Crossing the Real Chasm for Buyers

May 21st, 2013 by Matthew Rosenhaft Leave a reply »

A couple of leading questions that I think will frame the discussion. What is the difference between:

1. Pain versus Problem?

2. Solutioning versus Decisioning?

3. Solution Adoption versus Buyer Adoption?

4. Solution Delivery versus Problem Solving?

5. Peer-Influenced versus Vendor-Driven Decision Support?

If you can’t diagnose the REAL underlying problem that is the causation of the symptomatic pain that buyers are experiencing – think strategic, cross-functional business problem that the SVP has to really make a serious, involved decision to solve versus the departmental complaints that give you an indication something is broken – then it is really hard to facilitate the complex decisions they need to make to solve the problem.

If you are not solving the problem, you are really looking for pain to match to your solution’s value proposition. May solve the real underlying problem, or not. Solutioning is not problem solving. Buyers are looking at adoption as “what do I need to solve a painful problem?” while vendors look at adoption as “What do I need to do to get a buyer to buy my technology solution?” The disconnect creates a huge risk for the buyer which grows exponentially with the number of depts/people involved with decision, complexity of the technology, complexity of the implementation, cost of the solution, and the length of the project. Add in the need to get people trained and using the system fully to see the value and you wonder why buyers are hesitant to move forward, fear the unknown, and feel like most projects fail to meet their expectations?

If you can’t diagnose their problem accurately – singular strategic problem, multiple problems, overlapping symptoms, pretty diagnostic pictures (think MRI); what is the risk that you will only treat the visible symptoms and misdiagnose the underlying problem? Never happens, right? 90% of technology projects fail to meet buyer expectations, right? Spent a $100 Million on an ERP solution that they never implmented fully, right? Why?

1. Didn’t diagnose the problems clearly and get agreement from all of the stakeholders before moving forward

2. Vendor was focused on selling the solution so they looked for pain, but didn’t facilitate the problem diagnosis, but rather focused on doing the necesarry amount of discovery and planning to convince the decision makers.

3. Vendors credibility was on their solution and implementation expertise, but not necesarily in understanding and diagnosing the underlying strategic business problems

4. Functional roles – business development focused on the executive relationships, marketing communications on awareness, product marketing on product value, product management on requirements, implementation on configuration to customer’s environment, training on product training with the custom workflow overlay, support on product support, etc. Who focused on the buyer’s problem? Did we solve the problem or did we deliver the solution that we thought best addressed their pain?

5. Complexity begets more complexity – without a clear definition of success – solving the defined business problem(s), we get lost in the complexity of the complex organization’s needs. Every group has their own metrics, their own goals, and their own silos as part of the solution delivery value chain. But, who owns the cure to the disease? It’s like having a team of doctors doing their part of a surgery, but no one really keeping an eye to whether the patient lives or dies on the table. Success = living if anyone was confused. Ever heard of the treatment causing more harm than the orginal illness? Anything with mercury was a really bad idea…. Some of our technology solutioning processes could really be relatable to alchemists.

At the end of the day, are you a trusted advisor around helping them with the complex decisions that they need to make to solve a particular complex business problem or are you merely a solution expert who specializes in finding pain to sell your solution? Who do you think your buyers value/trust more? When I go to your website, do I see problems or products? Is it any wonder that buyers value peers who have been there and experienced similar problems to help them determine what real problem they have and what options should they consider in solving that problem? Are you part of their problem or part of the solution, really?

If you don’t really know what problems that you solve for your buyers, it is really hard to be a trusted advisor in solving those problems, right? First step has to be a diagnostic as to what problems you solve for whom. Then an assessment of what decisions they need to make to solve that problem. The next step is to roadmap for them how your organization will help them to solve that problem. Now, you need to do that in the peer-influenced markets before they identify themselves to your team to discuss your solution or conduct a transaction with you. Enable the buyer to see how you will help them solve the problem before requiring them to engage with you. Qualify on problem before qualifying on interest.

Matthew Rosenhaft

Matthew is a Social Marketing Executive and is co-founder of Social Gastronomy, LLC and the Social Executive Council. Prior to founding Social Gastronomy, Matthew has over 18 years’ experience as an executive in marketing, product management, and sales. Matthew has an extensive background in the SaaS Software, Social Media, Mobile, IT Services, and Telecom industries. He has prior entrepreneurial experience as a founder and executive in several early-stage venture-backed technology companies, as well as, holds several US patents for a mobile marketing technology. Matthew is a prominent blogger and regular industry speaker on social marketing and strategy topics. Matthew’s blog can be found at For more information on Matthew, you can check out his LinkedIn profile at or contact him directly at