Your Customers want you to Solve, not Sell
Being a good problem solver goes hand in hand with being a good salesperson. Rather than focusing on features and benefits, place the attention in the room on problem-solving. What are the issues, implications, and results of the offering? Features and benefits are nice, but they don't give the customer the information they need. We are living in a fast-moving information age. Customers expect answers fast and solutions to be easy. Have you ever received a message for a request for information only to find an hour later they had already solved their problem? This is an example of information demand from today's consumer. Cut to the chase by resolving issues with ease. Emphasize the issue and outcome to make more sales.
Problems, not promotion
Perform a swot analysis on your ideal customer profiles business. Learn their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Where can you offer help in one of these areas? Positioning yourself like a business partner is a distinct advantage in the customer's view. This kind of strategic thinking is part of what it looks like to solution sell.
Think outside the Box
What other problems are related to your offering? Who are their competitors? What is their most significant initiative? What is the one thing that will cut costs, or grow revenue? Can you help with recruitment and retention? This issue is one of the leading problems employers face today. Focusing on the most prominent issue in the customer's mind and solving it has an uncanny way of making them want to call you back. Do the homework; it's worth it.
Detective Columbo was always looking at how little things are connected. He solved crimes by good old fashion problem-solving. No DNA samples, technology trails, or cell phone pings were used to solve the crime. Columbo and Sherlock Holmes were great detectives because of their ability to see what others could not see. The minds of these detectives were forward-thinking, rational, and laser-focused on what was not there. The way I explain this is to look for the shadows, not the light.
How curious are you? When asking questions of the customer are they well thought out? Do they highlight the issue? Do they focus on the implications of the problem? Questions determine the direction of any conversation. The discovery process is only as good as the questions asked. Take the time to map out the journey before you begin. The one who asks the questions controls the conversation. Where do you want the conversation to go, forward, neutral, or in the ditch (status quo-sound familiar?)
Make it Easy
What ways can you make it easy to say yes? Perhaps you can automate the process for becoming a new customer. Maybe break the bad news to the vendor who lost as a result of your win? Become a project manager for the client? Fast track the process? Be a liaison for the customer? What can you do to make their life easy? Most sales enter status quo due to competing priorities in the customers business. The time needed to devote to making the change isn't there. As a result, people will live with broken systems rather than take the time to address them. Developing ways to make it easy for the customer will help to remove the barriers to entry for your solution.
Are you reactive or proactive? Most of us have lazy brains. It's not our fault; it is a by-product of our minds need to be efficient. We process information at lightning speed and would be overwhelmed if we let everything in. We take the most critical information and look for shortcuts to make sense of it. Cognitive biases and disassociated thinking are side effects of our need to connect the dots. If we slow down and look at the big picture, we uncover things others miss. Ways to become a forward thinker are to get ahead of objections by resolving them in advance. Look for similarities between past, present, and future customers. Stay current on business intelligence in the customer's industry. These mental exercises develop a sixth sense of the future. Well not really, it just looks that way because you are a proactive thinker in a world of reactive ones.
Use creative thinking, the easy button, strategy and detective-like curiosity to improve your sales and focus on solving, not selling. It's what your customer wants you to do.
Luck can be found at the intersection of hard work and perseverance.
Be Great and Prosper-