Have you ever had a prospective customer come to you with a specific solution already in mind? Perhaps they’ve looked at your company’s website, determined the products they need, and now want to vet you along with the competition.

While the customer understands their own situation better than you, they’re not an expert on your suite of products and services. You are. And you’re an expert on how customers like them can benefit from your offerings.

Your job is to fill a consultative role where you combine your expertise with theirs and  collaborate to identify the best solution for their specific needs.

When a customer comes to you with a solution, the first step is to listen. You can’t begin to redirect the conversation until you’ve gained their trust by accepting the information they’re bringing you.

The second step to bring the conversation to a bigger-picture view, is to ask these three questions:

  • Why is it important to solve this problem?
  • How does this fit into your larger strategy?
  • What are your ultimate outcomes?

There are plenty more questions to ask but these three will help to get your started to move away from their proposed solution and begin to have a conversation about their needs.

The goal of the conversation is to broaden the customer’s perspective beyond their initial idea and identify additional opportunities for your company to bring them value.

Don’t be surprised if the customer doesn’t yet have a clear answer to these questions—they may not have been able to take the time to clarify their needs. You can bring them immediate value by guiding them through this conversation.

When a customer comes to you with a solution in mind, be prepared to listen to the solution. Then ask questions that drive to the broader context and need. Your customer will find this conversation valuable and it’s also a way to identify additional opportunities for your products and services to bring them value.

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