Odds are that you’ve likely heard of solution selling – heck, it may even be your strategy of choice. If you’re not in the know, solution selling is a sales methodology that rose in popularity during the 1980s. The formula is pretty basic. The salesperson diagnoses the needs of their prospect, then recommends the best products and/or services to fill those needs.
The prospect may not even know that they have a problem or opportunity, let alone understand what it looks like, how urgent it is, and how they should address it. This makes the salesperson a valuable asset. Not only can they help the prospect understand their situation, but they can also help them react to it.
When is Solution Selling Employed?
Solution selling is a prime option for industries with highly customized products and/or packages. For instance, a company that offers a cloud storage platform with maintenance and security services will likely create a unique combo for each of its customers. The salesperson will figure out how much data their prospect needs, how many devices they’ll access files from, and so on.
Getting Started with Solution Selling
Here is a 3-step plan that will help you get the ball rolling with solution selling:
1.) Identify Common Pain Points
Figuring out your customers’ core pain points is arguably the most important part of the process. If you lack this information, you cannot effectively target prospects or even present your solution.
Analyzing your ‘won’ deals and taking note of which problems prompted prospects to buy your product is essential. Ask them, “what factored into your decision to work with us?” and “When did you decide to solve problem-X, and why?”
2.) Develop Your Questions
Once you’ve identified the most pressing problems that your products solve, develop a series of questions that’ll help you diagnose prospect problems. Having the right questions prepared means that you’ll spend more of your sales conversation focused on the buyer and their company than your product or its features.
You should start with open-ended questions that delve into relevant elements of your prospect’s business. From there you want to narrow your focus. You’re looking for specific facts and figures that will help you build a case for your solution.
3.) Practice Selling Value
Solution selling has proven effective because it focuses on the ROI of a product, not its feature set or sticker price. Whether you’re a sales manager or an individual salesperson, make sure you truly understand and can demonstrate your product’s value.
Here are a few questions you should consider:
- How is life easier with your product? Which challenges or tasks are eliminated or reduced?
- Does the product save time? If so, how much? What could they accomplish in those minutes, hours, or days?
- Does your product save money? If so, how much? What could they accomplish with the money they save?
- How does your product influence others’ perceptions of your prospect? Do they look more credible, important, effective, or successful?
- What’s the impact on your prospect’s bottom line one month after buying your product? Six months? A year?
Practice highlighting the answers to these questions to your prospects.
The Solution Selling Sales Process
“Solution selling” is a broadly applied term these days. However, salespeople using this methodology typically follow this sales process:
- Prospect: Look for a buyer with a problem your product solves.
- Qualify: Understand the decision-making unit (DMU).
- Discovery: Diagnose the buyer’s needs.
- Add Value: Develop a customer champion; gain access to key decision-makers.
- Present: Share a custom solution; demonstrate its ROI.
- Close: Come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Solution Selling Questions
In order to accurately diagnose your prospect’s pain points, you need the right questions. There are three main goals to this stage and they typically occur during the discovery call:
- Identify the Cause: Which factors are the root of the problem for the buyer’s pain? How are they ranked in terms of importance and overall impact?
- Calculate the Magnitude: How is this pain impacting your prospect, their team, other departments, and/or the entire company?
- Get Buy-In: Measure the buyer’s interest in life with your product. Are they excited about the solution you can provide?