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Urgent VS Important in Sales

Clients will not offer you good jobs unless they already think they are in deep trouble. That’s fine. The problem is, that what they perceive as the urgent reason to hire you is just a symptom of a larger, important underlying problem that needs to be solved for the symptom to go away.

This is why asking them “what’s wrong” is rarely enough for an actionable diagnosis. As Dr. House says “I don’t ask why patients lie, I just assume they all do.”

And people

Here’s how I tell the important problem apart from the urgent symptom.

1) Ask “why” with the tenacity of a kid: at least 5 times recursively, until we get to the root problem.  Symptom: “I always have to discount.- Why? “Because customers think my prices are too high.”- Why? “Because they don’t see the value in what I offer.”- Why? “Because I’m not highlighting unique benefits or differentiators.”  Root Problem: Poor communication of value.

2) Look for patterns like a compulsive puzzle enthusiast: symptoms are usually isolated incidents, while problems repeat in predictable patterns.

3) Try to predict consequences like an old-timely oracle: if a solution only fixes the issue temporarily, it is probably addressing the symptom. Solving underlying problems usually has a lasting impact.

The trouble is that clients say they want the urgent, easier-to-spot symptom solved. But if you only solve that, they won’t come back for more.

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