Especially during the ‘kickoff season’ of any new sales year, sales teams and marketing departments alike usually invest a tremendous amount of thought and energy into how best to position their solutions within their respective markets. That makes sense—after all, the more solutions you provide, the more money you and your company stand to make, right?
Or, perhaps it should be the other way around…
Providing valuable solutions is certainly a noble goal for individual salespeople, and for the entire sales organization. But, if you step back and think about it, customers in any value-oriented sale are much more focused on solving “their” problems than acquiring “your” solutions. How do we know this to be true?
Last time you bought a car (or a computer, cell phone, home, or faced any other value-based purchase decision), as you walked through the front doors of the automobile dealership, what was more important to you—addressing your goals, wants, needs, and desires, or getting ‘pitched’ by an eager sales representative?
Not surprisingly, the answer to this question is the same for every business, in every industry, and in every culture. Customers are much more interested in addressing their needs, than being “sold” on your solutions.
This is where a seemingly small difference in semantics translates into a significant increase in sales effectiveness and productivity. As it turns out, solving a customer’s problem…and providing a solution…is the same—in the sense that you can’t solve a problem without providing a solution, nor can you provide a solution without solving a problem.
Still, there is a huge difference between being a ‘problem solver’ and a ‘solution provider.’ The difference is perception. Customers these days are much more focused on addressing their goals, objectives, wants, needs, and desires, than they are willing to be on the receiving end of a sales pitch. Thus, adopting a ‘problem solver’ mindset can give sellers a significant advantage over the traditional ‘solution provider’ mentality in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.
While everyone knows that success in selling is about building mutually beneficial business relationships, sellers who focus on solving the customer’s problems can expect to sell substantially more solutions. That’s because the mutual bonds being formed with potential buyers are the result of focusing on the problems they are trying to solve, rather than fixating on whatever solutions you might be wanting to sell.