Solution sales is a relatively new methodology that stems from the increasing complexity of products and services being sold today. This is especially true in large enterprise sales and customized technology platforms.
More and more companies and industries are moving to this sales model. In this internet Age when there is too much information, sales reps step in to understand the client’s needs and curate the information and solutions that’s relevant for each scenario.
This methodology emphasizes the need to start with the customers problem. It is reluctant to present a product or service until the customer pain points are known and deeply understood.
Then the sales rep returns to his team of engineers and other specialists to design a custom solution that would address the issue at hand. This discovery phase is a thorough process where the sales rep, his team and multiple buyers on the client side engage to collaborate on a solution together.
Once all of the information has been gathered around the problem, the sales rep goes back with his team to draft up a proposal. They go through a process called value engineering where they show how they will map their solution to the client’s problem.
In addition, part of the value engineering is tying the solution to real business outcomes, not just features and benefits. These solutions can cost millions of dollars and an enterprise will not adopt it unless it makes business sense.
Making a business case is a vital part of this process. Companies no longer buy solutions just to make their employee’s lives easier. They don’t even adopt things to make their customers lives easier. If the sales rep can’t show a bottom line return, it won’t get adopted no matter how wonderful the solution is.
Longer Sales Cycle
This new way of selling takes a lot more time. The sales cycles for solution selling tend to be months and even years long. On the contrary, transactional selling models look for quick closes.
The discovery phase alone can take months of coordinating meetings and gathering data. Skipping or skimping this phase can cost the sales rep the deal at worst and limit the revenue scope at best.
Multiple Decision Makers
Part of the buying process that is unlike transactional sales is that solution selling has what’s called buying committees. That means there are usually a dozen or more decision makers involved in the sale.
That is part of why it takes so long. The sales rep has to sell to each decision maker and persuade them from their perspective. The rep can’t have a static pitch for everyone because they all would have different reasons to buy.
A rep may have dozens of potential sales leads just within a single organization that they have to prospect and sell to. The rep is also navigating the corporate political dynamics within each organization as well.
Sales reps sometimes have to build a prospecting list of people within the same company. If you’re selling to a large organization like GE or Proctor and Gamble, you’ll have a buying committee and will need contact info for each one.
Instead of trying to get access to an internal directory or asking your contacts, a great way to get a list is to subscribe to a service like Infofree.com. They give you access to unlimited sales leads for one monthly subscription. Then you can lookup the people you’re looking for within each large company with ease.
Solution selling takes longer, much more complex, involves more decision makers. But in the end, it’s a lot more lucrative than the transactional selling model.