“Unfortunately,” reflects my friend and admired sales training expert Tim Roberts, “traditional salespeople are tethered to ‘what we know’”. Roberts is well aware that it takes many years of trials and tribulations for a salesperson to develop good problem-solving skills, yet he’s here, he says, to challenge and encourage finding before solving. In fact, finding a problem that your customer hasn’t considered, is what makes a salesperson valuable, he stresses.
There are two required skills needed for an effective inquiry conversation with a prospect, Roberts explains:
Are there lessons here for business owners and professional practitioners “conversing” via their blog with readers? As a Say It For You blog writer and blogging coach, I think so. Last summer I made mention of what Stav Ziv of the Moth storytelling organization had to say about the two elements of successful storytelling:
- there’s no “wall of artistry” or stage curtain between storyteller and audience (transparency)
- storytellers share their own human failures and frailty (vulnerability).
The lesson I drew from Ziv’s description is that true stories about mistakes and struggles are very humanizing, adding to the trust readers place in the people behind the business or practice.
What I think is important for blog writers about Tim Roberts’ “finding-before-solving” concept is that it opens up a whole new content direction both for us as writers and as a conversation starter with readers.
Wait a minute – isn’t answering readers’ questions what blog posts are designed to do? Searchers turn to the Internet because they’re looking for something – a product, a service, or information. When the query relates to what you sell, what you do, and what you know about, those readers find your blog. But, what if your blog post was raising questions and inviting input from readers, rather than offering answers?
Blogs, as I so often stress to business blog writers, are not advertisements or sales pieces (even if increasing sales is the ultimate goal of the business owner). Whatever “selling” goes on in effective blogs is indirect and comes out of business owners sharing their passion, their special expertise and their insights in their field. When blog posts “work”, readers are moved to think, “I want to do business with him!” or “She’s the kind of person I’ve been looking for!”
Finding may well belong before solving, not only in selling, but in blogging for business!