Problems Beat Solutions in Lead Generation

Today I saw an “expert” throwing around that old adage about “People don’t buy features. They buy benefits.” Though that is a nice idea, I must politely disagree, because it will kill your lead generation efforts.

As I tell all my clients “People’s biggest problem is that they don’t know what their biggest problem is.”

Every potential prospects for your product/service starts out the same way: They realize that something is not going the way they want it to. Something is wrong. They have a “problem.”

At this point they go looking for a “solution.” This is when they engage – online or offline – your lead generation messages.

This is also when everything gets screwed up!

You see most human beings are incapable of objectively evaluating their situations. So, they SUBJECTIVELY look at their “problem.” Then they SUBJECTIVELY decide what the necessary “solution” is. Then they go out and look for the easiest (read: Cheapest) way to get that solution.

At this point they engage your lead generation message that says “I sell widgets.” If they have decided that they need a widget, then you go into their list of possible vendors. If they have decided they need something else, then you and your widgets are ignored.

But….what if they don’t really need a widget? And what if you don’t really sell widgets?

What if they really need to change the layout of where the widgets go in their machinery? But they don’t know this because they SUBJECTIVELY diagnosed and solved their own issue?

And what if you, as an afterthought service, provide layout advice for widget placement in machines? But you don’t mention that in your lead generation messages because you think the only value you have is the widget?

Now, what if your lead generation message said: “If you are looking for widgets you’re making a mistake” – How would that grab their attention?

Your prospects, who felt secure in their decision to just go out and buy widgets, have to stop and consider your words. They will have to look at the rest of your message to make sense of what you are saying.


At this point you can explain that the problem with widgets is not just buying them but, more importantly, how you lay them out in the machinery.

You have helped the prospect get to their real problem. You have built credibility. And you will have a much higher degree of sales of your widgets because of it.