Why focus on your problems rather than your solutions
Normally, excluding those who are just fishing around or who contact us simply to compare our services with someone else’s (it happens!), clients approach us in one of two ways:
Clients asking for a specific service
This is the most common situation we experience. It usually is expressed through statements such as “My business needs a social strategy,” “I want to put in place X, Y or Z performance measurement solution,” “I want to distribute my products through Amazon, what do I do?” or even “How can I improve my site’s visibility in search engines?” The number of internal digital experts on the client side is rising considerably, which has increased the frequency of this type of request. This is good news, since the more we talk about digital, the more quickly and definitively the shift to digital will take place. On the other hand, this way of approaching a firm offering expertise could close the door too early on solutions that might be better suited to solving the underlying issue.
Clients with a specific business problem
In this situation, the requests we receive are more along the lines of “How do I increase my online sales?” or “How can we monetize the heavy traffic our site receives?” or finally “How can digital ensure the growth of our business?” A firm responding to such questions has to work a lot harder to find an answer, get people to work together, break through silos, integrate offers and think more deeply, but believe me, this is the approach that we prefer. This is what generates more value of our clients.
When you go to the doctor, do you tell her “Please remove my appendix”? Or do you say “My stomach hurts, I need an examination”?
This kind of represents the same problem.
Presenting a problem as a client creates possibilities and enables the actual underlying, deeper problem, which is most likely the real cause of the issue, to be addressed. For example, a client asking us to help them with their social strategy might have a deeper problem with their content strategy, which might be more difficult to fix, but if solved could generate repeat traffic from search engines as well as create opportunities for paid digital media.
If the firm that is treating the problem has to work harder to apply adapted solutions, this will end up benefiting the client. The client will emerge from the experience with more global, better integrated solutions that will help them think about and conceive solutions in a more holistic manner. Whether they do business with us or not, they will better understand their problem and have progressed further in their project. On the agency’s side, it will have gained a bit more experience and have been exposed to a wider range of client issues and realities, which will only deepen the experience of its consultants.
Even when many client-side experts have already put a lot of thought into a problem, a third party that is objective, external to the client and can weigh in on what approach to take can bring credibility to a solution that was already found internally. If both parties arrive at the same approach, the outside evaluation will only add value. By nature, consultants have a greater capacity for seeing the forest for the trees. So even in this situation, it is preferable to present a business problem rather than ask for a solution.
At Adviso, our sales team is also officially known as “Strategic Development,” because we are like the consulting version of general practitioners: We bring together the right experts and their solutions using an integrated approach that considers the global business issue. We are consultants, not salespeople, and the majority of our work lies in actively listening to others.
Active listening can sometimes be perceived as overenthusiasm or a barrage of questions, but its goal is to diagnose the cause of the problem in order to solve the underlying issue and create synergy that will generate value for our clients.
So if you feel our team is challenging you a bit when you submit a request, I promise this isn’t arrogance, but simply engagement in your particular context and problems!