How to sell a solution when your clients don’t know they have a problem

A couple of years ago, I received a bunch of junk mail in my mailbox and just about threw some of it out when a bold headline told me that I could save money by buying a new (more efficient) furnace. Until that point, I was happy with my furnace because it heated my house adequately. But when the letter showed up in the mail, I suddenly realized that I had a problem I didn’t even know about (inefficient heating). I ended up buying a new furnace because of that letter.

As a financial or real estate professional, you offer solutions to a variety of problems. Unfortunately, your prospective clients don’t always know that they have a problem until you point it out to them. The challenging part is to point out the problem in a way that highlights the pain… not necessarily the problem itself.

If I received a letter in the mail that told me I had an inefficient furnace, I would have discarded the letter along with all of my other mail. Furnace efficiency is the problem but I didn’t care about it and I would have no way of knowing whether or not I had an efficient furnace. But the letter didn’t focus on the problem, it focused on the pain. My wallet. It told me that an inefficient furnace was costing me money and I could spend less each month by buying a new furnace. The next step was to have a salesperson come by my house and help me calculate how much I would save. I was skeptical about this step but I have to admit, the numbers were very real and quite compelling… and that’s what convinced me to buy a new furnace.


First, know who your target market is. (“Everyone” is NOT your target market). Rather, your target market is a specific group of people. Use my 55 Target Market Questions to help you figure out who your target market is and what they are like. Once you know who they are, you can market to them more effectively. Note: It’s possible to have a few target markets. That’s okay… but you do need to define each one and fill out the 55 questions for each of those markets.

Second, know what problem you solve for your target market. I call it “the pickaxe factor” of your business. A few examples: Investment professionals provide the expertise to help someone build their wealth more than they could do on their own; Insurance professionals provide a way for people to preserve their wealth and minimize the impact of dramatic life events; Real estate professionals help people find the perfect home by navigating the overwhelming number of houses on the market and the complicated sale process.

Third, figure out where your target market experiences the pain of their problem. Do they notice it in their wallet? In their enjoyment of life? Do they lose sleep over it? Will their children suffer because of it? The possibilities are wide open (although for financial and real estate professionals, they tend to be focused on just a few similar factors… mostly wealth, peace of mind, opportunity, comfort-preservation… but there are others). If you have more than one target market, you need to figure out where each target market feels the pain.

Fourth, highlight that pain. In all of your marketing and communication with your target market, highlight the pain they feel in a compelling way.

[Image credit: AprilBell]

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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