Logical Problem Solving

What – Why – What – Go – (www.go)

Addressing needs is another way to say you’re solving problems. Great sales people are natural problem solvers in that they know how to find customer needs, both business and personal, and figure out how to address those needs which results in winning the business. The thing that makes great sales people natural problem solvers is that it’s not enough for them to know that something is wrong or that a customer has a need, instead they know how to ask questions and observe so they clearly understand “why” the need or problem has surfaced so they’re sure to propose the right solution, in the right way.

What – Why – What – Go is really a discipline more than it is a model. It’s something I’ve used over the years to ensure we knew why things were happening before we launched into costly solutions. It’s a very logical discipline and yet anyone in business has experiences where people wanted to go directly to solution without really knowing why they were doing it.

Many people in business, and politics for that matter, want to take action so they can feel and look like they’re getting something done. Most often when we launch into action without knowing “why” the problem has occurred we end up addressing a symptom but not the core problem. After investing time and resource the core problem still exists so we’re back to square one. How do we discipline ourselves to avoid this? Force yourself and your teams to understand “why” the problem exists before deploying a solution.

What is the problem?

The problem is usually easy to identify. Sales have declined, customers are complaining, employee turnover is high, etc. It’s important that you do the analysis to know for sure you have a problem, but this is usually the easiest part of the discipline.

Why did it happen?

I’ve found this to be the hardest part of the process, especially with sales teams, because sales people are naturally action oriented. But the best sales people I’ve worked with are naturally curious and demand to know why a problem exists before they take action. Just the simple act of asking why until the question is answered is an incredibly good use of time and for sales people who know their territory or customer this is usually not a long process. This is where good sales managers, coaches and peers are very beneficial because they will want to know why you want to act.

What can you do to stop it from happening?

If you’ve put in the thought and analysis to understand why something happened, what to do about it naturally builds out of that process. If you don’t understand why a problem occurs, then providing a solution is guessing and you’re relying on luck to solve the problem. You don’t want to rely on luck to win the sale.

Go get it done

This is simply about acting, now, on what you can control. If you don’t know what to do next you most likely don’t have a solution.

Answering “why” something is happening before evaluating solutions is critical. Sometimes we can get personally invested in a particular solution before we know why the solution is needed which causes people to do what I call reverse justification. Reverse engineering is something scientists and technologists do to understand how something works. This is a situation where working backwards is helpful.

Reverse justification is what business people sometimes do when they are more focused on having their solution implemented than having the right solution. They’ve thought of what sounds like a smart idea and are often good at building presentations that say why their idea is the best. It’s no longer about winning the business by solving a problem but instead it’s about having the winning idea which may or may not solve the problem.

Even if you’re lucky enough to have a team member who knows enough about the “why” to build a solution, I find going through the process, helps create common understanding, which is a needed step to getting all your stakeholders on board.

What – Why – What – Go or (www.go). Give it a try.

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