Why You Should Only Present Solutions To Needs & Not To Problems

“He keeps talking in techno waffle! I don‘t  understand half of what he says. I’ve got a simple problem that needs solving, not something that requires a Rocket Scientist!

A Confused Prospect

I come across this a lot.

You  might be selling something that is pretty complicated as it is; so why make it even more complicated by not talking in the prospects language? You’ve got to remember that you live and breathe your stuff – your prospect doesn’t.

So where am I going with this?

Well, the way that you unearth your prospects needs will make or break your sales results. This  is a process that goes from the general to the specific, which enables you to understand  your customer’s  general situation; discover more about his or her problems, issues and opportunities; and help him or her define specific needs. Most salespeople understand that they’re supposed to ask questions to determine  the needs  of their customers. They  also understand the difference between “open” and “closed” questions and know to understand a need before presenting the benefits of their products.

What they often don’t understand is that this is a two-sided, not one sided, process in which both the salesperson and the prospect arrive at a joint definition of needs that is:

• Specific and understood by both parties, and

• Worth doing something about.

As a salesperson, you know far more about your company, its products and capabilities than your customer will ever know. You know what your product can do to solve some problem for him or her, and you can see the benefits of your solution. Unfortunately, the prospect generally sees only his or her problem and not your solution, especially if you present it before the need is defined and agreed on.

So Instead of:

Problem > Salesperson’s Definition > Solution

Do this:

Problem > Joint Definition > Solution

The Difference Between A Problem & A Need

A problem is an existing condition that diverges from expectations:

•  Poor performance of a machine

•  Poor image of a company

• Poor financial standing of a division

• Poor attitudes of people, etc.

A need implies change, a desire to take action to correct a problem or take advantage of an opportunity to improve:

•  Increase or enhance performance

• Improve the image of the company

• Increase profits

•  Motivate people

A need demands satisfaction, but a problem doesn’t always have to be solved.


“We have a problem with our current equipment. It’s old and it breaks down. But, until our profits improve, we’ll have to live with it.”


“We have to upgrade our equipment -new copiers, computers, faxes – or our profits will never improve.”


Define all needs to solve the total problem


During this process, concentrate on identifying as many needs as you can before presenting any solutions, so that you come up with the best solution, not bits and pieces or partial solutions.

Although you may think that needs expressed should be addressed as they are identified, it’s tactically better to wait until you and the customer have identified all possible needs, and then build your total solution around them.

Don’t ignore needs that come up; acknowledge and confirm them so that when you summarise your understanding of the customer’s total needs, you will address all his or her needs as you build a solution to them.


Don’t present  benefits to stated problems; present benefits or solutions only to needs!

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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Only Applicable Knowledge Is Power

I believe someone once said that knowledge is power. I beg to differ however. It is really only applicable knowledge that is power.

As a professional sales person, you can have all of the knowledge in the world. But unless you know how to apply that knowledge to help the buyer; it is useless. However, when you can use your knowledge to provide the right solution at the right time, it’s worth a mint! The following cute little story exemplifies what I mean.

We’ve Got A Problem
The islanders panicked as their main generator, the only source of all of the electric power on their island had stopped working. They immediately called in everyone on the island with knowledge of fixing generators.

The oldest and most reliable electrician on the island made the first attempt to fix the generator, but after four hours of work, he could not get the machine to start. He left his bill for £400. A second expert from the island went to work on the generator, also to no avail, leaving his bill for £320.

Desperate, the islanders finally called an expert from the mainland. They could never tolerate outsiders, but in this instance they had no choice.

The young man arrived by helicopter and proceeded straight to the generator. He studied it for a moment, and slowly walked around the machine. Then he got down on one knee, made a fist with his right hand and banged his knuckles on the generator with two loud knocks.

“Vavavarrooom!” Instantly the generator started right up! The man smiled, turned and got back on the helicopter and left. Later the islanders received his bill. It was for £20,002 plus airfare! Outraged, the island’s leader called the generator expert.

“What is this? Are you out of your mind?” The island leader demanded. “How could you possibly charge us £20,002 just for knocking on the machine twice?”

“No, no, no. You’ve got it all wrong.” The expert explained. “The knocks are only £2, that’s all. I charge just £1 per knock. The £20,000—–that’s for knowing WHERE to knock.”

Know Where To Knock
All of the product knowledge in the world is useless if you do not understand where and how it benefits the customer. You have to know how to apply such knowledge to solve the problems of your perspective clients. Do not sell knowledge, expertise, experience, history or even benefits. Sell solutions! Know WHERE to knock.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
Managing Director
MTD Sales Training

(Image by It’s Paige Again)

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Make Your Presentation Come Alive

I’ve sat through literally hundreds of presentations by salespeople trying to sell me their products or services. And most of them have been from companies I have actually asked to come in and tell me about their products. Whether they were office furniture salespeople who wanted to kit out our new offices or recruitment agencies for new people in the company, I have sat through some real humdingers of presentations, I can tell you!

But some have been what I consider to be quite magical. They were the ones that did their homework. They were the ones who talked about my business rather than their products. But, most importantly, they were the ones who made their presentations come alive. How?

By creating a vivid picture of how my business would be more successful when we used their products.

What did they do, specifically?

They painted pictures with their words. They made their products come alive in my mind with the language they used. They created a bespoke solution for my company by showing me how I would lose out if I didn’t say yes.

And yet, I never felt under pressure. They didn’t use tricks or tactics that made me think I was being sold to. No, they created a need in my mind that could only be satisfied with their solution.

Painting pictures with words means speaking the language of the client. One salesperson described how much time I could save using his product. He asked what I could do with the extra 30 minutes a day his product would save me. When I realised that was 10 hours a month, I was instantly intrigued by what he was offering, as I could immediately see the benefits to other areas of my business.

How can you make your presentation come alive by painting pictures with the words you use? Practice with your colleagues so you can share ideas and create presentations that really stand out against the competition.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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Some Home Truths, Solve Problems Or Open Opportunities

In a previous blog, we discussed some home truths about selling that have created a lot of interest, mainly because some people still think the old buyers still exist for their outmoded style of selling.

Here’s another of those home truths that brings salespeople kicking and screaming into the 21st century:

False: It’s the salesperson’s job to get the prospect to buy

Truth: Your intent should be to solve problems or open up opportunities

Most sales training puts the emphasis on the sales cycle, where the salesperson plans their presentation meticulously around how the product works.

Well, most buyers will not be interested in the product unless it can move the status quo for his business. In other words, they will not change a thing unless you can prove you can either eliminate some of his pain, or create some form of opportunity.

The motivational direction that the customer will choose can be summed up that way. So, either increase the pain of where he is now (or where he will stay if he doesn’t move), or open up opportunities for his business by proving how you can assist in developing the market for him.

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and identify exactly what he or his business will achieve by partnering with your business.

Of course, you can’t do this without proper and concise questioning. This will build your knowledge of the current situation and help you to create a future that would not be possible without you. This symbiosis will help you both achieve your ultimate goals…profitability and new market penetration.

By analysing how you can assist the prospect in solving problems or opening up opportunities, you increase your value and give many reasons for others to talk to you.

And that can only be good for business!

Happy selling!


Sean McPheat
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
MTD Sales Training

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A Quick And Useful Solution Selling Model To Use

Success leaves clues and from working with and training thousands of the very best sales people in the world I get a great insight into what they do and how they do it!

One of the key factors that makes these people stand out from the rest is structure.

That does not mean that they are not flexible, far from it.

When I say structure I mean that they follow a process in their client interactions or an order to make sure they get a successful outcome.

Now we’ve all heard of the million and one sales models out there and one that I like, to give you that structure is called:


Which stands for:

Probe problems – what are they and are they important?
Amount – who much is it costing them? Time, money etc
Prioritise – how big an issue is it for them?
Actions – what have they done about it?
Solution – can you present one that solves their problem?
Ask – how to move the sale forward

This is a really simple, yet very effective model to use.

Give it a go and it will provide you with the structure that you need for successul prospect and client interactions.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat
The Sales Jedi
MTD Sales Blog

MTD Sales Training

Telephone: 0800 849 6732

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