What’s The Problem?

What’s The Problem?

One of the best salespeople I ever worked with had a simple philosophy.

He said his job wasn’t to sell stuff to people, it was to solve their problems.

“And the bigger their problem, the bigger my opportunity is to sell them a solution,” he said.

I saw a perfect example of what he meant when I accompanied him on a visit to a golf club when we worked together for a commercial radio station. The golf club had a large membership but was also a public course, offering rounds of golf on a walk-up-and-pay basis.

They had rarely advertised on radio and only occasionally in print.

After the usual small talk, my colleague got down to business.

“Tell me what your biggest problem is – the thing that causes you the biggest headaches,” he asked of the club’s chief executive.

The golf man thought for a while and then smiled – I’d even suggest it was a smirk.

“It’s the rain,” he said. “If you could stop it raining, you’d solve my biggest problem.”

He explained that when rain stopped play, it choked the walk-up business the club got from casual users. Worse, the threat of rain (whether it came or not) put people off making bookings in advance.

My colleague got the numbers from the chief executive – the number of days when rain stopped play, the number of walk-up customers a month and the profit from each casual booking.

A few days later, he went back to the golf club with his proposal – to become the first course to offer players a ‘Rain Check Deal’. When taking bookings, players could spend a small amount extra to take such a deal and if rain stopped their game – before or during their round – they’d be refunded in full (even if they were on the last hole). The income from the token extra charge wouldn’t cover the refunds but would ensure the customers appreciated the value of the offer.

“I can’t stop the rain,” explained my colleague, “but I can take away the damage it does to your turnover.”

The ad campaign promoting the ‘Rain Check Deal’ worked wonders, positioning the club as innovative and welcoming. It immediately grew market share as casual players shifted their custom to the course, especially during the off-peak seasons when rain was more likely (and their custom was more valuable).

So if you want to create more sales opportunities, don’t hesitate to look for more problems – somewhere among them, there’ll be a solution. And an order.

PHOTO – cnemil

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Josh Easby

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One Response to What’s The Problem?

  1. That was a very innovative strategy!  Asking what the problem is first, and then coming up with a way to solve that problem is a great way of thinking in sales.  Understanding what the consumer needs is definitely a crucial step before offering them a solution.

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