This is where we are now. Selling is about buying, and the solution is about the problem.
A solid sales approach is about more than matching the customer to the product. We now look at sales process, implementation, delivery, use and all touch points as part of the problem solving.
A Subtle Change
What is the difference between Solution Selling and Problem Solving? They sound so similar.
Solution selling forced producers to approach their products with more practicality. Outcomes and clients started to compete for attention with brand and advertising dollars. Starting to better understand client’s wants and preferences, sellers went in search of those people whose problem matched their solution.
We are still doing something similar in sales, but with more creativity. You can see this in the way customer personas, feedback loops and even objection strategies have evolved.
In Search of a Problem
Instead of seeking out the ideal customer, we seek the ideal problem. An effective sales manager will train his or her people to work with all sorts of buyers – from the openly enthusiastic to the highly skeptical – focusing on the importance of product improvement with each sale.
Customers nowadays know what they want* and source their own solutions. The CEB has reported that over 60% of the sales decision has been made before any producer is even contacted.
The ideal customer has been replaced by the ideal problem: one that allows the product being sold to be maximized, tested and improved. The outcome of this relationship can only make both the buyer and seller happy and more successful.
The Perfect Problem
Sellers now search for buying people and companies who have a cultural and resource fit to the need they are selling. They strive to understand how buying decisions are made, who is involved and what they are up against.
The skeptical buyer is always the most valuable, and can only be converted through problem solving. Finding a buyer company with an open-minded skeptic and the right resources and culture to take on your solution is part of a good sales strategy.
Stick with me over the next few weeks as I discuss this evolution and ways to set yourself up as a Problem Solver for your clients. Subscribe to my newsletter to stay informed.
*for those of you skeptical of this claim, I will at a future point explain why your customer knows more than you think. Or comment below if you disagree or have questions.