What’s Your Problem? 3 Steps to Find the Answer


Do you know what your problem is? You have no idea what your problem is; and that is your problem. As a speaker, when you don’t know what your problem is, it creates a whole host of other problems.

Do you want to know the real reason you aren’t getting booked to speak? Ever wonder why you’re not the one on TV in the interview? Stumped about why you have no sustainable financial back-end to your business? Ever get frustrated why publishers won’t call you back? It’s because you don’t know what your problem is!

What I mean is this: the single most important element of your business strategy as a thought leader needs to be your own understanding of exactly what problem you solve for your clients.

Contrary to what you might think and spend your time on, CEOs don’t hire speakers that have fancy graphics, cool logos or cute tag lines. They don’t hire someone with a lot of Twitter followers. They don’t hire someone with the highest production value demo video. And usually, they don’t even hire the best speaker! Shocking.

Business leaders and financial decision makers don’t care about any of that, and they certainly don’t sit around thinking about who the next great speaker is that they’re going to bring in. However, they have and will always pay money – lots of money – for one thing: a solution to problem in their business.

It’s a plus that you have an online following. It’s great that you have a book. It’s important that your marketing materials look professional. It’s critical that you are amazing on stage. But none of that matters if nobody knows or can relate to what problem it is that you solve.

If you don’t feel like you, your business, and your ideas are getting the dollars or respect that you deserve, then try this little plan.

  1. Get Crystal Clear – You need to spend time thinking about the answer to this question “What problem do I solve for my clients?” Another way of thinking about it is like this, “What actual challenge – that has empirical, measurable, direct financial impacts on their bottom line – do they deal with in everyday business that I have solutions for?” You should be able to boil that down to one sentence max, and preferably one word.
  2. Sell the Problem – Benefit statements are great, but do you know what causes CEOs to say “I will spend $100,000 with you”? When they are crystal clear about how you’re going to help them solve a $1 million problem! You have to define the problem, and you have to translate and articulate to them exactly what the cost is of their problem on their own business. As speakers, we spend all of our time thinking about what the solutions are, but clients live in a world of problems. Don’t sell the solution; sell the problem! Tell them in your marketing materials what the impacts are of this problem to their business. Show them research on how much it costs. Clarify right up front in your demo video what problem it is that you solve. Highlight with a megaphone, and spotlight just how much this problem is costing them. This positions you to be their natural solution.
  3. Find The Solution – You have to work. You have to bust your butt to find real solutions to their problems. One of the somewhat fair critiques of our profession is that we are “a bunch of people with pithy one-liners, stolen stories and motivational platitudes that are alright to listen to but don’t actually solve anything or grow business!”

Push yourself to learn. Study. Read. Research. Write. And work hard – very hard – to try to find something semi-original to tell your clients that will actually help them. Try to give them ideas they can implement into their life and business that will make a true difference. Struggle to forward the thinking – not just repackage the same old stuff – on what has already been said. This is one of the most incredibly difficult but noble aspirations of our profession.

Your number one problem in your business is that you don’t know what their problem is that you solve. Get clear on your problem, and the solutions for your own business will start showing up.

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden, MBA, is co-founder of Southwestern Consulting. He is a self-discipline strategist; speaker and the New York Times best-selling author of Take the Stairs.
Rory Vaden
Rory Vaden
Rory Vaden
Rory Vaden

Latest posts by Rory Vaden (see all)