In today’s increasingly competitive market you have to do something different to stay ahead of the competition.
If companies are to survive the economic downturn they need to take their sales proposition to the next stage; beyond price discount selling. Solution selling is seen as the answer by many – but is it? Often companies invest a lot of time and money in developing complex solutions. But, if they don’t get the buy-in or understanding of their sales force, what they actually get are great ideas that don’t get delivered. The impact on revenue is negligible and the cost can be high.
So what do we mean by solution selling?
Some of the answer lies in what the customer wants. Today customers want more than just sales people with a good working knowledge of the capabilities necessary to help them solve their problems. They want to do business with salespeople who understand them— their job and their problems. So everything you do in the sales chain needs to be based on helping your customers solve their business problems and achieve positive, measurable results. Cathy Bennett of Vertical has found that developing a good relationship with customers and becoming an integral part of their business is the best way to deliver results to them.
So, understanding what customers want helps us to identify what a solution needs to do. Simply put; it’s a response to a Customer’s need that will deliver a return on investment and/or save costs. So your solution needs to answer a problem of theirs that they recognise and acknowledge too. To uncover those problems Cathy Bennett says ‘I would recommend that you just try to understand what their main challenges and opportunities are rather than find out what they need from the product range you’ve got available.’ That done, it’s important that the customer agrees on the answer to the problem that your Sales Person selects and (most importantly) that the answer provides measurable improvement to the customer. So in summary, a solution is a mutually shared answer to a recognised problem, and that answer provides measurable improvement. But remember – the measurable improvement needs to be real for them. With a recent project on Energy Solutions Cathy Bennett was at pains to ensure that the sales force saw that it wasn’t the 30% savings that counted but the 300k saving off the customer’s £1m energy bill.
Developing your solutions should be based around a feature, advantage, benefit analysis of your range of products and services. This is where you can start to close the loop of having both a robust solutions offering and one that your sales force understands and can deliver. ‘I find that the best way to get the sales force to buy-in to and understand the solutions proposition is to get a cross section of people across the business involved. Let’s face it they are the ones who are out there every day in real time situations selling against the competition in an increasingly price driven market.’
The last part of the puzzle is training. Invest in a programme that focuses on giving your sales force the ability to:
- Identify the customer’s problems
- Reach agreement with them on what is the right answer.
- Demonstrate how the right answer delivers measurable improvement to them and their business.
Then, when you launch your solutions offering, you will actually be in a position to deliver results to your Customers’ bottom line and at the same time to your own!
If you’d like to hear more about making this happen in your organisation contact Cathy Bennett on +44 (0)7885 030022 or email me at email@example.com