Look for Patterns, Not Problems

Most people can see and solve a problem, and certainly an organization can do that. What salespeople should try to discover are the patterns that are associated with the product/service that they provide.  In Henry Cloud’s work,Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, he discusses two types of patterns;

A pattern masquerading as a problem—that is, a problem or a situation that keep happening over and over again is not a problem. It is a pattern.

The repetition of the same work. If there is something that only you can do, at least in the beginning, but then you find that you are doing that same thing over and over again in the same way, and you pretty much have it nailed, it might be time to turn that over to someone else. There is a pattern of work, a repeatable formula, to what you are doing, and that means it is probably transferable.

This seems like a very simplified process, but when we review this from a sales and marketing approach, we can see the implications of it quite vividly.

In the first pattern, a pattern to be known, unless it was a catastrophic failure of some type, has to be repeated over and over again. When problems are being “handled” they often become just a way that we do the work. As the author says, a consequence is needed to break the pattern.  But the author brings up even a more delicate point, the pattern has to have an ending, and that circumstance is seldom if ever addressed in most problem/solution scenarios.

Creating a comfortable transitioning from exiting a problem state to supposedly a solution state may seem obvious to most but along with that is leaving go of the known to the unknown. It is that step, that gap, that needs to be addressed. Probably the most important part of ending is emotional. It is letting go of the current circumstances. It is hard to leave go and presenting only solutions to a problem seldom gain traction. We need to practically build a supporting social structure in the sales process. This is why having others within your social structure such as referrals, advocates, a strong brand is so important.

In the second pattern, repetition is something, especially in today’s world, that can often be automated. Of course, this pattern may be camouflaged by one or two tasks. In this scenario breaking the pattern down or as I would recommend using a tool such as SCAMPER can lead to many selling opportunities.   However, repetition can be seen as easy work for some. The opportunity that exists is to elevate or prioritize other work over this pattern. The preceding paragraph still applies about having a fluid and Necessary Ending to the present pattern.

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