We all have problems and solving them can be the most difficult aspect of life. So when you are in a business where your clients have a problem and you are tasked with solving it, you are taking on a lot of responsibility. That is why they pay you. Identifying problems for your client is making their life easier.
The umbrella of problem solving is quite large, but I am going to narrow it down to two tracks:
- Figuring out the problem
- Figuring out the solution
It might not be easy, but every business has a problem. Hell, even businesses like Apple and Google have shortcomings. Just take a look at the recent launch of the iPhone X and iPhone 8. Apple now faces the problem of releasing a new phone that is significantly less capable than the more expensive version. People that live on the bleeding edge are understandably annoyed. I’m not sure how they’ll go about fixing that problem, but they’re a multi-billion dollar company so they’ll figure it out.
The sum of problem solving is analysis of the procedure. Procedural analysis of what they’re doing and what their shortcomings are. It’s only after this that you can fully cultivate a strategy to overcome some of those things and meet their ideal (but realistic) goals.
The problem is that most people don’t know what their goals are when you work with them. Maybe they have a broad understanding, but they struggle to pinpoint what it is they want accomplished. So identifying problems for these clients is top priority. When you can identify their pain points, you can generally identify their goals.
On the other hand, the opposite can also be true. For example, some people will come to us with the goal of obtaining that coveted number one spot on Google. When you ask them how they plan on doing this, well then things become quite fuzzy. They understand the goal is ranking first, but they have a problem and don’t know how to solve it.
The same thing occurs when an organization wants to improve their web presence by building a website. Most of the time they don’t have any goals for the site and until you can establish what their goals are, you really can’t build something to try to solve problems.
I’m not blaming these hypothetical companies either. It is really difficult to become involved in a landscape that you don’t know much about. When I go to a mechanic I want them to fix my car. I don’t have the slightest clue as to what needs to happen when they fix my car. I just want the end results. It is the professional’s job to help identify the goals associated with the end result.
Identify Your Own Shortcomings:
If you are tasked with figuring out problems for a company – or even a single person – one of the first things you need to do is stay up to date. This sounds pretty basic and you’d think that it is one of the first things people do, but you’d be wrong.To figure out someone else's problems, you have to first identify your own. Click To Tweet
Think about where you were last year (financially, intellectually, etc.). If you are in the same place this year than you probably didn’t make too much progress. If you deal with technology like we do, than this can absolutely kill your business. You wouldn’t go to a personal trainer who follows Richard Simmons, would you? Maybe you would, but it wouldn’t be the best use of your time and energy. Your personal trainer didn’t grow with the business and they will be out of business soon.
If The Content Group refuses to evolve our product and continue to learn new things or adapt to new principles, then we are going to lose our place in this market. It is a balance of staying up on new technologies, figuring out what can really make our lives, and in turn our client’s lives, easier. It is a constant juggling act, but it is one that must be done.
Figuring out the Solution:
Okay. Back to the example from earlier. Oftentimes people don’t know what they are actually after. They know they need a website. This part is true. But why do they need a website? That’s the part that they can’t answer. Most people think, “Oh you build websites. I need a website. Build me a website. I’m a plumber.”
At this point they must also be able to answer something along the lines of:
- How do you bring on new clients?
- What’s your on-boarding process as a plumber to get new clients?
If they don’t have a process then we have a fail there. So then we need to help the plumber develop a process because we need to at least agree on this before we can build a website.
Solutions Start With Questions:
You have to be able to ask questions that will lead you to the problems they’re experiencing. Knowing the right questions will mainly come with trial and error. You’re going to waste a whole lot of time if you are talking about a $5,000 fix to their problem, you sell them on that fix, but they have a target price of $300. There is clearly an issue. Up-selling is one thing, but you have to be able to identify their business as well. Do your research.
This is why asking the right questions from the start can help determine their problems and what they are interested in doing to solve them.Never just agree with your client without asking questions first. Click To Tweet
Some people are so excited to work on a project or are blinded by a budget that when someone says “I want a website,” the professional responds “okay, let’s do it.” That is how people end up in situations where they come to us and say “Oh we had a $30,000 budget but we spent $26,000 with another developer and we don’t have anything to show for it.”
While pointing fingers is easy to do in this situation, and yes the client should also have their own questions, you have to think about your reputation. Do you want to be known as the business that just spent $26,000 of a client’s money and left them with nothing?
Again, ask questions.
You Can’t Build a House Without Blueprints:
Starting anything with a client is just like building a house. From search engine optimization to content marketing and pretty much anything else you can think of there has to be a strategy.
You can’t build something if you don’t have a blueprint of what you’re trying to build. You don’t just start hammering away and expect the house to come along. With everything, you have to have some sort of floor plan. The same thing occurs when putting together a strategy for your services. You need to consider the business landscape.
This, once again, starts with questions. Ask your client what their competitors are doing? If they answer that question then you have a leg up. If not, well, you just identified another problem with their current business model.
Without asking questions you’ll never identify your own problems and if you can’t identify your own problems you will never identify your client’s. Identifying problems is a cyclical process that continues to evolve but also get easier with time.
If you are struggling to help a customer with an issue, take a step back and think about your process. Is there something new out there that maybe you didn’t think of? A new strategy, perhaps. Self-reflecting is worth it if it helps your customers.
Learn. Adapt. Grow.