Path to problems


As with failure, Selling has its own hierarchy of sophistication and impact. In order of the least sophisticated and least profitable to most, it goes…

  1. Order Taking – Customer ask for X, and you give it to them.
  2. Solution Selling – Customer asks for a solution to problem Y and you give them X which solves it.
  3. Transformative Selling – Customer doesn’t know he wants X and doesn’t even know he has problem Y (which he really does). You highlight problem Y and then sell him product X.

A Seth-urday special is Godin’s post ‘Solving problems (vs. identifying them)’ is not specifically meant to be about “selling” per se, but nonetheless prescribes an approach to thinking that would make any salesperson excel through an implicit embrace of failure…

  • “Often, we’re hesitant to identify a problem out of fear we can’t solve it. Knowing that we have to live with something that we’re unable to alter gives us a good reason to avoid verbalizing it–highlighting it just makes it worse. While this sort of denial might be okay for individuals (emphasis on might), it’s a lousy approach for organizations of any size. That’s because there are almost certainly resources available that can solve a problem if you decide it’s truly worth solving. Put yourself and your people on a path to finding problems without regard for whether or not they are capable of solving them. Queue them up, prioritize them and then go find the help your organization needs to solve them. Just because you don’t know what to do about it doesn’t make it less of a problem.”

Great Transformative Salespeople not only ferret out such failures and problems, but they provide an invaluable service for their customers who are stuck in Godin’s hesitancy. This lattermost sales approach is the most effective, the most lucrative and the most secure jumping the queue of other wannabe vendors just waiting around to react to a customer’s needs.