Your Client Wants Your Solutions Like They Want A Hole In The Head


I have news for you.

You have a snowball’s chance in Phoenix of getting your clients to listen to your solutions if you’re making one simple but incredibly common mistake.

Don’t get me wrong – they have problems and they desperately want solutions to those problems.

But they’re not going to listen to you unless you frame your solutions properly.

And guess what? You’re probably not doing that.

Firing Up The Wayback Machine

Let’s go back to high school for a moment. At some point in your teens, you dated someone who your friends or your parents didn’t like. And how do most people tell you they don’t like someone you’re dating?

They just blurt it out, don’t they? They say, “I don’t care for her because she’s ________.”

So there’s your solution delivered like a sledgehammer to the head. Boom. They tell you what they think you should do point blank.

Now that we’re all grown up, we can admit that a lot of times they were right. They had valid points that we probably should have listened to – and they were sincerely trying to help. But based on how their solution was delivered, we didn’t listen, did we?

When that person bluntly “criticized” the person you had the hots for at that time, how effective was their message?

You probably found yourself discounting their advice by saying or thinking things like…

“You just don’t know him/her.”
“You don’t understand our relationship.”
“You’re just like everyone else.”

There’s something about human psychology that makes us reject bluntly delivered black-and-white solutions. So much so, that sometimes solutions delivered in that manner actually motivate us to do the opposite. It’s kind of an, “Oh yeah? Well, watch this!” rebellious reflex.

Pick Your Role

There are two sides of this unwanted advice scenario you can wind up on. You can be the hammer or the nail.

If you’re the nail, as we discussed above, you get pretty fed up with being whacked over the head with solutions and ultimately wind up ignoring and resenting them.

If you’re the hammer, you can keep on hammering your solutions into people’s heads and then wonder why they don’t listen to you.

Inside the “Head” of the Hammer

As aspiring influencers, this is pretty alarming, isn’t it? I assume you have sincere intentions of really helping people, right? And you probably have some useful advice to share.

So why do people with problems resist your solutions? It seems totally backward.

When people ignore or reject your solutions, you might think it means that maybe your solutions aren’t particularly useful. It makes logical sense, after all.

But in most cases, that’s not what’s going on. The problem likely isn’t the quality of the solutions you’re presenting at all.

To explain the real reason, I’ll have to let you in on a private conversation from a while back.

What’s That Thing In Your Head?

I’ll take you back to a discussion I was having with Danny Iny about copywriting. If you don’t know Danny, or his company, Mirasee, let me catch you up.

Danny has a large, loyal following and is the Amazon best-selling author of Engagement From Scratch. Over time, he has become a valued friend and a mentor to me.

During this conversation, I mentioned how I’d noticed that so many potential influencers seem to have trouble gaining and keeping the attention of their audience.

Danny reminded me of one of his strategies that is both simple and brilliant. This concept is pure gold for anyone who is in the business of influencing others. But before I spill the beans, I’ll do to you what he did to me…

Watch this short video right now. You’ll be glad you did!

Ok. So that’s pretty funny, right? But let’s dig down for a deeper message in this video.

It’s Not About Sex

While you might think that the video portrays a classic man-woman situation, there’s a more important psychological interaction going on here.

This is really an empathy issue. It’s more a matter of, “you’re not even trying to understand what’s bothering me” than it is about gender.

Consider how you usually react toward people who you think are telling you what to do without making an effort to understand you. I’m guessing it’s not a very warm, fuzzy reaction.

Enter Freddy

Back to the conversation I was having with Danny. After watching the video, he reminded me of the copywriting formula that he teaches. It struck me that this formula is also a really powerful tool of influence outside of copywriting. One that any aspiring influencer can use to better connect with their audience or prospects.

With Danny’s permission, I’m sharing that formula with you right now. Afterward, we’ll discuss how the guy in that video could have used this formula to more effectively relate the woman in the video.

The copywriting formula is…

1: The hook
2: The problem as they (not you) see it
3: The real root of the problem
4: The solution
5: The call to action

So if you do write copy – there’s a free formula courtesy of Danny.

But even if you don’t write, let’s talk about how this information can help you.

Suppose for a moment that the guy in the video used a similar formula to communicate with his audience (the woman) in that video.

Instead of what he said in the video, what if he actually said…

1: The hook
“I understand that you have a pain between your eyes and in your forehead, you’re not sleeping, your sweaters are getting snagged, and it’s really frustrating.”

2: The problem as they see it
“It’s frustrating because you don’t know what it is. Maybe there’s a psychological issue or maybe there’s something wrong with you. Maybe you’re sick. “

3: The real root of the problem
“I get why you would think that, but there’s actually another solution that you’ve probably overlooked. If you just reach with your finger and put it on your nose and slowly slide it up, you’re going to notice that you’re touching a nail. That nail is actually what’s causing the problem.”

(And because you spoke about their pain and you acknowledge where they’re coming from, now they’re going to listen to you.)

4: The solution
“Here’s what you’re going to do to fix this annoying situation. You’re going to take a pair of pliers and you’re going to pull the nail out of your head. And removing the nail is going to change your life.”

5: Call to action
“So here’s what I want you to do: Go to the hardware store and buy those pliers, get in front of the mirror, and make that happen. If you have any questions about how to do this, then let me know. And if you do this and it changes your life, I want to hear about that, too.”

How might have the woman in the video have reacted differently if the guy had taken this approach? She would have been much more receptive to his solution.

Stop Trying To Fix It… For Now

I know you want to help – and I know you have a fantastic plan to help people solve their problems. But stop jumping straight to the solution. You need to first demonstrate that you care about their problem before you try to solve it.

You know that old saying, “People don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care?”

It’s like that. Show that you care first – and then show them what you know.

Do Me a Favor

The next time someone comes to you with a problem and you feel the temptation to whack them over the head with your solution… stop. Just listen. Then follow the steps outlined in this post.

Not only will you show the other person that their problem is truly important to you, but you’ll be much more successful in influencing them to take positive action.

Give it a try and come back here to let us know how it went for you.

Ok… spill it.
Tell us about a time when someone ran you over with their advice… or maybe you were the one who did the running over. Fess up. Let’s discuss it in the comments!


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Your Client Wants Your Solutions Like They Want A Hole In The Head

About Gary Korisko

Gary is a battle-tested sales and marketing pro, copywriter, coach, and business strategist who teaches how to create worthwhile work on Reboot Authentic. Connect with Gary on Google+ and Twitter.

28 Replies

  1. Hey Gary, great post! I have to say that, even with my experience as a therapist, it’s still hard for me not to whack a friend on the head with a premature solution. I think human beings in general are wired for problem-solving, so it takes skill to withhold that at first and truly listen to what is being said to us.

    1. Hi Bobbi –

      I think we are wired for problem solving. But the results and buy-in is *so* much better when you pull people in the direction of the solution and let them discover it… or at least the need for it.


  2. Ava

    Great post Gary! The video was fun to watch but has a brilliant point – as you do!

    In my experience listenning carefully is faster and far more effective than drawing conclusions. It works with customers (they tend thank me for being the only one who listens), co-workers, friends and family.

    1. Hi Ava:

      I assume you mean that listening better is more effective because it has less back-end problems associated with it, right? I would agree. Taking a little bit extra time on the front end usually saves time and frustration over the long haul.

      1. Ava

        Yes, that is what I mean. Being a good listener is not easy.

  3. Hi Gary you are bringing in so much good stuff here. In all our dealings with people we want to engage, show empathy and help. And there are skillful ways to do that which seem similar to copywriting!!

    1. To a degree, influence is influence. Whether you’re copywriting, teaching, or selling face to face – the common denominator is people. And people want to be understood.

      Thanks for your comments and compliments, Karen!

  4. Haha, Gary! I am forever grateful for the nail in the head image, because yes, it is tempting…

    I’m definitely that guy. I have pretty much stopped giving advice after years of backfires, but I’m still Mr. Fixit. I know the better way would be to guide clients to their own solutions by asking the right questions, but until I “nail” that art, better to just let them talk it out and be available for help when it is called for, mmm?

    The saying in content marketing is, “No one cares what you do. They only care about what’s in it for them.” But not only do 97% of about pages on business websites talk only about solutions, but many of them actually use the word “solutions” in their copy! As in, “Have problems? We have solutions.” Bounced.

    So thank you for “hammering” in the point from the perspective of an accomplished salesperson, Gary.

    1. Aaron… truth be told, my natural tendency is to be that guy, too.

      I’ve learned over time, though, that lessons tend to stick better if you walk/talk people through rather than whacking them over the head.

      And…. kudos on working in a few puns. Very nice.

  5. kentsanders

    Gary, this is a really great post – thanks for this info. I’m saving it to my Evernote file!

    1. Hi Kent:

      Thanks very much. I’m glad you enjoyed & saved it!.

  6. Jim Bessey

    Well told, Gary!

    Love the analogy, and the video too, of course! I think you really hit the nail on the head with this one…


    1. Thanks Jim.

      But I must warn you that I’ve called the Pun Police. They’re on the way. Fair warning.

  7. gosh this seems so obvious doesn’t it? but i am so guilty of this too! in fact my friend pointed it out to me the other day on my little “about me” blurb in my blog sidebar. one of the lines was “if your blog looks like crap, you’re losing credibility with newcomers.”

    she told me that it was a bit harsh and i should soften the blow a bit. at first i was a little taken aback, like what’s the problem here? (guess she could have used her own advice) 😉 but after thinking about it a little longer, i realized i didn’t want to come across as negative like that in my about blurb!

    1. Hi Marianne:

      That might actually be ok. Think of your blurb as a headline. It needs to grab attention. So you might consider re-wording it a bit, but don’t take the “oh, my” out of it. The important thing is that it grabs attention and pulls the reader in to wherever you want them to go. (I assume your about page?)

      Once you’ve grabbed their attention and they’re on your page, pull them along with your copy like the post says. But while you don’t want to insult anyone – you certainly *do* need to open eyes with it. If you think it’s too harsh, re-word… but I wouldn’t necessarily edit out the “crap.” It’s a judgement call.

      Jon Morrow is one of the best headline and subhead writers on the planet – and his hooks are often shocking. Check out this recent post…

      Scroll down and you’ll notice one of the subheads says, “Tell your mother to go to hell.”

      Whaaaat? It sucks you in. It’s not really disrespectful toward mothers. It’s actually a great writing exercise, but it pulls you into reading the copy below because you just *have* to know what he’s talking about. The key is that once you grab their attention, you had better deliver in the copy that follows.

      Make sense?

      1. yes Gary that helps! I think i have some work to do still on my about stuff. I am a little all over the place at the moment and need to hone it in. I will definitely be heeding your advice on this. Thank you very much!

        1. We all need to keep improving, Marianne. But no stressing – your site is looking fantastic already. Progress not perfection, right?

  8. Laura Leigh Clarke

    Ah Gary – this is an awesome post! You’ve hit the nail on the head – hehehe 🙂

    Seriously though – this was one of the biggest things I struggled with when I started business coaching. I had such a black and white view of what one needs to do to get from point a to point b that I would jump straight to it. I always felt a bit awkward doing it, because I could sense the other person recoiling. It wasn’t until I learnt to really dig into their problem and empathise with what was going on for them, and really see it through their eyes, that I could bring them round to see it from another perspective and take on board the advice.

    I used to feel sooo “kack-handed” a lot of the time… and even now, with all this experience under my belt now I still ocassionally get that same feeling and think – oh no, sledge-hammer Laura has struck again! Cringe!

    Thanks for illustrating how we can shape our advice to make it as helpful as we intend. Great post! 🙂

    1. Another punster piling on 🙂

      An answer that is learned is so much more meaningful than an answer that has been given. Which is why it’s important to communicate this way. It’s like the old, “give a man a fish/teach him to fish” thing. Thanks for stopping in!

  9. Your Writer Platform

    Well said, Gary! I’ve been both the ‘whacker’ and the ‘wacked’ in this scenario, despite my efforts to avoid both. I think for those of us with a little Type A in us, impatience lends a hand in the miscommunication. I mean come on, it’s just so OBVIOUS what need to be done… 😉

    1. Ha. I get it, Kimberly. but there are two reasons to slow that roll. First – people don’t react very well to it. And also they tend to learn better stepping them through.

      That being said, I understand. My natural tendency is to gift wrap answers, too. 🙂 Thanks for speaking up.

  10. What a useful post! (*runs off to add this blog to her page’s link widget for safekeeping*) Thanks! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Lynn. It’s always nice to make a new connection. Hope to see you here often!

  11. Jane Robinson- Art Epicurean

    Wow. I had seen that video before and never thought of it in the terms you described. You are right on and making me consider all kinds of new ways to communicate with others. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Jane. But credit where credit is due: Danny Iny’s the one who told me to watch the video and called my attention to the message within it. Either way, I’m very happy you found it useful!

  12. This is a good tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very accurate info… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!
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