Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

When a customer requests a proposal, how do you respond?

If you propose a solution that merely resolves the stated problem, then you may relieve the customer’s immediate pain without ever discovering how your solution could help the customer succeed in the longer term. Your solution is a transaction, a one-time resolution that wastes an opportunity to reveal your organization’s broad experience and competency in a way that differentiates you in the eyes of the customer.

But if, prior to proposing your solution, you probe to discover why resolving the need helps the customer succeed, how solving this problem relieves the pain while supporting the customer’s goal achievement, then your solution becomes an investment in the customer’s future. Learning more about the customer’s current circumstances, and how their problem is constraining their progress, opens the door to a discussion that transforms your solution – from the resolution of a short-term pain into an opportunity to impact longer term success. It’s a discussion that enables you to leverage your portfolio of experience, expertise and competency, revealing your distinctiveness and your commitment to the customer’s success.

Acting with urgency to relieve a customer’s pain faster than the competition generates transactional value in the customer’s eyes, and it feels right. But this tactic squanders an opportunity to demonstrate your competitive advantage and your commitment to the customer, while producing little sustainable, strategic value. Customers do not care about your products or services – they care only about the value you can produce for them. The greater your generated strategic value, the more enduring will be your relationship with the customer.

How can you better discover what your customer values?
How can your solutions contribute to your customers’ success?