Mary from Magnify shares – I was fortunate enough to attend the Wellington ‘Kiwi Landing Pad’Sales and Marketing Jam, organised by the amazing John Holt and Sian Simpson.

There will be a few Magnify blogs coming out of this event, which was just full of innovative people and ideas.  If you haven’t been, definitely get sorted for the next one!

Today’s blog is inspired by Samantha Wong, Partner at Blackbird VC, who among other things, posed the question – Are you solving ‘hair on fire’ customer problems?

Sam put it this way – If your customer’s hair was on fire, this would be the only thing they could think about.  They wouldn’t be thinking about what to have for dinner, or a relationship break-up, or what colour to paint the kitchen.  The problem of having their hair on fire would just eclipse everything else.

If you gave them a hose, they would use it to put the fire out.  Phew – problem solved!  If you gave them a brick, they would probably try to put the fire out by hitting their head with it.  This is obviously not the best solution to the problem of putting out the fire in their hair – but in their desperation, they would even use an unrefined solution if the problem was urgent enough.

Putting that all into business language, Sam said ‘If they listed their top 3 KPI’s, what do they win or lose their bonus on?’

If your product or service is solving a problem which does not positively impact your customer’s top three KPI’s, then it’s not a ‘Hair on Fire’ problem.  That doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem worth solving – just that your customer won’t have the same level of motivation and drive to purchase a solution to that problem.  Which could affect the saleability of your product or service.

Sam also said that ‘Hair on Fire’ problems must be determined from the perspective of the person who is buying the solution – i.e. from your customer’s perspective, not from your own company’s perspective.

Sales has always been about solving customer problems, not just trotting out a list of features and benefits.  Of course, there are many problems you could be solving.  How do you choose which ones to solve for your customers?

Ask some key questions about your business:
Are you solving ‘Hair on Fire’ problems?
Are you solving problems which have less urgency for the customer?
Are you solving problems at all?
Are you looking for problems that your solution answers?

Go for the ‘Hair on Fire’ problems every time.  Sales will be so much easier when you’re solving real problems that have a real urgency for your customers.
Whether you’ve created a fire hose or a brick (which you’ll keep developing until you get that fire hose!) – you’ll be a super hero to your customers!