Don't sell products. Sell problems

Don’t sell floors, sell problems

Many salespeople focus on what they do or how they do it.  Your prospect is less interested in the what and the how.  They have a problem or need. And they want to know you understand and empathize with that problem or need and can address it.

Let's consider 3 people, who in effect have the same need.  They are all suffering from a splitting headache.

  • Sally's head is throbbing and she can't sleep at night.
  • Tom has the sniffles and a pounding head.
  • Leslie has a huge headache between her eyes and can't concentrate.

Yes, they all have a headache.

But they will be drawn to solutions that intimately speak to their problem.  If they walked into their local CVS pharmacy and wandered down the painkiller aisle they will buy the product that identifies most strongly with solving their problem:

  • Sally will buy Advil PM
  • Tom will buy Advil Cold and Flu
  • Leslie will buy Advil Migraine.

Here's the thing. They all have the same active painkilling ingredient, 200mg of ibuprofen.

In fact, they could get the same pain relief with a generic non-branded version for a fraction of the price.


Let's take this concept to selling floors.  At the end of the day, a floor is a commodity product (like ibuprofen). Telling people:

“Trust us, we have been in business for 31 years and install great floors”

is like telling our headache sufferers we invented aspirin 60 years ago and it's an effective painkiller.  It just won't fly.


Let's consider an example.  We have 3 property managers:

  • Sally has mostly corporate tenants in her building.
  • Tom has quite an eclectic group of tenants who tend to turn over quite quickly.
  • Leslie has mostly medical practitioners.

They all want a new floor. (They all have a bit of a headache and want a painkiller)

But their underlying problems are subtly different.

We have to find out what they are so we can wrap our floor with the right packaging.

They can all shop with Acme Discount Flooring and Supplies to get the generic low priced version.

Your brand, like Advil (insert your flooring company name here) has some cachet so you can command a higher premium.

But you are up against two other higher-end, full-service, established flooring companies with experience in tenant improvement work.

The winner will be the one who appears to address the property manager's problems best.


Sally knows her corporate tenants, and particularly their owners (who pay the bills!) place a premium on image. These owners are adamant about creating great first impressions.  Her problem is creating an environment that wows when you enter the building. Your bid therefore should emphasize how magnificent their entry lobby will look.


Tom is all about minimizing downtime between when his old tenants move out and new ones move in. Tom's problem is managing cashflow.  Your chances of winning would be greatly enhanced by discussing your quick turn capability, the wide choice of stock products and solutions you have on hand, and the speed of your installation.


Leslie's problem is ensuring her medical tenants are not disturbed by noise or dust.  Emphasizing your OSHA certification, your ability to minimize dust and the acoustic quality of your floor will be music to her ears.


The installed floor is the same.  The way it is sold is very different.

The better you can frame their problems and speak to them the higher chance you have of winning and the higher margin you can command for your work!