Lots of people want to sell solutions instead of products.

The trick is to actually have your prospect agree that he is being sold a solution, and not just a product.

The essential difference between selling a solution and selling a product is that a solution solves a problem.

You can’t sell a solution to a prospect, if he doesn’t have a problem that the solution will solve!

To sell solutions, you must start by looking for problems.

Effective solution selling is all about thorough problem discovery and problem analysis – before you spend any time talking about your products.

In probing for problems, hearing from the prospect that they want to buy a widget like yours, or that they want a specific capability that your widgets have is NOT uncovering a problem.

A problem is “We can’t bottle beer fast enough to get it out to our distributors”.

That’s what you are looking for.

If instead you hear “We want a new bottle capping machine that caps 1000 cases an hour”, they are giving you their solution to the problem that they have already come up with.

You don’t want that.

You need to find out the underlying problem that led them to this solution in the first place.

Once you get that you have something you maybe can sell to.

Maybe, because the underlying root problem must be one that you can solve with your products.

If it is, then find out the effects of the problem.

What’s happening to the business because they can’t get beer bottled fast enough to get to their distributors? Losing money? Losing market share? Overworked employees?

You need to probe for problems and their effects with all the people who could possibly be impacted by this. The more people you talk with, the more problems and effects you will uncover.

Once you have done a thorough problem discovery and analysis, you are in a position to “sell a solution”.

By knowing the problem and its effects, you will know how to justify the costs of buying your products to solve the problem. You can show specific ways that this particular prospect will gain by solving their problem, instead of merely talking about “potential benefits” (like product pushers do).

Most sales people don’t do a very thorough job finding, analyzing and understanding their customer’s problems.

Most sales people look for prospects who say “I want a new bottle capper.” Then they go push product and think they are selling a solution.

When you do the in depth problem work, your prospects feel incredibly understood and cared for. They reciprocate by giving you more access to people and decision-makers, and more information that you need to win.

People want to buy from people who care about them and help them. That’s what true solution selling is all about.

Sell with Pride,

Shameless Shamus Brown

P.S. You can learn my complete system for selling solutions and double or triple your closing rate.