How to Ensure You Are Selling a Solution, Not a Product

Learn how sales reps can ensure they’re solving a business problem for their prospective customers. Not just selling a product.

January 31, 2017

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Are you selling a product or a solution to a business problem? The answer lies in your sales process.

Unless you’ve done the research to discover whether you’re talking to the right person, and you’ve taken the time to gain a solid understanding of the business problem that needs to be solved, you’re “product selling” by default. Which rarely works.

Why Product Selling Doesn’t Lead to Sustainable Results

When you’re selling a product, you’re regurgitating the information that is important to you—the only person in the deal with an intimate understanding of the product. When you leading with the features of your product, you ignore, albeit sometimes unintentionally, the pain points of your prospective buyer. In other words, you’re guessing at the benefits your product will ultimately provide.

Prospective buyers don’t care about a particular feature your product possesses unless it’s directly related to a problem they need solved. The more research you conduct ahead of the sales process, the quicker you’re able to attach a solution, or benefit, to your buyer’s problem.

Qualifying and Disqualifying Buyers

The first step in the research cycle is to identify your ideal buyers. The more you can gather about your leads before initiating the conversation—what are their challenges, what solutions have they already tried, what are their budgets?—the less likely you are to lead with features, because you no longer have to.

By gathering information ahead of outreach, you’re able to determine if the prospective buyer is a good fit for your services. Qualifying prospects is good for sales productivity in general – few things are more frustrating than discovering a lead isn’t compatible a month into the sales process. Especially if a simple question could have disqualified the prospect much earlier. For example, learning that the budget for solving the problem is a fraction of what your solution costs. Or that the problem is a symptom of a much larger problem that calls for a much different solution.

In researching your prospecting buyer, you decrease the chance of a sale-stopping surprise during the process. This takes time, though. Both in research and in learning what to look for. But ultimately this added vigilance is a sales productivity booster.

“Time equals revenue,” says TOPO Inc. Chief Analyst Craig Rosenberg. “You have limited opportunities to sell, so you want to spend time on the people who are more likely to respond and ultimately buy. It’s pretty simple. We spend a lot of time working on things that become nothing. Literally. Increasing your odds will increase revenue.”

Understanding the Buyer’s Process

Once you have qualified your prospect, you can focus on selling your solution. Each organization has its own way of solving problems. It’s important to remain mindful of your buyer’s process and the complexities that exist at each step. Again, this involves research.

By doing so, you’re able to supply your prospective buyers with relevant content that helps them solve the actual business problem you’ve identified. If your content isn’t aimed at a pre-identified problem, there’s a strong chance you’re contributing to information overload. That wastes everyone’s time.

Ideally, your research should allow you to anticipate actions. This way, you can escort buyers through their decision-making process as opposed to forcing them through your sales process, which can also save you valuable time.

“Research is a valuable component to buyer intelligence,” says Creation Agency’s Kevin Thomas Tully. “The use of historical sales data, including established buyer personas and data driven metrics (such as predictive analytics) to determine a buyer’s actions, may shorten the buying process.”

Through research, targeting ideal buyers, and understanding the sales process, you can ensure that your product is more than a fancy set of features – it’s a solution to a real business problem.

Discover more ways research can boost your results. Check out our eBook, How Personalized Selling Unlocks Competitive Advantage.