Solutions Based Selling

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Two people discussingSolution Based Selling

What is it and how to do it!

What is solutions-based selling?

And how do you sell a solution?

In answer, let me start with the word itself. Merriam-Webster defines the word solution as: “a. An action or process of solving a problem b: an answer to a problem…” Solutions based selling means providing answers to problems. A solution is the answer to a problem and therefore, before you can sell a solution, you have to identify a problem. If you wish to become a solutions provider and business advisor to your clients, you must first uncover the problem or problems and help educate the buyer to them.

At MTD we cover solutions based selling in our Consultative Selling Training

To uncover problems your prospective client is having, begin by examining the benefits your product or service offers. However, don’t confuse benefits with solutions. A benefit is not a solution unless it solves a problem. If you are not sure what benefits apply to the customer, then ask questions to find areas your product can help. Examine the benefits.

Start with your benefits, but don’t stop there. Instead, consider the benefit and work backwards. Ask yourself, ‘WHY is this a benefit to the customer?’, and you will immediately find the problems. As an example, let’s take a sales person who sells the latest and greatest network printers that can fax, email, and do everything but make coffee.

The prospect has a separate stand alone printer and fax machine and both work fine. What is a benefit the network printer offers? Well the sales person knows that one benefit with the networked printer is the staff can send their work to the printer and fax it instantly with the click of a mouse, right from their workstation. So, she tries to sell the benefit:

“Mr. Prospect, with this printer, your staff can send faxes right from their own workstations!” That’s nice, but there is no motivation—because there is no solution—because there is no problem. They’ve been getting along just fine without the network printer.

However, let us take this benefit and work backward; asking what makes it a benefit. Then we can identify and uncover the problem and sell a solution!

The benefit: employees can fax from their desks. WHY is that a benefit: because the staff will save a lot of time and money. First, they currently have to print hard copy of each document costing tons of money in paper and ink. Then they must leave their desks and walk over to the printer only to then go to the fax machine (which usually has a waiting line) then manually fax the document, also waiting to make sure it went through successfully. If this process takes only five minutes; multiply that by every faxed document and that by every employee and you get huge amount of money literally going to waste. Bingo! That is a BIG problem!

So you do not sell the individual benefits, instead you first uncover the problem and offer a solution! This is Sales Training 101!

“Mr. Prospect, your people spend an enormous amount of time and money by having to print hard copy and go to both machines….” If the prospect does not readily see the problem, ask more questions.

“Mr. Prospect, do you know approximately how many faxes your staff sends out everyday?” “Well, if you multiply that by five or six minutes and multiply that by the average salary…”

Once you’ve uncovered the problem, present the solution…the answer!

“Mr. Prospect, with our network printer, you solve that problem because each employee can…”

How do you sell solutions? Uncover a problem, and then present the solution to that problem, with these simple steps:

1. Examine the benefits of your product or service.

2. Figure out why those benefits are indeed benefits

3. Identify the problem at the core of the benefit

4. Educate the customer about the problem

5. Offer the solution to that problem.

Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person. Try these Sales Techniques:

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 19 February, 2008

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