Tracking Common Problems: Why to Bother & How to Do It

June 18, 2019
Tracking Common Problems: Why to Bother & How to Do It

At CFS, we often write and talk about tracking common problems you solve for your clients. We reference it as a best practice in blog posts, eBooks, and podcasts.

But you might be wondering why we make such a fuss about tracking the common problems you solve. Why bother?

Here are three reasons you should be tracking common problems – and a simple process to get you started.

Why bother tracking common problems?

1. It helps you refine your message.

Have you ever read the instructions on a pack of Q-tips? They clearly state never to insert a Q-tip into your ear. And yet what do most people do with Q-tips? We use them to clean out our ears!

This is a situation where a product’s message doesn’t really match with the problems the product solves for its users.

Now I’m guessing the warning on Q-tips is a liability issue. But unfortunately, far too many companies have messaging and marketing that’s just as off-track as those Q-tip instructions.

If you don’t understand what problems your products and services solve for your clients, your messaging may be focusing on features and benefits customers don’t really care about.

If, instead, you take the time to track which problems you most often solve for your clients, you can target messaging and marketing to highlight the related features and benefits.

2. It helps you better connect to prospects.

When you know what problems you’ve solved for your clients, you know what problems to look for in other potential clients.

Imagine how your team’s email templates and presentations could benefit from a simple list of the common problems you solve for your clients. Picture your salespeople walking into a prospect’s office and confidently talking about the common problems you’ve solved for similar clients.

Without saying it, when you talk about the common problems you solve, you’re positioning your company as an expert in solving those problems.

One of the best and most simple tools you can develop for your sales team is a list of the common problems you solve. You might find it best to group them by industry or company size so they’re most relevant to each prospect.

Then all each salesperson has to do is bring that list to a meeting (or email it in advance) to focus the conversation on potential problems you can solve for that prospect.

3. It helps drive product development.

Tracking common problems doesn’t just help with sales and marketing. It can actually help you figure out what direction to take with your product and service development!

If you are tracking the problems you most often solve for your clients, you may discover that there are closely related problems you don’t currently have a solution for. Each of those neighboring problems is a potential area for growth.

For example, maybe you sell software that helps companies improve their inventory tracking within warehouses. As you talk to customers, you will probably hear about all the problems they have within their warehouses and with inventory control throughout their business. Your product solves some of those problems, but there’s likely a number of related problems you don’t yet solve.

This gives you three options for moving forward. The first is to do nothing – you can’t solve every problem out there, and some problems aren’t within your areas of expertise.

Second, you might improve your current offering. This could involve improvements in your standard offering or a new premium version with premium pricing to match.

Third, you might develop an entirely new offering. This would provide you the opportunity to upsell existing and former clients as well as to penetrate new markets.

So how do you get started?

I hope I’ve convinced you how important tracking common problems is for marketing, sales, and product development.

So how should you get started tracking the problems you solve?

It’s a bit counter-intuitive, but the best way to start is usually with your features and benefits. Your team likely knows those and is more conversant about features and benefits than problems. That’s because we’re socialized to focus more on positive solutions than negative problems.

All you need to do to figure out the problem is to consider the opposite of the benefit.

In the inventory software example above, perhaps one benefit is to instantly know where every item is within the warehouse. The problem that solves is not knowing where products are within the warehouse. See how easy that is?

Once you’ve developed your list, winnow it down. Which of the problems are most significant and experienced by most of your clients?

That’s it! Now you know why you should be tracking common problems and how to get started.

For a deeper dive into the mechanics of tracking common problems, check out our eBook on how to sell anything to anyone. It’s based on problem-solving.

eBook: How to Sell Anything to Anyone - A Problem-Solving Guide for Sales Managers, Sales Leaders, & Salespeople

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