Obvious Need vs. Real Problem: Can You Find the Difference?

How do you fight commoditization?

B2B selling is now rife with sameness, despite your belief that your products or services are unique.

Practically every company I meet makes this dangerous assumption.

From the buyer’s standpoint, one online search can produce the measure of knowledge he or she may need to make a preliminary decision on a product or service. They also require fewer interactions with salespeople to develop their short list of preferred vendors.

The free flow of information creates an intensely competitive market, driving companies to compete more on price, instead of differentiated value.

We all agree, it’s a new day in B2B sales. By the time prospects engage in a conversation with sales reps, they have already formed their vision for a solution and they want to spend their time negotiating the best price.

To this point, CSO Insights claims in an HBR article that:  “Our customers are coming to the table armed to the teeth with a deep understanding of their problem and a well-scoped RFP for a solution. It’s turning many of our sales organizations into (simply) fulfillment conversations.

In my eLearning modules, I walk you through a case study with Robert, a salesman in the retirement advisory business, invited into a prospect organization to present his firm’s capabilities because the prospect planned to change advisors.

Too many sales opportunities enter a vicious cycle of commoditized solutions in the buyer’s eyes. How can sellers stand out from the crowd? How can they bring differentiation to purchases seen as commonplace?

If you are viewed as just another organization on an RFP list used for a price-comparison bake-off, you’re dead. I know I hammer this home constantly, but it demands repetition:

B2B sellers must create and deliver high-value messaging, backed by a well-researched approach that brings perspective and insight to your prospect opportunities.

Underpin your strategy with a clear understanding the buyer’s persona—wants, needs, behavioral patterns, pain points. Discover well-timed triggering events to create the entrée point into the prospect organization. Move past simply addressing the unmet needs of your prospect.

If you hope to differentiate your offer, help the prospect understand his undiscovered and unconsidered needs. This difficult but essential tactic pulls you out of the commodity box.

Find the Undiscovered Need

By uncovering undiscovered needs, salespeople can position themselves as bringing insight and thought leadership to the buy-sell engagement. Use an effective questioning technique. Focus on needs the prospect has yet to consider or be aware of. At the onset of questioning, of course, you won’t have made your own discovery, until you drill down on more and more revelatory questions.

Once you’ve dug deep, you can offer alternative perspectives to your buyer’s thinking, and even present a solution your competitors overlooked. It is your path to trusted advisor.

If your solution fails to offer a distinctively different and higher-value approach to solving the prospect’s identified problem, compared to other options under consideration, act fast or lose fast. Hold yourself accountable to this principle.

The Path to Trusted Advisor

Remember, if the prospect already sees his problem, and all you do is fill the need with a solution he already knows, he will not view you as a trusted advisor who delivers measurable value.

A trusted advisor brings valued perspective and uncovers those issues that put the prospect’s business at risk. Then, he works collaboratively with the prospect to create the ideal, often unexpected, solution.

For some extra learning impact, watch the video below as I explain how perspective and value work. Notice the chart, which may help you visualize the true path to trusted advisor status.

In the spirit of finding undiscovered needs, click on the link below to take advantage of all 12 informative training modules on how to master B2B complex sales. You’re in for an eye-opening experience that will challenge everything you thought you knew about selling in the business-to-business space.

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Best of all, I offer my special clients and blog followers a limited-time, super discount of $200 when you use the code 200off to register.

And it’s all risk-free. If for any reason, you are not 100 percent pleased with learning how to become a trusted advisor, I will refund your investment.  Happy learning.

See you on the upside,


For more information, go to www.pleinairestrategies.com
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

News Alert

MERGE 2.0, read my latest book, now released by the publisher and available on Amazon to purchase.  Learn everything you need to know to book revenue in the new realities of B2B professional selling.

And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

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New online training course, B2B Complex Sales Success Course for the MERGE 2.0 sales process is now available! Learn more