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The “Stub the Toe Problem” – The crucial pivot to sales in your messaging


Today, we’re flipping the script from our usual focus on purpose.

Because we actually need different types of messaging for different aspects of our marketing and business building.

As purpose-driven leaders, we tend to talk a lot about mission and calling in our work. This is actually an incredibly important aspect of messaging because it’s what helps us build a “tribe.” When you share who you are, what you care about and the vision you see for them and for the world, you pull people into your orbit who are interested in and committed to the same things. 

But when it comes to sales, you actually need to flip the script on your messaging and focus on something I call the “Stub the Toe Problem.”

Imagine this: you stub your toe. It’s sudden, it hurts like hell, and you know *exactly* where it hurts. This pain isn’t generic or ambiguous; it’s specific, localized, and demands attention—now! 

In sales, the “stub the toe problem” is the problem that’s clear and specific enough that your people can point to it and say “Ouch! That’s the problem!” 

Your offers will always perform best when you pinpoint the specific pain points your people can point to, have pain around, and are willing to spend money to address. 

When you focus on the “stub the toe problem,” you do more than just sell a product—you connect with what your customer is genuinely experiencing. You demonstrate an understanding of their current state, empathy with their pain, and a commitment to solve their specific issues.

But so many purpose-driven entrepreneurs push against being so specific! Maybe you feel it’ll box you in or keep people out. “The problem is so much deeper than they realize,” is something I hear people say. 

If you address your tribe’s “stub the toe” problem will you be stuck delivering surface-level solutions to those problems? 

Or worse, will you have to play bait-and-switch by “selling them what they want and giving them what they need.”

Absolutely not.

Not only is it deceitful and disingenuous, it will actually turn your service into a commodity where you’re selling what everyone else is selling. 

Think about the “stub the toe” problem simply as the place you’re meeting your people. Addressing it is saying, “I get it – that’s what you’re pointing at as the problem… and I know it hurts.”

But that alone doesn’t demonstrate your thought leadership or the sophistication of your solution.

That’s why your job as a purpose-driven leader and messenger is to build a bridge in your audience’s mind from the “stub the toe” problem floating on the surface and the root issue at the bottom of the ocean. 

Because when you help them see the sophistication of their problem, they also see the need for a sophisticated solution. 

If you refuse to identify real and pressing issue that your audience members have is a massive disservice to your people. They usually can’t connect the dots between their problem and your solution…

Which leaves them unserved and you unpaid.

So practice painting a clear,  specific picture of their “stub the toe” problem…

AND get really adept at helping them see the bridge to a true resolution.

When you do those two things, the ones who are ready to do the work will consistently step forward.

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