It was Friday afternoon. It was sunny. And I was just walking out of a meeting with a prospect with a big smile on my face. The prospect I just met had shared with me all her problems. It was all there in my notes. It was covering all these important business problems. She didn’t have the analytics on her marketing effort. Her company was selling online but she wasn’t clear what was the products that had the best ratio between visits and actual transactions. And many other very specific marketing analytics problems. And I knew how to solve all these issues with a great piece of tech I was selling. That weekend was to be a good one as I felt I was on my way to secure the deal.


Only to realise later I simply didn’t…

Why? Why did I not get this deal. I did know her problems and had a way to sort them out. That’s what it’s all about right?

I since realised there are two types of problems. Firstly, those expressed by a prospect. They tend to be related to business KPIs… And then, those not expressed. In short, the impact that these problems have on the prospects. These problems are the ones we talk about in the pub with our friends. And I am now pretty sure that when this prospect was in a pub with her friends, she was not talking about “analytic platforms” or “product ratios”. She was talking about the impact these problems had on her life and was using down to earth, layman terms, not the jargon that we sometimes (often?) used when we talk to prospects or colleagues.

Why did I not get the deal. Well, I didn’t understand what it meant for my prospect “not to have the analytics or not being clear on what product had poor ratio”. I never asked her but a possible list of these not expressed problems could have been:

  • She had to spend 5 hours digging in the company’s analytic platform to find the data
  • She had to train and re-train junior people to find out the data and she was annoyed when a junior person was leaving the department
  • She had to spend Sunday afternoons putting decks to present to her boss rather than enjoying down time with her family
  • She was getting a lot of negative comments from her boss who needed to increase sales of the best products and feared for her due promotion
  • Etc, etc….

So, what is the way to find out all these problems. Well, again, questions, questions, questions. One question I like to ask is: “So, how does it affect you, personally?” People might stick again to a business answer so I have to elaborate with personal answers I did get with other clients: “Some of our existing clients, before using our services, were spending a large amount of time, usually Sunday afternoon, putting the figures together so that they could report them on Monday morning. Do you find this to be the case in your situation?”

These personal problems are gold dust. They are often the ones that really matter to a buyer. “Getting my Sunday afternoon back to chill out with my partner/kids” or “sailing through to my well deserved promotion” is, in my book, a far more powerful driver than “Displaying analytics on product sold”.

So, what are the problems of your clients. Are they full of buzzwords or more down to earth ones?