What is Solution Selling? A Walk Through
Salespeople have been using different selling techniques in the last years. Earlier the sales process was more like a product-led approach whereas nowadays we see that teams have started using the problem led approach for selling.
You can choose the sales technique that suits your business and industry. But at the same time, sales is always a process of trial and error. There are multiple sales methodologies but none of them will give you the result immediately. For some people, SPIN selling might be the best selling technique but for someone else, it would be a disaster.
So in this article below you will learn a new technique that has shown phenomenal results in the past for B2B sales. So without goofing around, let us understand the technique of Solution selling.
History Of Solution Selling
According to Wikipedia, this sales methodology was first used by Frank Watts, in mid-1970 who worked at the Wang laboratories. Frank spent many hours developing an unusual approach to sales rather than the product led selling which was widely used back then.
This new approach that Frank found, followed a different approach rather than the usual product selling approach back then. This was called consultative selling at that time.
What Is Solution Selling?
Instead of showing the customer what the product is capable of doing, the salespeople talk about the practical problems that the customer is facing today and how their solution will help them overcome their challenges in the best possible way.
This problem led approach has been widely used in the B2B market as it serves the purpose of helping the customers and close deals at pace.
Understand The Solution Selling In 4 Easy Steps
Adapting to the process of solution selling, you don’t need to bring any major change in the current sales process. You can tweak your sales pitch in a way, where you talk more about the troubles and complications that the present product has. The idea is to be a consultant more and salesman less.
Below are the 6 steps of the sales process that are reframed for the solution selling process.
1. In-Depth Product Knowledge
It is very important for your sales reps to know every inch of the product. You never know what the customer may ask you when you talk to them on the discovery call.
The entire solution selling process is about how you touch the pain points of the customer. So if you do not know the product, you will not be able to close the customer.
To make this easy and fun, organizations advise the newly joined sales reps, to shadow their senior sales reps and listen to their sales calls. Using the conversation intelligence technology you can refine your sales process and so sales reps can now easily capture the customer phone & video calls and map them with your CRM to spot the areas of improvement.
Also, make an online knowledge base for your sales team. It can also be shared with the customers if needed. This will help sales reps to check about all the product-related options when they need it.
2. Identify The Pain Points
When the sales reps know the product in and out, they are ready to sell now. But before picking up the phone and talking to the customer, they need to identify the problems of the customer. This is not telemarketing where you pick up the phone and sell your product in minutes. The reps should have a basic idea of what the customer problems are.
When you start connecting with the prospects and discuss their problem, you come to know in general what is the basic problem that is widely causing trouble to the customers. Finding the similarities between these problems, you can identify the pain points of the customer.
When you have multiple things going on at the same time, like talking to the customer,scheduling the meetings, closing the deals, marking the deal as pending, etc, it would be better to use any of the sales CRM in the market. It will bring all your activities in one place.
3. Questions To Ask
Once you have identified the problem of the customer, you are ready to ask them the necessary questions that are needed for solution selling. Asking these questions to the customer will help you know them better. It also helps in building a new relationship and if you play your cards well, you are one step nearer in closing the deal.
There can be multiple questions that can be asked. To start with, begin with questions that will open up the customer and start talking. If they are comfortable, you can move ahead with the second set of questions.
Open-ended questions like –
“What are your goals right now for the business?”
“How has COVID affected the market for you?”
“Where do you see the current situation leading to?”
“Do you feel the industry will pick up the pace next quarter?”
The more you let the customer talk in the first stage, the better are your chances in stage 2.
Now begin the stage 2 of questioning. Here you hit the pinpoints of the customer. You apparently have made a connection during the above questions. So start with the below questions.
“How has [problem] gotten to [current state]?”
How important is [factor]?
Have you seen [factor they haven’t considered] making any impact on [problem]?
4. Educate The Prospects
Till now, the above steps are quite similar to the conventional sales process. But this is the step where the solution selling methodology starts to diverge.
When you have already discussed the problems of the customer, you now have to give a definite solution to that problem. You can also connect the dots from the above questions that you have already asked them.
Start a conversation where you know your product can be pitched. Don’t run around the bushes, start by asking a question that talks about their current problem, and then move up the conversation on how your product will solve the issues.
“Using our product, you can expect a reduction in operating costs”.
“The amount of money they will save compared to their current solution”.
“With the help of XXX, you can overcome the current bottlenecks”
5. The Final Close
It is likely that the prospect will come up with some objections. It can be pricing, integrations, freebies, discount, etc. You can make a list of such typical sales objections that you have already asked in the past and have answered them in a way that will make you the winner.
To make this easy, you can collect and record your sales activities. Be it your sales call, or demo meetings, email conversations, etc. Make use of the conversation intelligence technology for this. Pen down a list of common objections (at least 10-20 of the most common ones).
You can also listen to the remaining objections, answer those objections with benefit-driven responses, and move on to the close or next step. Take a cue from your potential client and decide whether the situation calls for a hard, direct close, or a softer, more informal close.
Always bring it back to why this customer needs your service
The success rate of the solution selling strategy depends on how you have implemented the process. It might not be the top strategy but it surely is result-driven.
The sales reps should be trained in such a way that they can understand the customer problem and can make them realize how your product can solve their problem.
The reps should also put together and show why and how your solution is the right one for the customer. When you target the pain points and ask the difficult questions, you can score the best solution through persuasion and value-adding.
The key to solution selling is giving prospects an idea of what their future will look like by picking your company. It’s up to your reps to convince them that the future they’re painting can become a reality. All they need to do is buy your product.