Selling is often associated with the terms “pushy,” “convincing,” and “all about money.” However, with solution selling, you can add the empathetic human touch that modern businesses need to stand out.
In today's digital age, it is essential to build meaningful relationships. Jotting down a prospect’s frustrations and immediately offering your product or services doesn’t build trust or get to the root of someone’s issues. When you slow down and actively listen, you’ll be able to provide solutions that genuinely address customers' pain points. This is where solution selling comes into play.
In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of solution selling, a topic discussed by Molly Rigatti at HubSpot’s INBOUND 2023. Let’s explore how solution selling can help businesses achieve their goals.
Understanding Solution Selling
Unfortunately, “only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs.”
Sales is often viewed as a department that only cares about its quotas. Solution selling goes beyond pushing a product or service. It involves building a comprehensive story around the prospect's challenges and pain points and aligning them with their goals.
This approach emphasizes the human aspect of selling by focusing on relational connections first. Molly Rigatti explains, “Building relationships gets the honest truth about what someone needs.” Without truly knowing your prospect, you won’t know exactly how your product or service can best help.
Molly has pioneered The Prospect Story. This framework allows you to understand your prospect better by knowing their:
- Specific pain points
- Current roadblocks
Understanding these aspects allows your company to work your magic in the sales process and show them your value proposition. In Molly’s words, it allows you to turn the customer from feeling “icky to empowered.” In the audiences words...
Adopting the Solution Selling Mindset
To establish trust and recommend solutions effectively, it is crucial to make prospects feel heard. By prioritizing the prospect's needs, sales professionals can foster an environment of open communication and reflection.
Relationship-building has both short and long-term benefits. It not only leads to closed deals but also paves the way for bigger sales and repeat business.
Solution selling requires a shift in habits and processes. Longer meetings, dedicated preparation, and active listening become essential components of the sales journey. By spending more time understanding the prospect's unique situation and asking insightful questions, sales professionals can provide tailored solutions.
Implementing the Solution Selling Mindset
The typical 30-minute sales meeting doesn’t give you enough time to truly understand someone. To build a meaningful relationship, 45 minutes has proven more effective, according to Impulse Creative.
The right preparation is vital. But, “prepared” doesn’t mean you have every answer. Being prepared means you have researched enough to know how to ask the right questions. Become comfortable not having all the right answers or even offering a solution on the first call. You need to understand what has blocked the customer from solving their problems on their own before you can offer suggestions. Finding your customer’s “why” will give you the insight you need to offer the right solution.
The solution selling mindset is a profound shift from a traditional “pushy” approach to sales. One way to ensure that your meetings are productive is to adopt the LAZER meeting.
The LAZER Meetings Approach
LAZER Meetings provide a framework for successful sales conversations. LAZER stands for:
- Listen actively
- Acknowledge a prospect’s concerns
- “Zip it”
By actively listening, acknowledging the prospect's concerns, and keeping them engaged, sales professionals can explore their needs in depth. Building trust and rapport through effective questioning helps outline a personalized experience.
Start with “listening” to the information you have when the prospect first queried your business. This includes their inquiry form or outreach email. Take this to heart and acknowledge it, but don’t begin assuming and thinking of solutions automatically.
Next, you need to “zip it,” or remain quiet, and keep your prospect talking. This is not the time to start pitching your services or deep-diving on your functionality. If they stop talking, be curious and ask questions. While it may seem counterintuitive to sales not to talk much, it actually is not. You can build trust by asking the right things to better understand their needs and concerns. Outline your experience and expertise through your questions. For example, “Your issue sounds like something that happened to another client. Can you tell me if your problem is like XYZ?”
Once you get the proper amount of information, it’s now time to respond. You’ll want to demonstrate an understanding of their issues. Reiterate what they’re facing. Here is the time when you can say, “Here’s what I’m going to do for you” or even, “Here’s what I need to know from you.” It’s much harder to book a call over email compared to when you are talking in real time. You will want to lock in your next step on the call.
Processes that Drive 5-Star Experiences
In addition to the LAZER meeting structure, there’s an additional framework that can help you close deals empathetically. The Diagnose, Design, Deliver framework is a strategic approach to solution selling.
First, you begin by diagnosing. This requires you to uncover, unpack, and document your prospects’ goals, pains, and needs. Documenting these allows you to have the proper inputs for creative problem-solving.
Next, the design stage involves creating a plan that aligns with your customer’s objectives and budget. The solution doesn’t stop with the Sales Department. This may mean talking to your customer success team to best enable your future customer.
Once you have crafted a solution for your customer, it is time to deliver it. With all the effort you’ve put into understanding your prospect, the delivery is paramount. If you just “pop it in an email,” it won’t convey your story accurately. Tell them–with intention–the story of how they will reach their goals and what role you will play.
Finally, deliver the solution through a compelling story. This ensures that the prospect is engaged and understands the value being offered. Your follow up and active listening are your top priorities. Reaching a deal often requires multiple stakeholders. Be patient and add value when your prospect needs to see your plan “in a different way” so they can sell the solution to their own team and decision makers.
Solution selling is a paradigm shift from traditional selling techniques. It focuses on building relationships and providing meaningful solutions to customers' pain points. By adopting a human-centric approach and implementing solution selling habits, businesses can establish trust, achieve lasting relationships, and see tangible results. Embrace solution selling not only to benefit your customers but also to empower your sales teams to enhance their confidence and foster better cross-departmental relationships. Ultimately, this approach drives higher total contract value, more monthly recurring revenue, and richer data that can fuel business growth.