Stop Selling Boxes. Sell Solutions.
We all live by selling something in one form or another. One may be directly selling a product while another may be offering a service. Even if you’re only working as a consultant who offers valued advice, or working full-time as skilled manpower – you’re still selling your skills, talent or wisdom.
Your customers – your buyers – are people or companies who have a need for what you are selling. It all boils down to the basic concept that if you have what people need, they will buy.
Many sales-oriented organizations, however, have forgotten or have completely misunderstood what this basic concept entailed. Most are focused only on how great their products are, or how topnotch their services can be.
Most resorted to the traditional sales norm of simply “pushing boxes” and get as much profit as they can. As long as customers continue to buy and pay for products or services – all is well in a sales world’s so well.
But in these times of ease in connectivity, technological advancements and getting information, customers are changing the way they look at products or services. They now look beyond these “boxes” and opt for solutions that can give them what they really need – solutions that can alleviate their “pain”.
As a business consultant, I am telling you that it’s about time to transform your team’s sales approach and have a deeper and genuine relationship with your customers. Go beyond simply selling and move towards giving real value to your clients.
Stop selling boxes. It’s time to stop pushing products and start selling solutions.
The Concept of Selling Solutions
Solution selling means diagnosing and knowing your client’s underlying business problems, their pain points, and then identifying the exact solution that will address their needs perfectly. Emphasis is on understanding the customer’s requirements and analysing every aspect thoroughly first before even recommending a product or a service that can address these requirements.
The concept of Solution Selling is actually not new as it has already taken root back in the 1980s when the first batches of Value-Added Resellers entered the market. During this period, VARs offered end-to-end turnkey solutions where products were bundled with professional services, business consulting services, implementation, and customisation services.
It was a stark contrast from the common sales notion of “box pushing” where products or services were pushed to the customers regardless of their business context or underlying concerns. In solution selling, the actual product was just part of the solution. Other key components were bundled to address all aspects related to the client’s business concern.
Such method of selling that involves understanding your client’s pain points first resulted in genuine connections with key personnel and decision makers. This will then further lead to even longer-lasting and deeper relationships with the customer.
Understanding Your Customer’s Pain Points
Just like a doctor trying to diagnose and analyse what ails a patient, salespeople should also undergo a diagnostic process to help them identify and understand the pain points of their clients. As a business management consultant, I understand that there may be different ways or process steps to execute this.
A diagnostic framework can be developed but the specifics will depend on your particular industry and market. The basics of a good diagnostic model can be summarised into the following:
- Perform diagnostic questioning – This involves a consultative conversation with the client using open-ended, control and confirming questions that will solicit various kinds of specific answers that can further help you understand the needs and pain points of your client.
- Information Analysis – Here, you need to analyze and understand the reason for these pain points, as well as the scope and impact of these pain points
- Visualize Possible Solutions – At this point, you can now attempt to visualize a potential solution to address these pain points. You can look into existing products or services in your portfolio, or integrate with other solutions to formulate a turnkey offer
Key Points in Solution Selling
Drop the “pushing products” habit as it’s now time for the shift towards solution selling. This may seem like a daunting task at first, but as your business strategy consultant, I can share with you the following key points to help jumpstart your solution selling journey.
Train your people. Change their Mindset.
Before you can even make those first few critical steps towards a paradigm shift in your sales strategies, you need to undergo a transformation within your organization. To undergo these changes, you need to change their mindset and you can achieve this with proper training.
As a business coach, I’ve always emphasised the value of properly equipping your sales team with skills and expertise to help them address the issues and challenges in solution selling. They need to transform from being mere salespeople to being sales liaisons and customer service experts.
Embracing this customer-focused ideology, your team will have the natural ability to anticipate your customers’ needs, be sensitive to their pain points, and deliver the right solution that can alleviate these pain points.
The journey towards solution selling requires everyone to be on board – from top management to your supply chain network. Your organization must be open to changes and you must be ready to break down archaic strongholds that will try to hold on to obsolete sales strategies and systems.
Engage, Inform and Educate
Transformation towards solution selling does not only involve the members of your organization, but your clients as well. They need to understand that you are there not to sell them mere “boxes” but a whole solution set instead. Let them understand that you are there not to solve mere symptoms, but are directly addressing the root cause of their problems.
Develop Turnkey Solutions
Box selling has the tendency of focusing too much on the intrinsic features of products instead of analysing and emphasising how these features can address a specific customer pain point. Again you are gunning for the root cause of their problems with turnkey solutions, instead of addressing symptoms with mere Band-Aids.
Highlight Your Solution’s Advantage Over Mere “Boxes”
When positioning your solution offerings, you need to highlight what your solutions can address and go beyond the limits of what mere products in “boxes” can ever achieve. Pitch using quantitative measurements and comparisons.
Stimulate Your Client’s Imagination with New Perspectives
What better way to help clients understand how they can benefit from your solutions than to provide them with practical use cases of your solutions in action. Present to them innovative ideas and ways of doing things better. Doing so would help them gain new perspectives, making them appreciate the implementation of your solutions even more.
Offer a Solid Value Proposition
Clients’ adherence to your solutions can be better fostered if you can help them understand a better value proposition. If your solution can address core issues related to revenue or business continuity, it would even be better. A solid value proposition can satisfy both your clients’ needs and their expectations, particularly when it comes to their bottom line.
As a business coach, it would be gratifying on my part to see the organizations I mentor turn out successful in delivering true value to their clients with their ideal solution offerings. I understand that embracing a solution-driven, customer-centric sales strategy can be more complex than the usual sales routes – but the rewards can be longer lasting.
So, start your solution selling journey now.
Go outside the “box”. Go beyond the “box”.