Last Updated: March 17, 2016
What is Solution Selling?
Solution selling is a sales methodology that focuses on the buyer’s need rather than specific product features or benefits. The solution seller identifies buyer pain points and explains how they can be resolved with the seller’s product or service. One solution selling definition provided by Keith M. Eades, author of The New Solution Selling, states that solution selling is a mutually shared answer between buyer and seller to a recognized problem, and the answer provides measurable improvement.
Solution selling concerns the well informed customer working with solution providers who have earned their trust. The solution seller must identify the precise buyer need which their product or service can address. This step may involve educating the buyer who may not initially realize where their needs lie. The solution seller must be well researched, ask probing questions, and present buyers with value-adding sales content to help identify buyer needs. Once the need has been identified, the solution selling technique requires the rep to ring the proposed solution or resolution to the table.
Why is Solution Selling Important?
The modern buyer is more knowledgable and well-researched than ever before. The buyer now completes as much as 57% of the purchase decision before even engaging the rep. As a result, the sales rep has had to shift the emphasis on to customer wants and needs rather than stressing product benefits and features.
The solution seller can speak to the modern buyer by assuming the role of an enduring resource – a trusted knowledge professional with valuable information about buyer needs and industry pain points. Selling solutions requires considerable research and knowledge on the part of the sales rep. The onus is on the organization to ensure solution sellers are equipped with the best and most relevant information that can add value to the sales call.
The solution sales rep focuses on three questions the what, the which, and the why. By working through these key areas, the sales rep can enhance the customer’s understanding of their own pain points and how they can be resolved. The solution seller must work hard throughout the sales process to earn and maintain the trust of the buyer. This trust can be achieved as the rep continues to add value to the sales call.
Solution Selling Best Practices
- The best reps combine solution selling with insights. In order to gain credibility in the eyes of the buyer, the solutions sales rep must introduce content and data that adds value to the sales call. These insights also help to earn the buyer’s trust adding a sense of legitimacy to the solutions put forward.
- Ask good questions. The successful solutions seller remains sensitive to the buyer’s needs and asks important questions at the right moment. Buyers will be keen to learn but they will also want to spend time covering the areas that most concern them. The solution seller must help the buyer to talk through these problems before putting forward a resolution.
- Listen actively. Solution selling requires considerable understanding of the buyer’s needs which will only come from listening attentively. Solution sellers should actively listen as the buyer details their organizational needs taking notes and asking considerate questions in the process. Solution selling techniques require an acute awareness of the level of buyer tone, pitch, and level of enthusiasm during the sales call.
- Offer guidance. Solution sellers must guide the buyer towards the solution being offered. This guidance comes as the solution seller adopts something of a teaching role, helping the buyer to overcome business challenges by utilizing their deep knowledge of industry pain points and trends. The solution seller must strike a balance between helping the buyer understand their challenges and guiding the buyer towards the solution.
Useful Solution Selling Links
Written by Cóbhan Phillipson