Creaky Knees (Issue 477)

In which we revisit the importance of looking at the whole picture even when someone says, “it hurts …right … here.”

Youthful excess and advancing age have led to creaky joints. From time to time, I seek help from physical therapists, trainers, and physicians.

I went to see a new provider last week. Our interview began with, “What has brought you here?” [This should sound familiar to frequent readers of this column as “the agenda-setting question.”]

I described my creakies. In my experience, the next step with in these sessions has typically been physical examination of offending creaky parts followed by recommendations to increase functionality.

My provider went in another direction. “How’s your health?” For the next 30 minutes he took a detailed personal and family health history. Parents. Siblings. Grandparents. Aunts and Uncles. Cousins. Dates. Births. Injuries. Treatments. Illnesses. Medications. Deaths. Exercise programs. Diet. The lot.

He then said, “Some of your challenges are genetic. Some are obviously the result of injury and wear. We need to handle those differently.” Then he did his physical exam and suggested some next steps that will involve X-rays, blood work, and other data gathering.

Note: He didn’t do the typical “open – probe – recommend – close” focused on a specific symptom – a knee or a hip, for example. He suggested we take a full systematic view.

Sales application: Whenever a client or prospect says, “I need to solve this problem” (e.g. my knees hurt, I have too much cash sitting in remote locations, I need to reduce computer system down time), we sellers can focus on the presenting problem only (i.e. the creaky part) or we can look more broadly at the whole system.

The broader our understanding of our prospect’s history of decisions (the “family history”), the better we’ll be able to make recommendations that will work … and … to understand the value our services will create … and to differentiate ourselves from competitors. Even if we’re selling only components of a larger solution.

In my case, even if my provider recommends simple stretches, I feel confident he has taken all important factors into account. He knows who he is dealing with. I feel reassured by his approach.

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