Right FIT #322 – This week: Conversations, Solutions, Top-shelf

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you grow your business in less time with less effort. . . sometime next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • Communicating with strangers is hard and it’s due to what linguists call our common underlying proficiency. Fancy for our shared thoughts, experiences, definitions and more. To help, use agendas whenever possible.
  • What makes game shows challenging for contestants? Time limits. Time limits quicken pulses, dilate pupils, and quicken the breath. Recognize it and use it to your advantage. 
  • We are communal animals. We go with the crowd. This is why you share your customer’s stories with prospects. The good parts and the bad. Tell them they aren’t alone.
  • Decisions are made on a sliding scale of emotion and logic. Individuals can be swayed more by emotion, committees less. This is by design. Don’t fight it, work with it.

Being Human – Getting off the solution

“The solution to any problem -work, love, money, whatever – is to go fishing, and the worse the problem, the longer the trip should be.” – author John Gierac


Prospects come to us looking for solutions. This sounds great, but presents a problem. We both love talking about solutions. The client is happy to talk about our solutions because it keeps them from going deeper into the problems they are solving. We love our solutions because it’s what we do.

For both of our intents and purposes we should get off the solution. For our sake, we may be passing up and opportunity, and for their sake, they may not have the right solution in mind.

But what about you, Greg?

This just happened to me. Our prospect came in with a problem to be solved, and a solution in mind. In this case he is concerned about a process and the time spent in it. He digs up the report to show us what he is talking about, and we are instantly pulled in. “Is that a Crystal Reports report I see?” I say. That’s all it took. We are off to the races talking about his solution. As a matter of fact, we do a great job with the solution.

  • How much time would you say is spent on this?
  • How many people does this involve?
  • How many times is there a problem versus a non-problem?

As the answers come back it is clear to the team there is a yellow light. A giant flashing “proceed with caution” light. To our credit, we address it.

“This solution is going to cost too much for what you’re getting in return,” we say. He does the math with us and agrees. We say, “You should go to your software vendor and ask for X, Y, and Z. This will get you halfway to the solution you want and save the time you are looking for.” Heads nod, and we all walk away feeling good about how we’ve treated each other.

You missed it, Greg

In the parking lot I ask the prospect what he thought, and as he talks I get a sinking feeling. I know I’ve made a mistake. We dug into the solution he brought to us, but didn’t focus on the problem. To be more specific, we never asked about the other problems he is working on in his business.

We could have managed the conversation in a couple of different ways. One at the beginning of the conversation, and one at the end.

First, we could have ignored his solution and asked more about the problem. “Mr. Prospect, we are happy you’re here to talk to us about process management. We are experts in XXX. Before we talk too much about this solution, what is it you will be able to do, that you can’t do today, if this problem is fixed?” By getting off the solution we can get the problem on a list, then ask about other problems. “And what else?” This question is all we need to get a complete list of things to fix in the business. In this case it would have revealed a longer term problem the business owner is trying to fix.

Second, we didn’t need to solve the yellow light. When a flashing yellow light appears we need to address it. We need to share our concerns, explain our hesitancy, but instead of outlining what we would do next, ask the prospect what he wants to do. “Mr. Prospect, by the looks of it here on paper, the cost of the solution is going to be at least as much as the problem itself. . .it’s almost the same number. What would you like to do?” In this case it would have flushed out a few more problems, and best case, revealed his vision of the future. In this prospect’s vision of where he wants to go, there is an opportunity to help him reduce the cost to get there.

I know better.

The good news is we will go back and talk some more. And next time I’ll know to stay off the solution and not be so quick to present next steps because the client probably has other ideas in mind.

Good stuff.

Random stuff


“A useless life is only an early death.” – Von Goethe


Husbands, do you ever fantasize about other women? I catch myself thinking about life with other women besides my lovely bride every now and then. Not in the way you are thinking, in other ways.

My bride is at least a foot shorter than me and I have her outweighed by, well, a lot. This means I get tasked with a lot of lifting, reaching, and other chores. That leads to the fantasizing. Like when I’m in the grocery store and I see a tall blonde, I look her over and start to imagine a different life. “I bet she can carry a couch up two flights of stairs by herself, for sure” or “this one, she can reach the top shelf and open a jar of pickles, easy.”

These thoughts came up earlier this week after I discovered a new feature on my Peloton app. Strength training exercises. My workouts are limited to cardio, but this week I try the strength bit. What follows is a half hour of squatty movements, curling light weights, planky push-ups etc. Being new to this kind of body movement, the next day I can barely lift my arms over my shoulders. I ache all over. I mention this to my lovely bride and demonstrate my limited overhead movement, groaning and wincing with gusto as I stretch to the top shelf.

The look flashing across her face is terrifying.

It’s way past the look that flashes across my face when I see a tall woman in the checkout. Best described as a mix of disappointment and instant consideration communicating something along the lines of, “huh, if you can’t reach the top shelf anymore, what good are you?”

She’ll deny it, but I saw the look. If you see her, mention my workout pain is gone. Remind her it was fleeting. Temporary. As of this morning I can get to the top shelf again. Easy peasy. No pain. No grunting. No groaning. No wincing.

I’m not sure that she believes me.


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