Dispatches from the Field

People Don’t Buy Products. They Buy Solutions to Their Problems

People Don’t Buy Products. They Buy Solutions to Their Problems

It bears repeating… people do NOT buy products.

Of course, people do buy products or services. But that’s not really what motivates them to part with their money.

So, promoting a product or a service saying how great the product’s features are, how advanced your technology is, or how great your company is…. will NOT sell that product or service.

Because… people don’t buy products.

This is what they do buy:

  • They buy a SOLUTION to their PROBLEM.
  • They buy the OUTCOME they really desire.

They are ultimately buying a TRANSFORMATION they want in their lives.

And this is true whether you’re selling a pair of glasses, web-based software, or financial planning services.

So it stands to reason:

Without knowing what PROBLEM your Ideal Customer is trying to solve, you can’t possibly position your product/service as the SOLUTION to his/her problem.

And if you don’t know what the SUCCESS they’re trying to achieve looks like, you can’t possibly show them your product/service will lead them there, to the OUTCOME they really want.

Successful businesses solve problems.

So, before you can properly plan your sales strategy, you need to determine two important things:

  1. What is your ideal Customer’s PROBLEM? – What’s the thing that’s keeping them up at night?
  2. What does their desired OUTCOME look like? – For them, what’s the VISION of success they have when they find the solution? What does success look like?

These two questions – what’s the customer’s problem, what’s their desired outcome, allow you to position your product as the SOLUTION.

What’s the Problem?

Here’s a vital thing to understand: Problems actually exist at 2 levels.

1. The Outward Problem

This is the obvious problem. It’s usually easy to spot.

And that’s great. It’s important to know what the OUTWARD or external problem is for the customer.

However, most marketers stop there. But it’s often not this outward problem that people are actually wanting to solve.

2. How it makes them feel?

The REAL QUESTION is: How does this outward problem make them feel?

What emotions does it create?

It’s said that people actually buy on emotion – how they feel – and only after they’ve made the purchase do they try to justify the purchase with logic. (See Simon Sinek’s talk, How great leaders inspire action for more on the psychology of this process.)

Put another way – their desire to fix the emotional problem is far greater than their desire to solve the outward obvious problem, even if it’s justified later with rational decision making. So, if you can figure out both the outward problem and their inner feelings and emotions about it, you can speak to both of these throughout your entire marketing process.


As an example, let’s take a Dental practice, and let’s call their Ideal Customer Tom.

Tom’s Outward Problem: Tom wants to fix his crooked and discolored teeth.

How does Tom’s problem make him feel? – Tom doesn’t want to smile, he feels unattractive, he’s deeply embarrassed and he feels a lack of self-confidence.

The Desired Outcome

Now let’s look at the success the customer wants, the transformation he desires, the OUTCOME he’s looking for. If you can’t define that, you can’t show your prospects what that outcome will look like and you can’t position your company as the solution.

It’s important here to focus on the benefits and not the features or services you offer.

For our Dentist example, to address Tom’s problem, their unique value proposition that addresses how Tom feels could be:

“Creating Perfect, Confident Smiles Since 1984”

“Your unique value proposition (UVP) is a clear statement that describes the benefit of your offer, how you solve your customer’s needs and what distinguishes you from the competition. Your unique value proposition should appear prominently on your landing page and in every marketing campaign.”

In addition, it’s always a good idea to provide imagery that shows the desired outcome. In this case, smiling, confident people with beautiful smiles. Use images that show people who have already achieved the outcome – people who have successfully solved their problem.

  • Do you need help identifying your Ideal Client’s central problem and how it makes them feel?
  • Do you need help developing your unique value proposition?
  • Do you need help developing marketing tools to show how your product or service can solve your Ideal Client’s problem and deliver his/her desired outcome?

We are here to help. Contact us today to get started.

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