“Discussing problems and solutions doesn’t position you as an expert…”
In the coaching and training business, it’s understood that we’re not selling information, but transformation.
And since no one pays to have a crappier life, we’re almost always selling upward, forward progress. So it comes as no surprise that – as experts – we’re taught to:
“Discuss their pains, then show ‘em a way out.”
Creating a Bridge Isn’t Enough
Odds are you’ve heard this advice before. And on the surface level, it’s correct.
If all we do is banter on about how amazing life will be after someone buys our program, it looks like we’re disconnected and pushing a bunch of hype. And if all our content is focused on their problems, we look like a negative Nancy.
So, we’re taught to bridge the two.
Some call it showing our prospects the “path from Hell to Heaven.” Others refer to it as “showing them how to get from where they are, to where they want to be.”
Sadly, this is what everyone does. It’s surface level, and fails to achieve the one thing most coaches and trainers would benefit from in their quest to sell more: Expert Positioning.
Drug Dealing Doctors
Imagine showing up at the doctor’s office with what you believe is an ulcer. And imagine that doctor asking you a string of endless questions:
“Does it hurt? Does it really hurt? Do you wish the pain would go away? Wouldn’t life be better if there was no pain? Geez, I bet that throbbing is terrible. Must suck not being able to drink apple blueberry Kombucha anymore.
Well, anyways, sounds like an ulcer. Here’s a prescription. If you take one every eight hours, you should be fine a week from now.”
How would you feel walking away from that interaction?
Not so good right. In fact, aside from being confused, you’d probably walk away thinking that doctor has no idea what he’s doing, and might not even be qualified to be a legitimate doctor.
How Experts Discuss Problems
Now, imagine you go to get a second opinion.
And after a couple minutes of discussing the surface level issues of your pain, the doctor starts to ask these kinds of questions:
“Ok, and does your stomach feel fine at night, but hurt when you wake up in the morning. Yep. And let me guess, you’re fine eating vegetables and carbohydrates, but anything acidic makes it flare up? Ok.
Well, based on everything you’ve told me, it does sound like you have an ulcer. Seen it a million times. No soda, alcohol, or fried food for the next four weeks. Take this pill once a day for the next seven days, then come back for a checkup.”
Symptoms > Problems
As you can see above, the interaction with doctor #2 went much better than the first.
On the surface, both had the outward appearances of being a high-status expert (doctor’s office and white coat). They both arrived at the same diagnosis. And they both ‘bridged the gap’ by offering a treatment plan that would allow the patient to escape the pain they’re in.
However, by accurately discussing the patient’s symptoms, doctor #2 positioned himself as the expert authority on all things ulcer pain.
Why Focusing On Symptoms Sells
In fact, by hitting just a few of the patient’s symptoms right on the head, the doctor immediately conveyed that he:
- Understood the pain and suffering the patient must be going through (empathy, which creates bonding)
- Knew more about the problem than the patient did (authority)
- Would likely have a solution given he knows so much about the problem (expert positioning)
This is nothing new. In sales and persuasion, it’s said that:
“When you can explain your prospect’s problems better than they can themselves, they’ll automatically assume you have the solution.”
Which is exactly what doctor #2 achieved; no arm twisting, mind games, or manipulative persuasion required.
Experts Discuss Symptoms
Sadly, many experts believe the key to converting more prospects is to beat them over the head with more content.
“Suffering from pain? Do this. Not getting enough leads? Try ______. Husband love your dog more than you? Perfect, I have just the solution.”
And while this type of marketing might work to keep your name “Top of Mind,” it doesn’t position you as an Expert Authority. More important, constantly bridging the gap fails to create the “Know, Like, and Trust” reaction.
Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: When creating marketing materials, quickly transition from discussing your prospect’s problems, to discussing the symptoms of their problems.
Doing this doesn’t require an expensive copywriter, and it doesn’t require that your content be any longer than usual.
Instead, it demands we take the time to walk a mile in our prospect’s shoes, communicate that we understand their pain, and then (and only then) offer the solution.