Solving the Right Problem

Are You Solving the Right Problem?


Change is hard and people don’t like to be “sold to.” So, whether you’re selling a service, sharing bad news, or communicating change, make sure you are solving the right problem.

That’s what today’s post is all about.


The water in my town is not suitable for drinking, so when Michael and I moved in we bought a 5 gallon water cooler (the kind you see in office settings) that takes up space in the corner of our kitchen.

Over the years, I’ve been the one who, 98% of the time, fills the 5 gallon jugs. So, last week I went to BJ’s Wholesale Club to get new jugs and ran into a woman I’d met once at a networking event. We chatted for a few minutes, parted ways and kept shopping. A few minutes later, while lifting a 5 gallon jug of water from the floor into my shopping cart I heard, “Stacey! Stacey! You MUST try this product!”

This woman ran down the aisle with a marketing flyer in her hand. When she reached me, slightly out of breath, she waved the flyer at me (mind you I’m still handling the 5 gallon jug) and said, “I sell this home water purifier system. You’ll love it. You won’t have to carry the 5 gallon jugs anymore! It just sits on your counter.”

I immediately shut down and said, “Thank you, I’ll take a look.”

Ugh, do I hate being sold to.

She wasn’t solving the right problem

While I did look at the flyer (integrity is important), I never followed up (and neither did she, but that’s a post for another day). Why? Because I actually like filling and carrying the 5 gallon jugs – makes me feel healthy, strong and capable.

The problem I do have? Aesthetics. I don’t particularly like having this 5 gallon water cooler sitting in a corner of my kitchen.

Are you solving the right problems?

You may have a service or product you are SO excited about. Or, you might see how certain changes can make a world of difference for your team. Maybe you may have a brilliant idea that can solve local or global problems. But if you’re not solving the right problem – and therefore selling the right solution – no one will buy-in.

Here’s a business example.

The finance team of a non-profit organization hired me for presentation coaching. They needed to share not-so-great financial news with staff and donors. The financial folks were afraid of the resistance and anger. A valid concern.

So I asked the them, “Why are you giving these presentations?”

They said, “We need to tell people about the changes.”

I said, “And what are they afraid of?”

The audience was afraid of losing jobs or the organization shutting down.

I asked, “So what problem are you really solving when you present this information?”

“We’re alleviating their fear,” one of them said quietly.

And that changed the whole conversation.

If you are met with resistance when trying to “sell” a vision, service or idea (and yes, people will resist), take time to “get in their head,” identify their real problems, fears and desires, and not just what you want or think they want. Get curious and ask questions. Make sure you are solving the right problem. You might find that they put down the 5 gallon water jug and try a water purifier instead.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a 5 gallon water jug to fill.

Your turn to talk to me

  1. Do you like carrying 5 gallon water jugs?
  2. Are you solving the right problems?
  3. What are some ways you’ve been successful?

Your Voice Matters. Keep Shining.

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About the blog

Humor, stories, and insights, delivered 2x per month, to perform without the pressure.

Topics include mental health, work, human connection, creativity and more.


1 Comment

  1. […] And there is a difference. That’s why I want you to remember that it’s not about you. Solve the right problem and be of service when you talk to people about what you […]

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