The other day, our oldest daughter headed out to sing at a gospel event. A few minutes later, the phone rang. She’d gotten just a mile and a half down the road. Now she was stuck on the side of the road with a flat tire and not a lot of time to spare.
Have you ever gotten a flat tire? If you have you know the frustration that a flat tire can create.
So what’s on the top of your mind that your tire goes flat? Yeah, you want that tire fixed. But why? Because you need to get somewhere? Because if you don’t get somewhere you might miss out on something? Maybe you’ll miss an important business meeting. Maybe you’ll be at work late one too many times and lose your job.
What is Behind External Problems
I want you to consider what’s behind every external problem people have–like a flat tire–because it can help you avoid losing business. Behind every external problem are deeper emotional issues at play. Let’s explore those and see how you might be able to make your business more valuable to people.
Most people make their purchasing decisions based on emotions and justify those purchasing decisions with tangible facts. Granted when you get a flat tire you’re probably not going to evaluate for long who you will hire to fix your tire. And you may have roadside service so you have already made that decision ahead of time.
However, the frustration of a flat tire is because there are deeper issues involved. This is true of virtually all purchasing decisions. Whether we’re purchasing food, daycare, life insurance, coaching services, financial services or a lawyer. Each purchasing decision has an emotional component we usually don’t notice.
Yes, we want the immediate problem solved. However, the immediate problem creates deeper issues. Let’s peel back the layers a little and see what might lie behind your customer’s external problems.
What Problem do You Solve
What is the primary problem that your product or service helps people overcome? Then think about the feelings behind that. What feelings are you helping people avoid or achieve?
If you haven’t thought about this before, it may not be as easy as you’d like. So let’s explore this a little more so you can better understand how you might be able to add more value to your customers or clients.
3 Levels of Problems
The problem or problems that your products or services are solving for people usually involves three levels. These three levels are; external problems, internal problems, and fundamental problems.
Here’s how it works. Your customer has a problem that is external, like the flat tire. The external problem causes the person to experience internal frustration. The internal frustration in our flat tire example could be being late to work. The philosophical problem could be me feeling that I spent good money on new tires that should get me where I need to go.
Let’s consider an example that will cover all three of these problems. Take a homeowner with a leaky roof. The leaky roof is an external problem. The leaky roof causes the internal problem which is a fear of greater damage if they don’t get the roof fixed. The philosophical problem could be the homeowner feeling she shouldn’t have to live in a house with a roof that leaks.
The challenge is that most businesses are trying to sell a solution to the external problem. But customers actually really want a solution to the internal problem. Your customer likely won’t say out loud that they’re trying to solve the internal problem, but unconsciously that’s exactly what they want to be solved.
People aren’t purchasing from you to only solve the external problem because what they really want to solve is that internal problem or frustration. When you identify that internal problem, put it into words and offer a solution to the internal problem that also solves the external problem, you have a winner.
If you sell the solution to the internal problem, you will be creating more value for your customers. They will connect more deeply with your company and feel that you serve them better. This creates a situation where your customers are likely to be much more loyal repeat customers.
And while selling to the internal problem is much better than focusing on the external problem, let’s explore solving the fundamental-belief problem that your customers or clients are dealing with? Getting to the fundamental-belief problem actually gets you to the heart of the matter.
Let’s consider a few more examples to help illustrate both the external, internal and fundamental-belief problems. Remember a lot of businesses only address the external problem. Think about the different advertisements you’ve seen. Were they addressing the internal, external or fundamental-belief problem? What if you could address all three?
Consider a single parent. Their external problem is having to parent children alone. Their internal problem is that they are afraid they will be a poor parent. The fundamental-belief problem could be that they believe they shouldn’t have to parent alone.
Here’s an example of a phrase that addresses only the external problem.
We offer life coaching to single parents.
Here’s a phrase that a life coach could use to address the internal problem.
We offer coaching for single moms that provide support and tools so the fear of parenting melts away.
The following phrase addresses all three levels the external, internal and fundamental-belief problem. See if you can feel the difference.
You shouldn’t have to parent alone. We offer coaching for single moms to provide support and tools so the fear of parenting melts away.
If you believe deeply that you shouldn’t have to parent alone and you read that phrase, you shouldn’t have to parent alone it, means something to you. If you’re a single mom and you read that they offer coaching for single moms that mean something to you. When they say that they offer tools and support that helps the fear of parenting alone melt away that means something. Addressing all three problems will connect with a person that has each of those problems.
When that person finds that business, they will feel like they are understood. They will feel like they’re going to get the help and support they need so they don’t have to be afraid of parenting alone. If they’re browsing your website, then they won’t hit the back button. They want to know what they can do next to get the relief they want because you said you can provide that.
Can you feel the difference?
Revisiting the Leaky Roof Example
Let’s come back to our example of the leaky roof from above. Let’s look at phrases that address each of the problems.
Here’s a phrase that addresses the external problem.
We have 25 years experience fixing leaky roofs.
Here’s a phrase that can address the internal problem.
We fix leaking roofs fast before they cause more damage.
Here’s a phrase that can address the fundamental-belief problem.
We fix leaking roofs because you shouldn’t have to live with the frustration caused by constant dripping.
Now let’s combine all three problems into one phrase.
You shouldn’t have to live with the frustration of a leaky roof. We’ll fix your roof fast before that leak creates more damage.
Can you see how that phrase addresses all three of the problems?
It addresses leaky roofs, preventing more damage, and that you shouldn’t have to live like this. The bottom line the phrase declares that you can address all three problems and resolve them.
Put the 3 Problems to Work for Your Business
You can take a little bit of time and figure out the deeper reasons why people purchase from you. If you do this you’ll be much more likely to connect with people. When you address not only the external problem but also the internal and fundamental-belief problem, you made it much easier for them to choose you to provide the solution they need.
If you don’t take the time to think about the deeper reasons for people wanting your solution, what might you lose? How many customers might go somewhere else? How would that affect your bottom line?
Wrapping it Up
Don’t miss out on being able to better connect with your customers. Take some time in the next 24 hours to think about what the external, internal and fundamental-belief problems your customers or clients have. Then put it into words that you can use on your website and other marketing material. It will make for a better brand because it connects with people better.
And, just in case you’re wondering what happened when my daughter made that call to me about her flat tire, I drove our Suburban out to where she was with better tire-changing equipment, traded vehicles with her, and changed the tire so I could drive that car back home, while she went to her concert. She made it in time. And she realized it’s kinda handy having dad just a few minutes down the road!
P.S. While she was there three people stopped to see if they could help her. It’s nice to see people still want to help.