“What’s the problem?”

by Kai Davis | Last Updated: August 25, 2020
“What’s the problem?”

Today, I hung a print in my living room. An hour later, I moved it to a different wall. Now I had a pair of holes to patch in the sheetrock.

No big deal. That’s what Home Depot and the local Oregon equivalent of a Home Depot are for. I bought in a paint sample, and while they mixed up a color-matched quart, I went to find a paintbrush.

I don’t know a lot about paintbrushes (and there are a lot of paintbrushes), so I asked a department clerk for some help. In fifteen minutes, I learned more about paintbrushes than I imagined there was to know:

It was amazingly educational. That’s not even half of the paintbrush tips that I learned. (This might not be coming across in text, but I sincerely mean that this clerk wowed me. They were a helpful fountain of information, kind, and polite. They educated me about the range of choices I had when it came to brushes — so many options!)

But.

(You know this was coming, dear reader.)

Twelve minutes into our conversation they ask, “So what are you painting?”

I share that I have a pair of screw holes in drywall in a living room. I’ve got the paint, I’ve got the joint compound, and I’ve got the texture. All I need is a simple brush.

And the clerk starts telling me about more different options I have, how to soak the paintbrush if I’m using latex paint vs. water-based paint vs. oil paint, how brush size impacts the paint job and how I don’t want too narrow or too wide of a brush…


I eventually got my pain brush — and got my wall all fixed up. And along the way, I re-learned an essential lesson about sales.

Sometimes when a lead approaches you looking for help, they might have a specific job in mind that they need help with:

When it comes to best helping, it’s sometimes valuable to give a deep dive into the range of options available to them (and the various features and benefits of each).

And sometimes it’s important to ask:

What’s the problem?

and

How can I help?

and

What outcome are you looking for?

And then decide if you need to gather more information or you know enough to share a specific recommendation so they can get the job done and move on to the next thing.

By the way, if you’re looking to gather more information from your leads and prospects in sales calls, you’ll want to start using an Initial Call Script. Stop guessing at what to ask and start using the lines that professional consultants use to lead the conversation and uncover what you need to know from the client. https://kaidavis.com/products/initial-call-script/

Excelsior!

Kai

Would you like to get a daily tip about consulting?

Sign up for Kai's Daily Consulting Letters to get a daily letter about marketing yourself as an indie consultant (or firm). Every day, you'll get a from me letter on how to get more clients and market yourself as an authority.

Each letter is something you can use to improve your business and:

  • Get more leads
  • Make more sales
  • Optimize your marketing
  • Tackle advanced consulting challenges

โ€ฆ plus, plenty of resources, guidance, and stories.

As a bonus, you'll get free access to my Premium Resource Center.

Join 8,200+ other consultants and sign up before the next tip is sent.

Get the next article in your inbox

No tricks, no hype, and no spam. Unsubscribe at any time.
BFCM Deals are live! (Save $50 - 200+ on a selection of my courses, products, and services)
This is default text for notification bar