With rapidly advancing technology today’s sales economy is becoming more and more of a buyers market. It’s more important now than ever to differentiate yourself from your competitors and prove to potential customers how you can make their life easier. Showing potential customers how you’re going to solve a problem or need of theirs versus the usual method of robotically spitting features at them will take your sales numbers to new heights.
As a business you and your sales team have to differentiate what makes your business stand apart from the competition. What solution can you highlight that you provide and others do not? With technology advancing and more information available to buyers, they want to see exactly how you can help their specific problem.
Just selling features ends up overwhelming customers who are looking for a customized solution to one problem — their problem. 90% of your features may not matter to this particular customer, but the 10% that does is the solution they are looking for. If you approach your sales in that mindset you will set yourself and your team up for success.
If you can provide an answer to a problem or issue, instead of simply promoting your product’s features, you’ll acquire new customers and keep them satisfied long-term.
70% of purchase decisions are made to solve problems? 30% make decisions to gain something.
Source: Lucid Chart
What Is Your Sales Approach?
First, let’s take a look at exactly what it is. A sales approach by definition is the step by step proposition developed by a salesperson or a company to make the process of selling more effective. An effectively and properly developed sales approach is what can differentiate an amateur salesman from a stellar salesman. As the sales process evolves, technology provides more information to consumers, and competition increases, we are seeing a shift from simply selling features to selling valuable solutions.
A solution selling process is exactly what it sounds like: selling a potential customer on a solution (your business, product, or service) that helps them personally overcome a problem. This process differs from a more traditional sales process because, instead of just pushing a product and spewing prerecorded features, the seller zeroes in on a specific issue or problem the customer's faces and presents corresponding services or products that can effectively solve that issue.
The sales approach you and your team use should clearly and quickly show how your solution can help tangibly (allowing the customer to grow revenue, volume, or market share, etc.) as well as intangibly (enhancing their competitive advantage or image, etc.)
Sell Your Solutions: Why This Is Essential
There is currently a rapid evolution in customer’s overall sophistication and product knowledge. This is courtesy of the internet (specifically review sites, videos, company chatbots, etc.) and increasing automation within technology. According to a recent research study, most customers are 85% through their purchase process before they even call a salesperson.
When you consciously invest the time to sell the value rather than price or features of your product, your customers are much closer to developing trust in you and your solution. This trust is essential in solution selling. This trust translates into a higher chance that they will make a positive buying decision in your favor, and make a stronger commitment to you in the long-run. Selling on value forges the way to long-term and highly profitable customer relationships.
The core part of determining what solutions are required is based on determining value and not the features of the product. Long gone are the days when the sales team defines the product features and benefits. In today’s sales environment, buyers are the ones who actually determine what an ideal solution is to them and the value of that solution. This makes the entire sales interaction more complex.
All of this equates to salespeople needing a wider business knowledge base, more overall industry expertise, and far greater analytical capabilities than salespeople just selling products. If you shift your mindset and behavior from robotically repeating features to offering a solution that the buyer feels was customized to their problem, you will quickly be able to quantify the advantages.
It is clear now that salespeople stand no chance if they deliver a run-of-the-mill pitch that screams you care more about earning money than finding a solution to your prospect’s problems.
Sellers who win connect—connect with people and connect the
dots between needs and solutions.
Source: Lucid Chart — Solution Selling Process Template (Click To Customize)
Strategies To Change From Promoting Your Features To Promoting Solutions:
The number one place to start when building your sales approach around solution selling is to ask great questions to uncover customer needs. This should always be done before you talk about your solution. Find the problem and then find the solution. This essentially will force you to stop selling features, which the prospect probably already knows, and start zeroing in on the benefits and solutions to the customer.
After you’ve determined the customer’s problem that needs to be solved, the next step is to sell on value. Many sales professionals say they know how to sell on value, but in reality, few know how to do this effectively. Utilizing a solution based approach means that you need to successfully identify, quantify, and most importantly prove value to the buyer. You have to carefully consider the opportunity (and your product) from the buyer’s perspective: how does their business run? What are their current business goals? What are the challenges they are encountering in reaching those goals? What are their strengths (and weaknesses) compared to their competitors? Once you understand the buyer’s business you can up your game and your sales conversation by proving the value of your solution and how that will help their situation.
Selling on value definitely takes more time but is worth it in the long run. Trust is a huge part of successful sales. Your customer has to trust you enough to let you ask questions about their business. Based on research from HubSpot, only 3% of buyers trust sales representatives. You have to break through their wall and show that you can bring value just by the process of asking the right questions. If you take the time to focus on the solutions and hone your presentation, you can make a compelling argument and offer proof of the value of your solution.
To understand how to present the value of your solution you have to understand the equation. Value = Benefits – costs.
You need to think of both tangible (easy to quantify like “increased revenue”) and intangible (difficult to quantify like “enhanced image”) benefits. Then, consider all the costs the customer can and will incur by choosing or NOT choosing your solution. You can’t look at the price of your solution as the only factor. To calculate costs you have to think like the buyers because buyers consider all forms of cost when making a purchase decision. This includes the total cost of ownership over time, training, cost of changing to your product, opportunity costs and time to market. If you think that discounting your price is the best option for making a sale without first considering all the other costs and how they relate to your solution, you are sure to fail. When you take the time to gain a more in-depth understanding of which of the costs are important to this particular buyer you will be better positioned to present the overall value of your solution.
Robotically reciting a long list of features won’t do any good for your prospect unless you can present how these features will help their business specifically. When you make a presentation to a prospect, you need to make it interactive so they feel like your product was made for them. Ask questions. Use those answers to form a comprehensive solution (using the appropriate features) that corresponds to their needs.
Here are some good tips to help you kick your solution based selling presentation to the next level:
Use customized visuals. The human brain processes a visual image 60,000 times faster than a written text.
Don’t focus only on statistics. This can guarantee you lose half of the prospects you target. Tell stories about your products. Especially stories that relate to this prospect's problem. You want to try to show the customer how you have already solved a very similar problem they are currently facing.
Finish with a bang. People naturally retain mainly the very beginning and very end of a presentation. The 5 last minutes of your presentation should be where you shine, and also where you clearly outline how you can provide the solution your prospect is looking for.
Source: Sales Readiness Group
To Wrap It All Up
Utilizing a solution based sales approach extends the value delivered by your product by satisfying both needs and expectations. The solutions will always end up being some combination of products, services, and possible additions. It is no longer a seller’s market in today’s sales environment. Today, buyers are the ones who will be determining the ideal solution for them and what the value of that solution is.
It might be helpful to consider these questions when utilizing a solutions-based approach:
- How does your product make life easier? Which challenges or tasks are eliminated or reduced by the use of your product?
- How much time does the buyer save with your product? What could they accomplish in those minutes, hours, or days?
- Does your product save the buyer money? If so, how much? What could they accomplish with that amount of money still in their pocket?
- How does your product influence others’ perception of your prospect?
- Can your product help them look more relevant, credible, important, or effective?
- What impact does your product have on your prospect’s bottom line one month after buying your product? Six months? A year?
If you and your company want to increase positioning in the market and increase your bottom line, a shift to solution selling is essential. Take a look at your current sales approach and see where you can present solutions rather than a list of features. It won’t cut it just to give your salespeople some training and telling them to talk about solutions. Effectively taking the time to work together with your sales team and strategize how customers may be viewing your product in relation to their problems will take your sales to the next level.