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In Module 2 Chapter 4 we mentioned that customers’ buy solutions not products or services.

Solution or Consultative based selling is a sales methodology. Rather than just promoting an existing product, the salesperson focuses on the customer’s problems and addresses the issue with appropriate offerings (product and services). The problem resolution is what constitutes a “solution”.

“The Pitch” In Today’s Environment

The modern buyer is more informed than ever before and will have completed a vast majority of the “buyer’s journey” online before any interaction with the sales rep takes place.

In the past sales reps represented the primary source of information on product features, advantages and benefits. Sales reps were able to base their pitches around the unique aspects of their product.

Here are 7 steps on how to develop a solution-based sales process.

    1. Prepare – Solution selling requires a certain amount of preparation and research on the part of the sales rep. To address the issues that concern the modern buyer, the sales rep should use the lead intelligence that your company has gathered. Consider factors like company size, pages visited on your site, and social media behavior. These actions on the part of the buyer can help the sales team to understand the particular problem that your solution can address.With more informed buyers, solution-based selling requires more informed sales reps. By arming themselves with lead intelligence data, solution sales reps are best placed to address the buyer’s needs.

      The solution sales rep should also couple this lead intelligence with some quick pre-sales call research on the lead and their company. Spend no more than five minutes perusing the lead’s company website as well as their LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to find out basic information like company size, product offerings etc. as well the lead’s role within the organization.

    2. Diagnose Customer Needs – Solutions selling requires a thorough understanding of the buyer’s chief concerns and pain points. One way sales reps can diagnose the customer’s needs is by asking open-ended questions throughout the sales call. By patiently probing the buyer on the weaknesses they want to address, the solution sales rep can start to uncover their goals and a potential timeline for meeting these goals.By patiently talking through these concerns, the solutions sales rep is also able to earn the buyer’s trust. In addition to diagnosing customer needs, these questions can also help to clarify the buyer’s role within the organization as well as their level of authority.

      The solutions sales rep should also spend a large part of the sales call actively listening to the buyer. Documenting important information that the buyer shares can help you to craft a solution that matches the buyer’s needs.

    3. Qualify – Ensure you are not spending your time with unqualified leads. Solution selling requires a considerable time investment. If a lead stops responding to emails or is inattentive during a sales meeting perhaps it is time to ask some challenging questions. Ask the lead what they would like to get out of the sales meeting. If the lead is disinterested or is already decided on a rival solution it might not be worth the time investment.While it is not ideal to lose out on a lead, it is worse to waste valuable time on an under-qualified lead or a lead that is not a suitable fit for your product.
    4. Educate The Buyer With New Ideas And Perspectives – The next step in the solution selling process is to take advantage of teaching opportunities on the sales call. Instead of teaching the buyer about your product or service, the solution sales rep should add value to the sales call by providing insights into the buyer’s business and the industry.The solution selling methodology requires considerable knowledge and expertise on the part of the sales rep. By assuming a teaching role, the solution sales rep becomes a trusted partner in a collaborative process. The sales rep must however ensure that their expertise is not wasted on an unqualified lead. It is important that the solution sales rep provides unique insights that help move the buyer through the sales process.
    5. Craft A Solution – Once the customer’s needs are fully understood it is time to develop a solution. The solution sales rep draws clear parallels between customer needs and the proposed solution.One trick here is leverage the buyer’s own language to present your solution. Chances are the buyer won’t reject a solution put forward that directly addresses the pain points they put forward. Explain to the buyer how your product can reduce inefficiencies, increase revenue, and alleviate their pain points.
    6. Demonstrate the Return on Investment (ROI) – Unless your solution comes with proven ROI it might not have the desired effect. The solution selling model requires the seller to be able to communicate the value of the product to lower the buyer’s perception of risk as well as differentiating your offering form those of your rivals.One way the solutions sales rep can demonstrate the ROI of your product is by presenting the buyer with a case study of a similar company that successfully implemented your solution.

7.  Close – Having invested your time in qualified leads, the next step in the solutions sales process is to close the deal. Having invested your time solely in qualified leads, the solution sales rep should be able to close the deal having demonstrated the ROI of your product as well as how it directly addresses the buyer’s chief concerns. Remember to associate the customer’s pain points into the ROI analysis.

If there are any last minute hiccups in the deal or if the buyer pushes back, one technique to help close the deal might be to question the buyer about the consequences of not buying your solution.

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