It seems as though everyone in the world says they use solution selling these days. Whether they do everything for a customer or just one thing, they view their offering as a solution and they believe it meets a need; thus, they are giving customers' solutions. The million-dollar question is, What are they solving for?
The firms that are truly doing solution selling do one thing better than those that don’t … they LISTEN.
To provide a solution, you have to understand the problem first. You have to uncover the pain and dig until you really understand the problem that causes that pain. In my consulting days, we used to call it the "5 Whys." You ask the question, "why," five times in a row to reach the true issue you must solve for.
I find that the best solution-salespeople spend the first hour or more listening and digging. In a great sales process, you create an environment where you listen and dig in a very unassuming way. Just the customer and the sales consultant—no engineers or influencers in the room. You get the customers talking about what they want to talk about and what you want them to talk about with one purpose, to uncover all of their pain and what they think causes it. Only then can you start deriving the solution.
Once you have the pain and what the customer thinks causes it, you can step back and assess your product and service offerings to see if there is a fit. If you have it, present it! If you have some but not all, identify partners and present a true solution to the customer’s issues. What customers really want is peace of mind when it comes to their technology—they want to know it is secure and they want it to work. All too often, we focus on the whiz-bang features of the day and forget the simple fact that they really don’t care unless it makes a difference to them.
So, to really ramp sales, ask yourself if you truly understand your customers' pain and what they are really looking for before you even think about what you can do for them. Let your competitors "enjoy" losing after they have invested hours and hours telling the customers about themselves and all the cool things they do. Be a true solution seller and present a solution that meets their needs, and you will win much more than you lose!
This post was written by Terry Heddon, CEO of Cloud Guru. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly, and are part of Talkin' Cloud's annual platinum sponsorship.