As a b2b sales person, one of your greatest assets is the ability to solve problems for both you and your company AND the customers big problems they have shared with you.
The ability to be creative and find a solution is a trait heavily admired by customers. This trait also moves you up above the commodity seller and to the ranks of the problem solver. This is a much better level to be recognized by the customer – it gets you more solid opportunities to make sales.
Being able to solve a big problem is a valued trait for anyone, especially sales people. So, today, I’m sharing a seven step method I have used and shared with others to improve their problem solving abilities. If you follow the steps you will solve any problem you run into. In fact, the more often you use, the better you will get at solving problems.
So, here are the seven steps to problem solving…
- Define the Problem
This means write it down and study it. Sometimes this first step is all you need to realize the solution was there all the time. By writing it down, you gain a clarity you did not have before.
- Gather information
This is obvious. If you are to solve a problem, you need information and data points regarding the level of the problem – and things like cause and effect come in very handy to solving the problem.
- Set a Goal or Time line for Solving the Problem
Deadlines give a sense of urgency to the problem solving process. Without a true time line, other things get in the way of moving the process forward. Having a deadline gives you a project time line you will need to work under – improving your attention to details and looking for alternatives.
- Search for Solutions
Never stop with the first alternative or solution. The rule of thumb is to challenge yourself to find at a minimum three ways to solve the problem. This insures you will use all your creative powers to find all the possible choices to pick from for solving the problem.
- Choose a Solution
After securing as many choices as possible, it is now time to pick what you feel is the best solution for the situation or problem. You have analyzed all the possible solutions, trust yourself to pick the right one to implement.
- Implement the Solution
Begin the process of solving the problem with a selection of alternatives you feel will be the best solution. Have a game play for implementation – being certain you have buy in from others who will be involved in the implementation. In some cases, your solution will be in the form of a presentation to a customer or someone inside your company. Be sure to show the benefits of your solution including things like safety and seamless integration so they will be inclined to agree.
- Evaluate the Results
In order to be certain you have selected a good to great solution, test the results. Did it deliver within the time frame necessary. Did you generate a ROI or pay back period that was expected by others. And, most important – did it meet your standards of performance. If it did all the above, then record the details as a success story. Will there be similar situations with other customers? Can you easily adapt the majority of the solution process for other closely related situations?
This is a simple seven step method, yet, it works more often than not. One of the important keys to your success with this model is your believe that you can solve any problem. If you don’t believe you have the problem solving ability – well, you will not be able to solve any problem – it is called a self fulfilling prophecy .
Work on yourself first and then work on the problems, it will be much easier to find the solutions.