In almost any situation, it’s difficult to get to the root of any [_________] (Fill in the blank with the word you or anyone on your team typically uses: issue, problem, pain, challenge, etc.). Getting to the root of your [_________] is a skill you can learn. It requires persistence, objectivity and, most importantly, being unafraid to ask the hard questions.
In particular, open-ended empathetic questions followed by a pause on your part. This is usually a deep-thinking exercise. Persuasion and assertion of one's personal agenda is a quick way to stay in the leaves and never solve any future [issues] that may stem from the current issues at hand.
Several years ago, I was in a CEO group and one of the members was presenting a(n) [issue] they were having with their bookkeeper. The [issue] was that they felt that the bookkeeper was stealing. They presented all the evidence to what could be a very serious [problem]. The group spent a lot of time asking relevant questions attempting to get to the root of the [problem]. For example, was there a sudden debt situation with this employee, were they living beyond their means, what kind of access did they have to accounts, reviewed the money handling process and so on.
When I say relevant questions, I mean that the questions were pointed to the [problem] we were discussing not curiosity questions that would distract us from what we thought was a root cause. Fortunately, there were folks in the room with this experience and the questions were spot on for this specific kind of business [problem].
The presenter was angry at first, but emotions soon turned to fear and anxiety. Our questions took a different turn the deeper we dug into this [pain]. We later learned that this is not the first bookkeeper they had this [issue] with. We discovered the root issue was not the alleged theft, but something else. They had a hard time trusting anyone with money due to some earlier experiences in his business and life. Now that’s a breakthrough!
The issue of the alleged theft was a leaf on the [issue] tree. The anger and fear was a branch, the issue with trust was the trunk, but guess what was at the root of the [issue]? Relationship with money.
I think of this story as I am working with a prospect to develop recommendations, or working with a client in identifying the source of their pain or, as you can imagine, working with someone in a mentoring situation. The voice in my head in these situations is like the quarterback to wide receiver, “Go Deep!”
With this story in mind and the application to any [concern] you have in your business right now, what is the root cause? If we had recommended a forensic accountant to our friend and not counseling or self-help, would the root [problem] have ever been resolved? No. To this day, when I run into this person, they express their thanks – their business is thriving.
Enter business development and client (or customer) service. I like to break it down this way: businesses have problems and people have pains. Your pain has a direct relation to whatever problems the business is facing. In my book, ROE Powers ROI: Ultimate Way to Think and Communicate for Ridiculous Results, I reference the Adizes Curve. Dr. Adizes suggests that every business follows a similar growth pattern to that of humans: birth (startup), infancy, adolescence, adult, premature aging, and death. The business is going to experience different problems along the way that are commonly referred to as ‘growing pains’.
Here are some examples of business problems and the ones we’ve identified as an agency we are prepared to solve. The might solve and cannot solve are considerations, but it’s best if it’s not the core challenge and not negatively impacting what we can solve. Identifying a single business problem is easier than prioritizing which problem needs to be addressed first. Can you identify the common business problems the people in your business are qualified to solve?
It’s well known that people make decisions emotionally, but they will justify their decisions with facts. Are the emotions coming from a buyer persona pain, a business problem or both? The root [issue] you are solving for must first be traced back to the business problem before any persona pain can be addressed. If you solve a business problem, you deliver much more value than if you are only reacting to the constant pain-train. However, if you can address the problem, a lot of the pains will take care of themselves. Therefore, problems are a cause and the pains are the effects. And guess what? There are 30 common business problems listed above, and c-o-u-n-t-l-e-s-s pains.
As is best practice in any inbound or ABM program and in any well thought out content strategy, buyer persona pains are the cornerstone. This is not semantics. If you want to become a trusted business advisor and add true business value to your clients (customers), get very good at solving the problems you are qualified to solve. And most importantly, reserve your right to say no if it is a problem the experts in your company cannot solve.
Inbound is sometimes referred to as lead-based marketing or addressing the lead’s pains (buyer persona pains). An account-based marketing audience is not a single person but a decision-making group. If you can first identify the business problem, and connect that problem to the individual pain it is causing in a group, and you can solve for it; you have become a true business advisor delivering true business value.
To learn more about our culture of open communication at Mojo Media Labs, visit our culture page, or for information about how account-based marketing can help your business, visit our marketing services page.