From the Desk of Lynn Woolf

Lynn Woolf, Managing Editor

A marketing friend gave me this advice a few years back: To win a customer, focus on their problems, not your benefits. The rationale: The benefits of your product, company or service matter to you. Their problems matter to them. You matter to them if you solve their problems.

Breaking free from touting competitive advantages — better, faster, cheaper, smarter — is tough to do. How will they buy from us if they don’t know what we can do for them?

I’ve been thinking about this as our Rural Lifestyle Dealer team interacts with various perspectives — dealer, manufacturer and consumer. Manufacturers try to win you over by touting legitimate benefits, such as dealer support, equipment quality, and industry leadership. Does that move you to add another equipment line? Or, perhaps your decisions are more problem focused, such as searching out a new line to fill a product gap or to offer another price point to capture more customers.


Likewise, the equipment’s benefits matter to consumers if it solves their problems. Helping them identify the problem can be a challenge. Rural lifestylers are a varied crowd. Some have money to spend; some not. Some look at chores as part of the reason they live in the country. Others need to finish up chores to pursue their passions, be it outdoor sports, raising animals or “homesteading.”

Smart dealers tell us time and again that thoughtful questions, not small talk and sales pitches, lead to understanding customers’ needs and problems. Then, you have the chance to “wow” them with how better, faster, cheaper, smarter is just what they need.

The same can be true for your conversations with manufacturers. Zeroing in on your problems could lead to the best match with a new manufacturer. You told us last fall that low sales margins, equipment shortages and pressure for dealer purity are among your top concerns. New challenges may be surfacing during this peak selling season. Are manufacturers asking you the right questions to turn these and other problems into mutually beneficial solutions?

Lynn Woolf,
Managing Editor
Rural Lifestyle Dealer