Not getting the response you need from your marketing materials? Are prospects a little bored during your pitch? Need to revitalize your sales efforts? If the answer is yes to any or all of these, you have a marketing problem. What you need is a solution. Which is probably why you clicked on this story – you’re hoping it will provide one. And it will. In fact, it already has.
Where?!? Right in the headline and first paragraph.
This story offers a successful example of how to attract potential customers to your business. How? By offering a solution to a problem – in this case, your sales and marketing concerns. In other words, you have a problem, and the story promised a solution. Intrigued by that promise, you clicked, eager to learn more.
That’s called solution selling. It differs greatly from traditional selling techniques in that it focuses on solutions to problems rather than product features and benefits. If you’re having problems attracting and keeping prospect’s attention, it might not be that your product isn’t any good or that it’s a bad deal versus a competitor’s. It may be that you’re just not presenting it as a solution to your prospective customer’s problem.
Take a close look at your company’s marketing materials and listen carefully to your staff’s sales pitch. What is the focus? Is it on your product or the service? Are you simply describing a widget and explaining why your widget (or whatever you offer) is better than that of the outfit next door? Or are you presenting yourself as a company that can help your customers do something better and achieve greater success with your help?
In today’s market, no matter the industry, if you’re engaging in the former, your prospects may be seeing you simply as a salesperson pushing a product or a service to gain a commission. People and businesses want solutions. They want help, guidance, and advice. And most of all, they want it from a company they can trust. Prospects want to do business with someone who is going to be there when they need them, not just when it’s time for a commission but also improve your ROI.
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Clearly, this type of sales technique lengthens the sales process. And it calls for good relationship-building skills. In order to offer a solution to a prospective customer, a vendor must first be able to recognize a problem. With no problem, there can be no solution. And, believe it or not, not all clients realize they have a problem; they may think they have a different problem, or they get they have one but don’t fully comprehend its magnitude. This requires a strong understanding of a client’s business as well as their unique wants and needs. Only through listening and understanding can vendor and client craft a specific, workable, and affordable solution that helps the client and is profitable to the vendor. So a company employing solution selling must be nimble, flexible, innovative, patient, committed to customer service, and ready and able to deliver.
Solution selling is definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
Here are a few tips to help you switch from features-and-benefits selling to solution selling:
Get rid of the sales pitch – Instead of opening a presentation or conversation by focusing on your product or service, use this time instead to start a dialogue with a prospect. Learn about their issues and troubles and discover their wants and needs. Position yourself not as a salesperson but a trusted advisor.
Have a conversation, not a presentation – You’ve no doubt heard the phrase “Show, don’t tell.” Change that now to “dialogue, not monologue.” In other words, if you’re doing all the talking, you’re doing it wrong. To successfully engage in solution selling, you and your prospect should have a back-and-forth discussion with each party having equal time to ask questions, make points, and offer answers.
Focus on facts, not hype – No one likes high-pressure tactics. And most people recognize a put-on. In today’s sales environment, the more smoke you blow, the less the prospect will believe there’s actually any fire or substance. Instead, they’ll think you’re trying to hoodwink them, and they’ll walk away. Instead, present yourself as someone who understands the problems the prospect faces and who has the expertise and know-how to help them resolve them.
Concentrate only on what matters most to the prospect – One of solution selling’s biggest challenges is the natural urge to show a prospect everything you can do to help them. Don’t do that. That can be overwhelming to the prospect. You don’t need a hammer to change a light bulb. Bring only the tools you need. Tailor your approach and limit your discussion to only those solutions that matter most to the prospect. That will keep the conversation simple, focused, and demonstrate your understanding of the client’s unique wants and needs.
Illustrate value – Price matters! There’s no getting around that, right? Actually, there is. When you show a prospect how your proposed solution can impact them for the better – such as by optimizing their workflow, by improving their accuracy, etc. – you’re helping them realize that you’re providing something beyond a mere quoted price they pay today. You’re providing something of value that is going to have a lasting positive effect on their organization for years to come.
Follow up, follow up, follow up – Let’s be honest … as mentioned before, solution selling is a lengthier sales process. It takes more time, but the rewards are greater when you successfully close a deal. Why? When you’ve built a client-vendor relationship based on trust, you’ve probably earned a long-term client who is more likely to do repeat business with you instead of a one-time sale. To ensure that happens, communication and follow-up are crucial. Keep the lines open. Even if no business is taking place, follow up with the client to see how things are going. Again, this shows you’re not just a salesperson looking for a commission. Instead, you’re a solution provider for Marketing problems who will be there when the client needs you.
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