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How we define a problem inevitably constrains our solutions to the problem. That’s why it’s so important to think about the problem we are trying to solve and defining it in a way that enables us to solve the problem in a meaningful way.

As we address the issue, “How do we drive sales, how do we grow our business, how do we achieve our numbers,” depending on how we frame the issues/problems around revenue growth, we could be seriously constraining the solutions that are available to solve the problem.

Most organizations frame the issue around, “What we sell.” Inevitably, this leads us down a very company/product centric view of our sales strategies. It biases all our thinking to what we do and how we sell. This thinking leads us to a product/solution focused approach to selling, usually, we end up in some variant of, pitching or product centric focus on engaging the customer.

Fewer organizations frame the issue around “How we sell.” This leads us down very different paths. When we focus on this, we tend to look the process of how we engage our customers. This approach may lead us to completely different approaches to selling. It may be more customer centric, in may be more collaborative, it may be more focused on how we create value with the customers. Of course, depending on how we look at it, we could come up with some very self centered, inward-out approaches to selling (much of the high volume/high velocity approaches represent the result of this).

But what if we framed the problem a little differently?

What if we started by asking ourselves, “Why do customers buy, how do they buy?”

Instead of focusing on what and how we sell, what if we inverted the process by starting with the thing that creates revenue—it’s customers buying. How might we change our approaches to selling if we simply started defining the problem in the context of the why and how of what they do, then align all the things that we do around helping them with those processes?

There’s another advantage to changing the way we define and look at solving problems. If we keep defining them in a single way, for example “what we sell,” we limit the potential solutions. Inevitably, we revert to past approaches, but if they are no longer as effective as they had been, we don’t do much to change the outcomes. As many have said, “If the only tool you use is a hammer, pretty soon everything looks like a nail.”

Reframing the way we look at problems can help us move forward in tremendous ways. It can help us look at different solutions and approaches. It enables us to combine a variety of approaches. It enables us to overcome challenges we may encounter in our previous approaches.

We need to continue to look at what we sell and how we sell. But we might be able to move the needle, by expanding our views, reframing how we look at driving revenue growth. Looking at why and how our customers buy, might drive some new success.