree how troubling are each of those problems? How rewarding would it be for us to focus on problem number one versus problem number two? And ignore for the moment whether you’re great or awful. Imagine that you’re equally amazing at solving all of these problems. And answer this question: how rewarding would it be if we were to be amazing at solving problem number one versus problem number two?

Then separately, and again this separation’s important – ask yourself, how good are we at solving problem number one and problem number two? Et cetera. And based on that analysis, you want to choose a problem to focus your business around solving, to become the best in the world at solving. In an ideal world, it’s going to be a problem that would be incredibly rewarding if you were good at it, and you are already. That’s Nirvana. If you can’t find a problem like that, find one that would be rewarding, and work out what it would take to be amazing at solving that problem. A rewarding problem that you’re great at solving. You actually want the combination of the two if you can. Finally, focus your business on solving that problem ahead of all others. Become the best in the world at solving that problem.

Well if you enjoyed this blog, then likely you’ll enjoy others. If you haven’t already can I invite you to subscribe to receive this blog? Go to and either subscribe to the twice a week blog, or if you prefer the once a month which has a recap of all the key blogs for the month. Frankly what most people do is subscribe to both, and you’re welcome to do that. If you prefer, you can also subscribe to the YouTube channel here and can consume these blogs in that way. Now if you have already but you’ve got a colleague who hasn’t, then now would be a great time to invite them and I’d be so grateful if you’d do that. Why don’t you do that now? Either subscribe or flick along to a friend. Come back and I’ll show you how we do that in the Funnel Plan.

I’ll do this in a few stages. Logging in first as a pre-work user. That is somebody on a free plan or the plan that you get before you’ve actually done Funnel Mastery or equivalent workshop. I have a very limited set of options in the menu as you’d hope, because I’m in pre-work mode. I don’t yet know much about the tool, and so we open up our first plan. As it turns out, this is going to be my only plan, pretty typical for pre-work user.

Now when I open that plan, I want to go straight to problems. Again I have a limited set. When I log in as a different user later on you’ll see I have more options. Log in, access the problems, and I have none at the moment. So we showed you in the blog how to think about problems. Now it’s simply a process of adding those problems those in, and we’re going to add them one at a time. I’m going to use my highly geared imagination to come up with some cracking problems, if I can type correctly. Let’s give it five. Super imaginative work there Hugh, and I’ve added five problems.

Now in pre-work mode I can’t even rate them. The first question is simply to capture good problems. When I log back in as a training user, that is somebody in the Funnel Mastery workshop, I’ve got a lot more functionality. And when I go to the problem section, you’ll see that I get to at list and choose. Let’s start with list.

Now I can assess each of these problems according to how painful they are, and how well we solve each of those problems. Having done that, I can then stack rank them. And they’re just ranked by a simple aggregate of the pain and solution scores. And I can choose which problems I want to consider in the next round of analysis just by checking the display box here. Let’s add all five of them because I’m going to need them in the next round of analysis. So that’s it. Really simple to assess them on those simple basis.

On the basis of having rated each of those problems, I can now probably make a decision. So left hand side I’ve got “List Problems”. Now I’m going to choose a problem, all under the “Problems” menu. So when under “Problems”, I can list to choose. Now I’m going to choose based on these analyses, the same problems we had listed before. I’m now going to choose one of those problems. Whatever that problem is. I might choose to make a few notes about how I chose that problem. Any conversation, any thoughts that I had, any research that I drew on. Those notes are just for my own use. And there I have selected and chosen a problem and now we’re going to take a look at the PDF that reflects that. PDF takes about 30 seconds or so to produce because it’s doing all of the funnel math analysis to calculate the three year velocity and present it all into a PDF. Let’s take a look at that PDF once it’s been produced.

And here we go. Here’s the Funnel Plan. Let me zoom out a little bit. So we’ve got the Funnel Plan which includes the objectives, the strategy, the velocity, and the tactics. Zooming in the area that we’ve just affected is the problems that we entered then analysed and then chose.

Don’t forget that at any stage you can pull up some help. Pull it out and hover over the field that you’ve got some questions about. And what you’ll get on the right hand side is some text support related to that area that you’re hovering over, as well as any related videos. For most forms, the video is just the one video, but for some forms there are multiple videos. So hover over the label of the area that you want help on, and you’ll get some help on the right hand side. You can always collapse that at any time.

Now I’ll show you next week how you get the whole team to buy into your problem choice. But for now, may your funnel be full, and always flowing.

This week’s show was researched, scripted and presented by myself Hugh Macfarlane. Production was supervised by Olivia Bradley. The video was produced by Thomas Chanter and the transcript was produced by Speechpad.