Solution selling is a practice that’s been around for several decades now. Unlike some ultra-specific sales methodologies, this one is more of a general framework. However, it’s still quite effective at helping sales teams improve their close rates and create better, longer-lasting relationships with customers. That’s because it focuses on one very important aspect: the solution.
Some methodologies focus on the problem or specifically try to solve one problem or another. While that can be effective, it can sometimes be more work than is needed. Solution selling keeps things simple, starting with the fact that it can be used on all prospects, including those who know what their problems are and those who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for.
Solution selling involves analyzing the problems or pain points that each customer is having and then offering products or services that can address those issues specifically. Unlike other sales methods, those using solution selling aren’t focused on technical aspects, but on expressing how their product or service will alleviate the issues a customer faces.
It may also be presented as a way to allow customers to exploit an opportunity, which both addresses their needs and gives them something extra. Again, this is more of a generalized process, so it doesn’t have a lot of strict guidelines or practices. However, there is a typical structure to the process, which we’ll look at below.
Although every interaction and transaction will be different, solution selling typically involves the following steps:
You may find that there are other steps involved in your sales process with solution selling, or that some steps take longer than others. As long as you follow this general framework, however, you’re going to see impressive results from this customer-centric sales methodology.
Sales methodologies all have their pros and cons to consider. Before we talk about any potential concerns, though, let’s highlight the benefits of this sales process.
Personalization can add 40% more revenue to your bottom line. Instead of just selling your product or service in a one-size-fits-all manner, you’re taking a tailored approach to each sale based on the pain points of the customer. That makes a difference, and in this case, that difference can be measured in dollars.
Even when dealing with complex problems or products, solution selling allows you to simplify things and ensure that customers know what they’re getting. It saves a lot of the industry lingo and provides tangible benefits to people instead, which is what makes it effective for industries like medical technology, software development, and other similar niches.
This selling method was first seen in the 1960s. It’s still among the most common sales methods out there today, which lends to its reliability over the years. No matter what happens to the economy or the consumer, the solution method stays the same and that’s part of its beauty.
There aren’t a ton of drawbacks to this sales method, with the exception that it may require more from your sales team. However, if you’re looking to improve performance, aren’t you already requiring that anyway? Sales teams may need to perform more customer research and have the skills to analyze and empathize with customers, but these are skills that you would want to see in your best reps regardless of what selling method you settle on.
Ultimately, while solution selling may not work for every business, it does offer far more benefits than disadvantages. Plus, there have been new adaptations of the original methodology to modernize the process a bit, further reducing the potential drawbacks.
In the original method, helping the customer determine their pain points was a big part of the process. However, in the 21st century, customers are far more informed and self-sufficient and likely come in search of solutions for problems they’re already aware of. Therefore, the extra focus on finding pain points won’t be necessary because they will be obvious if not outrightly stated by the consumer.
Modern solution selling finds success in focusing on opportunities, not just leads that fit the criteria for the sale. For example, companies that focus on prospects that are undergoing major change may find it easier to sell their product or service because there’s an opportunity for reinvention. Reps that succeed with this sales method also look at companies that are quick to make decisions and have an agile framework in place.
Essentially, sales reps need to be able to take charge and form relationships with different types of people to find the advocate that can help them close the deal. It may take a little more work and the contacts today are a little less obvious than they used to be, but when you find the people who can influence decisions, you’re on the right track.
Of course, the focus of this sales methodology remains the same: providing a product or service that addresses the consumer's pain points. That’s why it works, and why it will continue to work for the foreseeable future.
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