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Edition 205 – Solutions Not Options!

Some time ago, I was talking with one of my great clients who lamented a situation he found himself in. He was talking with a supposed expert about an issue and was looking to have a question answered. Instead, all my client was offered was options, not solutions.

As we continued to flesh out the contents of the conversation, two things became very clear to me:

  1. He had not been asked “why” often enough in the conversation; and
  2. The other party in the conversation was too busy satisfying their own ego by telling my client how much they knew, rather than only what my client needed to know.

Every family business is in the business of providing a product or service to a customer. That product or service is as a result of satisfying:

  1. A need;
  2. A want; or,
  3. Both.

For their customer.

A very useful tool I’ve adopted for some time is the “5 Whys”. Essentially, when someone presents a problem to you in your capacity as the expert in your field, your task is to ask “why?” When that answer is followed up, you ask “why?” Again, then follow the process until you’ve asked the 5th “Why?” By this stage, you’ve usually drilled down on the root cause of the issue, not the superficial layer above it.

By continually asking “why”, you are asking your client or customer to think deeply about their issue, so that you can ultimately offer the solution they truly need, not something that is a band-aid solution.

There are plenty of experts in a wide range of fields that don’t go through this process with their clients or customers. As a result, they’re not taking the time to truly understand the client’s circumstances, which means they either:

  1. Diagnose the wrong problem; or,
  2. Prescribe the wrong solution;

Drilling down and asking “why” 5 times helps you to help your client. It helps your client to improve their situation. It then helps you and your business as you are seen as the expert that is looking to help your clients, not merely sell to them.

If you’re helping your client, you’re building a deeper, long term relationship, which is financially beneficial for all parties. If you’re selling to your client, you’re looking at it as a transaction. Is your family business relationship based, or transaction based?

“Next time you’re with a client and they present a problem to you, ask “why” 5 times and see how it changes your thinking, your answer and their level of delight at how you’ve helped them.”