Posted by: brandextenders | September 15, 2015

Order Taker or Problem Solver?

Seems like a pretty cut-and-dried decision, right? Do you take orders all day long or do you help people solve their work or personal challenges? Let’s see, the attendant at a drive-up window at the local fast food joint or salesman for a high-tech company that supplies the military with satellite navigational devices. You’d think the fast food person pretty much takes orders and the high-tech guy is a problem solver, right? But don’t judge a book by its cover.

Not just an order taker

Not just an order taker

It’s rare, but I’ve heard drive through people who are born salespeople. They are smiling when they ask for your order, but they also suggest options other than “would you like fries with that order?”  They make it easy to place your order, they’re efficient and say “thank you” as you drive off. On the other hand, I’ve seen supposed big-time salespeople who simply take the order for products or services from a procurement manager. No questions, no up-selling although they may remember to say “thank you.”

What differentiates someone as an order taker or problem solver in life? Here are just a few traits you might recognize in yourself:

  • Creative: Problem solvers are always looking for a solution to the challenges they face and not necessarily the most obvious ones. They look for creative solutions, ways that will differentiate them from the pack. Sales is a completely different game today than it was five or 10 years ago. The Internet has changed things and made it much easier for customers to find information and look for the cheapest price. Problem solvers don’t sell price, they sell solutions that solve problems, plain and simple.
  • A desire to help others: Order takers want to be helpful as long as they don’t have to do much to make that happen. Problem solvers, for the most part, have a true desire in their heart to help others. They will go above and beyond to help their customers, friends and family solve the challenges that arise and will do it with a smile as big as the Grand Canyon. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, always looking for new ideas around which they can create a business
  • No whining: Problem solvers don’t whine. If one option doesn’t work, it’s on to another and another and another until they find one or agree one doesn’t exist. But to whine would be counter-productive and wouldn’t get them any closer to helping others find creative solutions. As Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “If you have time to whine and complain about something, then you have time to do something about it.”
  • Go beyond the obvious: Almost every challenge or issue has an immediate and obvious answer. That doesn’t mean however that first answer is always the best course of action and problem solvers dig deeper. They’ll ask questions, take notes and discover what’s working and what’s not. Their options will usually be more encompassing and will look to not only solve the immediate challenges but those that may yet be on the horizon.
  • Always willing to learn: Order takers are happy there are clients that don’t need a lot of hand-holding. Problem solvers want clients that challenge them and make them look for new ways to tackle challenges. They are always learning, reading books and articles, taking classes. They understand the world is growing at an incredibly fast pace and if you aren’t keeping up, you’re falling behind. They understand continuous self-education is a key to their success.

At the end of the day, I’d say I fall into both of these categories. While I’m more than willing to be an order taker if that’s all I think an opportunity offers, my best work is done when I’m working to solve a problem. That’s when the creative juices kick in, when I’m most enthusiastic and when my customers understand I’m there to help them with their challenges and to help make them look good.

The need for problem solvers is at an all-time high as the world grows more and more complex. If you learn all you can, go beyond the obvious, be creative and don’t whine, chances are you will be successful beyond your wildest dreams and help others along the way.

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