Marketing Discovers Problems. Selling Solves Them

Suppose I offered you $1,000 to walk across a 20 foot long, 2×12 board  suspended 6 inches from the ground.  Easy, no problem says you.  Suppose instead the board is suspended 100 feet above the ground.  No way, says you.  An answer with no analysis. 

Why not?  Same board, same distance to walk, same skills required to cross, same reward.

The reason is that falling off the board is not impossible.  A 12 inch wide board is pretty easy to walk on and when the board is 6 inches off the ground, the risk is too small to care.   When it is 100 feet off, people care.

People manage risk intuitively.  Emotionally. That’s good in some ways and bad in others.

On a day to day basis, intuition is a good way to assess the risk of immediate death.  People ignore small risks that are present in everyday life.  Traffic, that extra donut, another drink, a dark alley short cut. The risk is low enough to not care. People wake up alive many times and treat it as normal.  

If you want to sell someone life insurance, you must help them understand the nature and cost of unlikely events. They have not seen it and it is an intellectually unpleasant idea to contemplate.  So they ignore it even though the cost could be high and the fix inexpensive. 

Many people have too little insurance given their situation.  Some have none. So what to do?  Notice a distinction. 

Marketing identifies problems and opportunities.   Selling displays solutions. Marketing and selling are opposite sides of the same coin.  Marketing more fully develops situations that are possibly unknown to the client.  Selling is about products and procedures that address that problem or opportunity.  They are quite different.

Selling eventually fails when it is used before marketing. If the problem is well described, quantifiable and it fits with the clients perception of the way things are or could be, selling becomes straightforward.  

If selling occurs before marketing, the client will understand neither the problem nor the solution.  In that case, the solution must be resold every few years, assuming you could make the sale in the first place.  The client will not be happy and the time commitment to resell the product many times is more than it would have been to help the client understand the problem and its nature.

Insurance advisors often get caught up in the complexity of their product and forget that from the client’s viewpoint it is just a black box that pays if they die. 

Marketing will not move much product so selling is required.  When you sell product without any marketing though, life becomes hard. 

There must be both. Then you sell solutions instead of black boxes and life is easier.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

One Comment on “Marketing Discovers Problems. Selling Solves Them

  1. Solutions without analysis are sure source of conflict and bad client relationships.The basic principle of our industry is education for our clients as previously stated no one is concerned about this critical aspect of the sales process.A thorough advisor will ensure that the client receives sufficient information about the process and what the purpose of the activity is before recommending a solution.So it follows that sales before marketing or analysis are a disaster in waiting.Thank you for reaffirming my position I will rather have no sale at all than to have unhappy clients who do not understand the solution

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