Solution Selling— Tried and True Approach for the Trusted Advisor

“Marty” (not his real name) was a dedicated sales person. He towed the company line, followed up on every sales lead, and understood the company business objectives. Marty talked with customers & prospects any time an opportunity presents itself. He recited his company’s value proposition to all who would listen. He shared industry accomplishments and boasted about the awards his company has received. Yet, Marty did not close sales.

Industry research shows that 8% of professional sales people close 80% of the sales. Unfortunately, Marty was not part of the 8%.

WHY IS SOLUTION SELLING EFFECTIVE?

The philosophy behind Solution Selling maintains each customer as the focal point. As a “trusted advisor”, you help the customer solve their business problems and achieve positive, measurable results. To solve a customer’s problem, it is imperative to map a detailed course with an end-to-end methodology. This includes a combination of data, strategy, and reference stories that will help navigate the selling process to close sales faster.

TRUE STORY (excerpt)

…the Vice President asked me “How are you going to do to fix this inside sales team”? Before I could answer the question, I needed to understand the problem and determine what was broken.

According to several senior executives, the inside sales team was hemorrhaging company dollars without providing any demonstrated results. I asked “why”? To my surprise, I found out that the inside sales team did not have direct leadership. Instead, the marketing department oversaw them and provided the following strategy; follow up on marketing campaigns. I thought, no wonder the team is hemorrhaging company money; they are “dialing for dollars”. Now, if you are scratching your head wondering what the inside sales team was chartered with, join the club.

HOW WAS I GOING TO FIX THE PROBLEM?

Understanding the challenge ahead, I evaluated the effectiveness of the inside sales team and analyzed the sales strategy in place. I questioned how these strategies aligned with the business model and ROI requirements. It became evident that a sales process and foundation needed to be put in place. This also was my answer to the question, “how was I going to fix this inside sales team”?

WHAT WOULD THE FOUNDATION BE?

Solution Selling was the foundation, which consisted of four primary components in the sales process:

A. Philosophy

B. Roadmap

C. Methodology

D. Management System

Solution Selling is a process of continuous discovery. It involves a series of defined, repeatable steps, otherwise known as a roadmap. Each step in the process enables the sales professional to:

A. Determine each stage that leads to a higher probability of success.

B. Measure the selling process at an opportunity level.

C. Predict and validate revenue attainment.

D. Manage customer’s expectations, improving overall customer satisfaction.

E. Produce verifiable outcomes.

Solution Selling also enables the sales person to elevate his/her role from a perceived expert to a “trusted advisor”. To become a “trusted advisor”, embrace these crucial rules:

1. Customer is always the focal point.

2. Address the customer’s issues.

3. Demonstrate a strong understanding of the customer’s business.

4. Define the customer’s buying process.

5. Share relevant reference stories.

If you already are a “trusted advisor”, congratulations! For everyone else, follow a Solution Selling methodology and close more deals.

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