Start by asking yourself the question: “What problem needs a solution?”

What Can We Learn from the Ventures of Elon Musk?

It wasn’t enough that Elon Musk founded and later sold PayPal (for $1.5 billion!). He has since gone on to launch a number of different ventures, including:

  • Solar City – to provide solar products to residences and small businesses.
  • Tesla – to vault electric cars into the category of “cool.”
  • SpaceX – to pave the way for private space travel and exploration.

Oh, he’s not done. A few other projects he’s currently considering:

  • Mining asteroids for precious mineral.
  • Digging tunnels under L.A. in attempt to solve traffic problems.
  • Colonizing Mars.

Elon Musk is one of those people who live without limits. There is no “Can I do this?” filter when he analyzes opportunities. He is just foolish enough to believe that anything is possible.

What does this have to do with sales? Plenty.

Consider the common thread to the six endeavors I listed above. What is the strategic connection?

Elon Musk’s strategy is asking what problem needs a solution.

That’s it. Elon Musk spends his time thinking about really large-scale problems that need a solution. He doesn’t wait for technology to catch up or for the government to tackle the problem: he steps up to the plate himself.

Elon Musk’s strategy can translate into a career-strengthening approach for the sales professional.

For Elon Musk, his target audience is the entire universe. But his approach works beautifully even if your target audience is one prospect.

Start by asking yourself the question: “What problem needs a solution?”

That sounds simple enough. But it’s the extra mental baggage we layer on top of that question that gets us into trouble:

  • “How much would it cost?”
  • “Does my client even have the budget?”
  • “Do we really have the best solution?”
  • “What offering would my client best be attracted to?”
  • “Should I use LinkedIn or Facebook to try to make a social connection?”

This is the problem. Our tendency is to majorly overthink the solution before we actually understand the problem.

The next time you’re meeting with a new client, consider starting the conversation like this:

“I know you have a lot of things you could be doing with your time, and I want to respect that. I also know that if you were completely satisfied with the way things are today you wouldn’t feel the need to talk to me. So let’s spend some time talking about what is wrong today rather than how great my product is. If my product doesn’t solve your problem, I’ll let you know early on and save us both some time. Fair enough?”

Think problem first. Focus on where the customer is coming from before turning your attention to where he/she wants to move to.

Solve a problem, and you can change their world.

About the author

Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore, founder and president of Shore Consulting, Inc., is a highly sought-after sales…

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