Solution Selling: The Complete Guide

As a paradigm shift in sales methodology, solution selling focuses on problem-solving rather than product pitching. Solution selling identifies problem areas and offers personalized solutions. The process involves analyzing the client’s circumstances, zeroing in on the pain points, and positioning the product or service as the panacea. The tactic is to offer the product or service as a viable solution rather than merely pushing the product or service. Solution selling is a layered concept with a holistic approach. Read on to know more.

Selling approach

The solution-based selling methodology is client-centric and commences with assessing client needs, which requires critical thinking. Salespeople must thoroughly research their prospective clients to better understand their clients’ requirements. It is imperative for salespeople to build a rapport with their clients. Building mutual trust and empathy is essential to the success of this approach. The salespeople must establish clear communication channels and ask relevant, open-ended questions. The clients may or may not be cognizant of the issues and hurdles they are facing or are likely to face. The sales team may hold a few brainstorming sessions and use behavioral analytics software like WatchThemLive to arrive at the issues, using the data from previous clients. The salespeople must have the knack to gauge the possible issues and lead their clients to acknowledge those issues. The sales team uses questions as the primary persuasive tool, rather than overtly attempting to sell their product or service. Once the problems are brought to light, the sales team must focus on effective problem-solving. The salespeople focus on the holistic picture rather than fixating on the features of their product or service. They help their clients comprehend the significance of the product or service in addressing the issues at hand. The sales team puts forth the long-term benefits of the product or service. The salespeople highlight aspects such as effective problem resolution, cost-effectiveness, return on investment, and associated benefits.

Sales process

Salespeople follow this sales process for solution selling:

  1. The first step is to identify prospective clients—people or businesses that will benefit from the product or service to be offered as a solution. Visitor tracking tools may be used to understand client behavior on product/service websites and identify prospective buyers. The sales team may also use an influencer marketplace like Ainfluencer to influence potential clients.
  2. The next step is to understand the decision-making unit (DMU). The salesperson must identify an advocate within a business who could help gain access to the decision-makers.
  3. The salesperson must then recognize the client’s requirements and make informed decisions toward solution selling.
  4. A tailor-made solution demonstrating benefits such as return on investment (ROI) must be rolled out.
  5. A mutually beneficial final agreement between the client and the salesperson must be reached to close the deal.

Prospective clients

The prospective clients may be of three types: the knowing client, the solution-seeking client, and the clueless client.

  1. The knowing client: The knowing client is perfectly aware of the problem, intends to solve the problem, and knows the effective solution. This client is both easy and difficult to deal with. If the salesperson has the solution the client is looking for, then the sale is smooth. If, however, the salesperson does not have the expected solution, then convincing this client to opt for an alternative solution might be an uphill task.
  2. The solution-seeking client: The solution-seeking client identifies the problem, and desires to solve it, but is clueless about the solution. The salesperson is the rescuer for this client, making this client the ideal client.
  3. The clueless client: The clueless client does not even recognize that there is a problem, so they do not entertain any advances from the salesperson. In this case, the salesperson first needs to convince the client that there is a problem. Problem-solving can occur only when the problem is created or when the client is made to recognize the problem. Product selling becomes really difficult when the client is so reluctant, so solution selling is the best approach in such cases. B2B sales consultancy is most appropriate for complex, customizable products or services. B2B sales, SaaS sales, and subscription scales, which involve long-term relationships, are most appropriate for solution selling.

Solution selling bottlenecks

Solution selling has witnessed some roadblocks with changing market trends. Businesses are now self-reliant and do not bank on salespeople for consultation and statistics. Businesses have dedicated consultants and data analytics teams to outline their own personalized solutions. Besides, salespeople are now faced with cut-throat competition and must rely on impulsive buying. More and more buyers, or prospective clients, no longer appreciate persuasive consultation services. To them, salespeople are more of a point of contact.

In Conclusion – Evolving solution selling techniques

Refuting popular claims that solution selling is now likely to die a natural death, solution selling strategy has only mutated and evolved over time. Some of the traditional solution selling techniques are now dated. With businesses becoming savvier, salespeople must now redirect their focus on identifying hidden issues and offering solutions. Simply understanding the clients’ pre-existing problems is no longer enough. Analyzing and identifying causal problems and offering effective solutions is the way forward. Salespeople must now divert their attention to “agile clients,” “mobilizers,” and businesses in a state of flux—that are predisposed to change. Tweaking the traditional solution selling techniques will help keep the solution-based selling methodology relevant and effective in the days to come.

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