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What Is Solution Selling?

Solution Selling is a comprehensive, end-to-end sales system. It is a widely used sales execution methodology for winning sales opportunities that involve direct contact with buyers. The core sales philosophy behind solution selling is the focus should always be on helping customers solve their business problems and achieve positive, measurable results.

Solution Selling vs. Consultative Selling

Consultative selling is primarily focused on the dialogue that happens between buyers and sellers.  It prioritizes facilitating an open-ended dialogue. This approach differs from solution selling in that the conversation does not begin with a specific challenge in mind.  It is less rigid in its structure because the seller assumes a more consultative role by helping the buyer define their challenges throughout the course of the conversation.

The savviest of sales professionals possess the skills to agilely engage their clients in either type of conversation by ascertaining which approach is more appropriate for the buyer’s specific situation. If the sales professional finds the buyer does not have a clear understanding of their primary challenge then a consultative conversation is required before the focus of the dialogue can shift to evaluating potential solutions.  Conversely, if the buyer enters the conversation with a clear and robust definition of their challenge a more direct solution sales approach is more appropriate.

Solution Selling vs. Value Selling

Value selling focuses on the features of a specific product or solution.  In value selling, the product is the focus rather than the customer. The value selling is much more of a “push” approach where the seller focused on how the organization can take advantage of the benefits of a product or solution rather than how the product or solution is the answer to a specific challenge.

Value selling is more transactional than solution selling or consultative selling.  It has a place in a seller’s world but should be used carefully because it is often the case that the value the seller attributes to the product or solution is not actually beneficial to the buyer. Without engaging in a thorough discovery conversation, sellers could miss out on important information that could otherwise help them more effectively position their solution.

The Importance of Solution Selling

Solution Selling enables sales professionals to collaborate effectively with modern buyers. It supports buyers and sellers bringing their ideas and perspectives together using a transparent and commonly understood structure, in shared physical or virtual space, to solve mutually recognized problems or to benefit from identified opportunities and create measurable value.

Solution Selling enables salespeople to compete effectively and thrive in modern markets. It enables sales organizations to provide differentiating value for commercial organizations, and therefore, to become a competitive advantage in the market.

The Solution Selling methodology enables sales teams to:

    • Increase the number of qualified opportunities in sales pipelines
    • Increase the size of sales opportunities
    • Increase the rate of winning sales opportunities
    • Decrease average sales cycle duration
    • Improve sales forecast accuracy

Understanding the Solution Selling Methodology

The Solution Selling methodology employs tools, job aids, techniques, and procedures to deliver higher levels of customer satisfaction and increased seller productivity.

Solution Selling is a modular methodology: each module includes effective methods, tools, and skills. These modules and corresponding tools are:

    1. Buying Process and Sales Alignment
    2. Pre-call Planning and Demand Creation
    3. Opening and Positioning the Meeting
    4. Consultative Sales Conversations
    5. Qualifying Sponsorship and Setting Up Next Steps
    6. Managing Buyer Evaluation and Proof of Value
    7. Final Negotiations

Solution Selling Modules

Here, we explore each of the modules that make up the Solution Selling methodology in greater detail.

Buying Process and Sales Alignment

Solution Selling is anchored to a dynamic, buyer-aligned sales process, which includes buyer evaluation and purchasing steps, aligning seller steps, and verifiable outcomes that indicate alignment with buyers based on their behavior.

Richardson Sales Performance’s Solution Selling training program teaches sellers three core models and processes that result in an effective buyer-aligned process that accounts for the varying concerns of customers as they progress through the stages of a purchase evaluation and decision. Those models are:

        • Buyer Behavioral Psychology Model
        • Dynamic Buyer-aligned Sales Process
        • Situational Fluency Model

Pre-call Planning and Demand Creation

The pre-call planning and demand creation module includes methods and tools for prospect account research and stimulating buyer interest and curiosity, including:

        • Personal Brand Definition
        • Key Player List
        • Pain Chain (analysis of organizational interdependence of business issues)
        • Target Account Profile
        • Messaging Templates: Pain Theme, Results Story Theme, Initial Value Proposition Theme

Opening and Positioning the Meeting

The opening and positioning the meeting module includes methods and tools for preparing for an effective sales conversation, including:

        • Differentiation Grid
        • Sales Conversation Prompter
        • Buyer-aligned Sales Conversation Model

Consultative Sales Conversations

Consultative selling skills, methods, and tools empower sellers to execute effective sales conversations that align with different buyer scenarios, including:

        • Vision Creation Sales Conversation
        • Vision Re-engineering Sales Conversation
        • Vision Enhancement Sales Conversation

Qualifying Sponsorship and Setting Up Next Steps

The qualifying sponsorship and setting up next steps module includes methods and tools for identifying buyer sponsorship, uncovering solution evaluation criteria, gaining access to buyers with power (influence and authority), and collaborating on next steps using:

        • Buyer Communication email (for Sponsor and Power Sponsor)
        • Collaboration Plan

Managing Buyer Evaluation and Proof of Value

The managing buyer evaluation and proof of value module includes methods and tools for guiding a buyer through an evaluation process, mitigating buyer risks, and determining and communicating solution value. Tools included in this module are:

        • Go/No-Go Step Completion email
        • Transition Plan
        • Value Analysis
        • Success Criteria

Final Negotiations

The final module focuses on methods and tools for negotiating and closing a sales opportunity. The tool associated with this module is a negotiation worksheet.

Solution Selling’s modular design and provision of practical tools makes it easy to learn and apply with a high degree of quality and consistency.