Your Are Not Treating the Presenting Problem

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
June 23, 2010

people wearing masksIt is your job to discover your dream client’s dissatisfaction (at least if you want to win the deal it is), to discover the ground truth, and then to develop a solution that helps them produce a better outcome. But the presenting problem isn’t always the real problem that needs resolved. More often than not, there is something lying just underneath that problem that needs to be solved in order to help your dream client achieve a better outcome. It is your job to dig deep enough to ensure that you discover what lies beneath.

The Presenting Problem Problem

This is easiest to understand with an example. You visit your dream client, and your dream client says that their biggest challenge is with the customer service that they receive. They complain about the people that they work with at their current provider. They complain about the lack of attention that they are receiving.

Now you understand their dissatisfaction. You plan to present how your team is high touch, how your company differentiates itself on customer service. You plan to present how you and your company are unmatched in an independent survey, and to provide them with your team’s telephone numbers and their cell phone numbers.

But during your presentation, you discover that as much as they like what you present, all of their questions are about how you customize your service and bring your dream clients innovative ideas, two areas you could have been prepared to tackle—had you known.

Sometimes the presenting problem is a problem. It looks like a problem. It sounds like dissatisfaction. And sometimes the presenting problem can by itself really be a problem that you and your company can solve. And sometimes the presenting problem isn’t the real problem at all.

In the example above, our fictitious dream client complained about customer service. But the real issue was that their problems required the resourcefulness that enables customization and innovations. Our fictitious dream client needs to have you customize and innovate in order so that they can serve their dream client. They may have termed their problem in words that described it as customer service, but the real problem was something far different.

Treat the Cause

Your role as salesperson is to do the professional diagnosis that unveils dissatisfaction and also reveals the ground truth. You need to discover the real cause that prevents your dream client from achieving better outcomes. When you treat the cause, the symptoms are cured as well.


Doing a great diagnosis at the beginning of the sales process enables a better solution and a more focused presentation. But to make sure both meet your dream client’s needs, you need to discover the cause of their dissatisfaction and not simply the presenting problem.


    1. How do you discover the real source and cause of dissatisfaction?

    1. In your business, what causes present as something else? Which presenting problems look like problems that you help to solve but may actually be something else entirely?

  1. How do you ensure that you are treating the cause and not just the presenting problem?

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 23, 2010
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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