Working closely with a tech entrepreneur whose business now flourishes into its second decade, I was so glad to learn another remedy of the word 'problem', ahem, problem.
I've lost count of the number of times I've heard - both in training and the field - an exchange along these lines;
rep: got any problems...?
buyer: [disgruntled sigh] well, yeah, I guess so, maybe...
The atmosphere that underpins such dialogue laying firmly outside of two collaborating parties. Miles away from genuine partnership. Not a sniff of seller attempting to slide around onto the buyer side of the table. Total absence of empathy for the prospect viewpoint.
That word at its core causes much of the trouble.
Problem? I've haven't got any. No, not me.
Even if they did feel they had a problem, would they really be willing to reveal so on an early conversation, let alone a first approach?
One insight I often find myself sharing is in synonyms for the word 'change'.
I've a slide with sixty.
Very often, to own the language is to own the bid. And if you can switch a single word at the heart of your proposal, then adopted by the prospect, you're halfway home.
The same construct applies to the word, 'problem'.
And so it was with glee I learned that trained psychotherapists similarly know the walls which the word erects.
One solution? To re-label 'problems';
'issues of concern'.
Although it may initially strike you as quite a formal phrasing, you do sense that it has power.
For a start, it can more ably refer to consequences arising from a positive, as well as the normal focus on the bad.
Then there's the framing for prospect discussion.
How many a Prop do you see with a page headed, Problem?
Every decent such doc must have some level of outline of the current situation and ramifications.
Yet what if everyone else is using the same term?
It's pretty likely, right.
So change it up. Add yet another element of distinctive selling to their buying experience. Be seen as better for the potential client.
There are many other words you can use that are way better than the generic, catch-all 'problem'.
We often talk of barriers and hurdles. Bottlenecks and delays. Downside or risk.
What other syntax can you slot in that sets you apart?
Just this weekend, I saw a headline roughly;
Ukraine Heroes Impede Putin.
Imagine that amid real-life talking with your prospect;
...what might impede you?
I myself recently used wording away from the traditional to gauge;
'if there's a rupture and would it need a suture?'
And finally, think about the internal chatter at your prospect organisation.
The classic satire is where you'd see not problems, but only solutions. No such things as any outstanding problem, just unrealised opportunity.
Going into Issues of Concern might just give your prospect a distinguishing career tactic of their own too.