The Big 5: Problems


Have you ever wanted to avoid talking about a problem? If you’re like most people, you have. Most businesses are more afraid of discussing problems than losing customers and recruits.

Marketing and recruiting expert Marcus Sheridan explains how to talk openly about problems in business—and why that’s a good thing.

Why talk about problems?

Most companies don’t want to talk about problems with their products, services, or industry. They’re afraid they will lose business if they do. 

But your customers and recruits want to know about potential problems. They’re afraid of making a bad choice and working with the wrong company. 

You drive customers and recruits away when you don’t talk about potential issues. They can’t trust you to answer the tough questions, so they’ll go work with somebody who will answer them.

So you have a choice: Do you let them go or tell them about potential problems upfront?   

It’s a no-brainer. Of course, you should tell them upfront because honesty builds trust. When people trust you, they want to work with you. When people want to work with you, your business grows. 

If you want your business to do well, you must be honest about what’s not so great. 

Here’s what happens when you talk about problems

In addition to his marketing company, Marcus Sheridan is a River Pools and Spas partner. His customers always ask about the problems with fiberglass swimming pools. 

No other swimming pool company wanted to answer that question, so Marcus and his team did. They wrote an article called “Top 5 Fiberglass Pool Problems and Solutions.” It talked about the limits of fiberglass pools and pointed out some of the benefits, too.  

By openly talking about the drawbacks of their product, Marcus’ team took the elephant in the room and walked it right up to the front door. They said to customers, “Hey, this is our elephant. We like our elephant.” 

It turned out that customers liked their elephant, too. River Pools and Spas got more sales appointments from people who Googled the phrase “fiberglass pool problems” than any other search term (besides the company’s name). 

Answering one question about their product’s flaws generated millions of dollars in sales for Marcus’ company. Imagine what it could do for you.

What kind of problems should you talk about?

You’re not just airing your dirty laundry when you talk about problems. You’re answering questions that buyers and recruits are asking. 

You can recognize “problem” questions because they usually start with phrases like:

  •     Somebody told me . . .
  •     Is it true that . . . 
  •     I heard . . . 
  •     Your competitor said . . . 

These questions are all potential negatives. Your job is to turn them into positives.

How to talk about problems well

First, brainstorm all the questions people have asked you over the years about potential problems. These can be questions about flaws in the industry, your company, or a product or service. 

Then, write an article that addresses those issues transparently. (Depending on what products and services you offer, you may need more than one article.)

Be sure to include some positives, too. That keeps you from scaring people off. You’re educating them about pros and cons—so when you talk about a problem, you should also talk about a solution or benefit that goes with it. 

If you talk about problems honestly, you’ll build trust with customers and recruits and become a thought leader in your space. The results will blow you away. 

Coming up next . . . 

You just learned to talk about your customers’ and recruits’ problems. But one of your problems is that people always compare you to your competition. Learn how to deal with comparisons and make them work for you.

← How to Talk About Cost 

The Big 5: Comparisons →

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