Instead of solving the first problem, solve the real problem

Value InspirationThere hasn’t a week gone by the past months where I didn’t have a lively discussion with my customers about ‘what’s the real problem you think you are solving’. You might think ‘so what?!’ but believe me – getting this 100% clear makes our lives in marketing, sales and product development so much easier – and more importantly, the value for our customers so much bigger.

What I often see is that our marketing communication, sales argumentation and product roadmap touches upon the ‘problem-area’ but isn’t crystal clear on what the real problem is. An example: When ask you customer about their priorities they’ll happily give you their list: Increase efficiency, decrease over-spend, increase compliancy, decrease risk, increase employee engagement, and so on. Obviously they mention these as priorities for a reason – but funny enough, more often than not they are unclear what that real priority is.

The problem is, if we’re not alert to that, we end up solving the wrong problem meaning we’re underselling the real potential and miss a big opportunity for value creation for our customers.

Uncover the underlying motivator

The underlying motivators for these ‘priorities’ is what we need to uncover. It’s our responsibility to keep digging deeper by asking more questions: What are the underlying drivers for your priorities? What does your company stand for / what does it value? Where does it aspire to be in 24-36 months? What are the three most important business goals to track progress? How do your priorities relate to this? What is the real challenge here for you? What would be the consequence of getting this wrong?

Digging deeper will reveal the priorities that matter. The priorities that have board level attention and serious repercussions if they’re not met. Articulating the real priorities will make things click. It’s where reality kicks in. It helps them realize the importance of their work in relation to the big picture. That helps to create the real tension, and that drives urgency. That’s what you are after.

Be honest – ‘3x the size of our company before 2022’ does carry more weight than ‘increasing efficiency’. ‘Obtain an NPS score of +70’ carries more weight than ‘Increase customer engagement’.

The moment you uncover the real priority you broaden your options to add value. You become the guide to your prospects and customers and have the ability to surprise them with new creative ways to solve the challenge in ways they didn’t expect. Besides that you’ll become more resourceful across every aspect of your company. Everything gets more targeted and with that you’ll free up the resources so you can do what it takes to always be one step ahead. That’s possibly solving a very real problem for yourself.

So, here’s a challenge for you: What are you working on right now where you could challenge whether the assumed problem is actually the real problem? Please share the outcome.