The concept of solution selling has become devalued to the point where everybody is ‘selling solutions’. See Private Eye (www.private-eye.co.uk) for some of the most extreme and ridiculous examples. In our work we have found bringing clarity to clients’ value propositions in relation to how they view solutions is hugely beneficial in making their sales messages and processes more effective.
Below is a summary to help you get your own thinking on the right track.
- The number of companies who talk about selling solutions, when in reality they are selling standard offerings wrapped in solution rhetoric. Solutions are by definition, tailored in some way, you can’t buy a real solution off the shelf.
- You don’t ‘deal’ in solutions, or do offers on them, or advertise special price promotions. Those are things you offer with packages not solutions. Solutions are sold at a premium not a discount.
- You cannot disaggregate a solution, and sell only elements of it and still call it a solution. For solution selling to have any real meaning it has to remain an integrated proposition, its constituent parts melded into a something unique to that client. The strength of a solution, why it should attract premium pricing, is because of the value of the connective, additive benefits of its elements.
- Because of the integrated nature of genuine solutions, your proposition penetrates further into the client organisation. It becomes embedded in their work-flow, their decision making and their strategy.
- Solution selling is the close twin of relationship selling. Understanding how the potential symbiosis can work between the two is a critical success generator. Using meaningful relationships to sell transactionally is a wasted opportunity. And attempting to sell solutions to people you have no effective business relationship with will flounder. See this month’s other article on relationship selling.
- Solution selling focuses on creating value for the customer first and margin/revenue for the seller second. A simple test a SalesPathways client uses to make sure the salesperson’s mind-set is correctly focused is applied when the salesperson has completed a sale and is communicating back to management. How do they frame the conversation? Is it all about size of the deal, targets hit or bonuses won? Or more about what the solution will achieve for their client. Of course the financial benefits to the seller are important, but they will be outputs of the successfully delivered solution, never the other way round. Another important benefit of this approach is it removes the risk of over-selling because sales people are always keeping in mind the client requirement.