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Solution Selling Strategy

By EdApp
4 Lessons
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About this course

Review the basics of solution selling as a client strategy and learn how to make actionable plans for turning industry risks into business opportunities.

Solution Selling Strategy Lessons

Click through the microlessons below to preview this course. Each lesson is designed to deliver engaging and effective learning to your team in only minutes.

  1. Solution Selling 101
  2. Scoping Risks & Opportunities for Solutions
  3. Creative Problem-Solving
  4. Setting & Tracking a Solution Selling Action Plan

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Solution Selling Strategy course excerpts

Solution Selling 101

Look into the main concepts behind solution selling and the growing demand for insight sales.

Solution Selling Strategy Course - Lesson Excerpt

Solution Selling 101

Solution Selling is a client strategy popularized by Michael Bosworth in the late 1970s. It's a sales approach where instead of highlighting product features to close a deal, a sales representative actively collaborates with a client to spot and define unique needs before offering a product as a customized solution.

It's more involved and empathetic than an average sales transaction. Aside from product knowledge, this method requires a sales team to deeply understand their client's industry, challenges, emerging needs, specific targets, and big-picture goals.

Solution Selling is an end-to-end process. It starts way before your client raises a red flag and doesn't stop at closing a sale. Rather, it aims to begin a sales relationship by raising issues even before the client sees them, and then works towards successful, long-term, and cost-effective implementation.

The goal is to develop and position a product so that it becomes invaluable to the growth of a client's company. In other words, you'd want to provide solutions that clients can't live without.

What capability gaps do you think exist in Solution Selling? *Select all the possible answers. *

According to McKinsey and Company, most solution-selling enterprises have less developed commercial capabilities than their transactional contemporaries.

This is a significant gap since market analysis also shows that a company's commercial capabilities are closely correlated with successful performance and revenue.

While Solution Selling does continue to be relevant even in today's evolving industries, research suggests that enterprises will need to fill emerging gaps in the approach if they want to keep selling solutions effectively.

According to Forbes, the future of Solution Selling relies on INSIGHT.

Forbes estimates that 94% of B2B decision makers still seek out sales teams that give specific insights into company problems instead of a one-size-fits-all solution.

79% of buyers believe that before they agree to a major purchase, it's critical for a sales representative to act as a trusted company advisor.

89% of B2B buyers state that the vendors they tend to purchase from clearly illustrate ROIs or build compelling business cases for the sale.

For Solution Selling to succeed, sales teams should pivot their approach to address emerging needs and gain their client's trust. Stay ahead of the curb when identifying pain points and offer solutions that will make long-term profitability possible even in quickly evolving industries.

Scoping Risks & Opportunities for Solutions

Identify industry pain points and how to convert them into profitable opportunities.

Solution Selling Strategy Course - Lesson Excerpt

Scoping Risks & Opportunities for Solutions

Risk Recognition refers to the capacity to identify events or situations that may negatively affect business performance or outcome goals.

The ability to recognize pain points and trace their causes is doubly important in Solution Selling, because there are many layers of risk involved in this approach to sales.

Aside from the risks surrounding your own company, you must also develop a deep understanding of the pain points that may be threatening your client and their customers.

Solution Selling works best when sales representatives can recognize, or even anticipate the different risks that a prospect could raise in the middle of negotiations.

Sources of Risk Risk Recognition is integral to setting countermeasures, developing proper solutions, and gaining unexpected benefits from threatening business conditions. The first step to mitigating a risk and capitalizing on opportunities, is to identify the risks that are relevant to your prospect. Risks are often categorized into four main types. Find out more about four major types of risk on the next slide.

Risk & Opportunity Identification Strategies Management Accounting bodies from the Canada, UK, and the US have outlined a few different strategies for identifying risks.

Learn from your industry experience. Looking into your previous industry experience and researching outside your industry allows you to cross-reference your prospect's risks. Based on this past data, you can innovate solutions that may get you closer to making a sale and aiding your prospect's success.

Develop Customer Sensitivity. Customer trends will always pose risks to your prospect because there's a limit to what one can predict about this business factor. However, there are also huge opportunities in developing customer sensitivity. Your challenge is to understand your prospect's customer in a way that their competition does not. You can leverage this understanding when creating and selling solutions.

Scan your industry. Proactively scanning business environments, competitors, and rival technologies is critical to seizing emergent opportunities. This strategy is often driven by hypothetical threats that haven't affected your prospect yet, but is already threatening other industry players. For instance, new technologies that are disrupting a traditional business model is something that you can observe and evaluate from an industry scan.

Plan for possible scenarios. Anticipating the factors that could weaken your prospect's company (even if you don't have a point of comparison yet) allows you to avert disaster in advance. Foresight gives you ample time to create well-designed action plans in preparation for possible risks. It also positions you not just as a sales representative, but as a trusted advisor to your client.

Creative Problem-Solving

Explore the science behind Creative Problem Solving, and how you can apply techniques and attitudes to successfully develop client solutions.

Solution Selling Strategy Course - Lesson Excerpt

Creative Problem-Solving

Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) is a business concept that taps into individual and group creativity, in order to develop new ideas and solutions.

This concept is integral to client strategy and Solution Selling because a solution-based sales heavily relies on novelty, innovation, and the ability to quell your client's doubts. As a sales representative, you always want to have the newest and most efficient solutions. You also need to find fixes for concerns that clients may raise during a pitch. This ability to keep up with the current requires constant creativity.

The more ideas you generate, the more industry pain points you can provide solutions to, and the more clients you can gain.

The Science of Creativity

Research from Baylor College of Medicine and Emory University suggests that the pleasure centres of the human brain become more responsive to experiences that surprise and delight rather than predictable moments.

Similar studies from The University of Magdeburg shows that the average person is more likely to remember unexpected events versus normal ones.

This is the kind of psychological impact that you'd want to cultivate in clients when negotiating a sale. According to Forbes, companies that foster surprising, creative moments with their clients tend to perform 3.5 times better than their contemporaries in terms of revenue growth.

Luckily for the sales industry, the type of creativity needed in crafting out-of-the-box solutions is the technical kind. Unlike ARTISTIC CREATIVITY, which has to do with innate talent and self-expression, TECHNICAL CREATIVITY is something that anyone can operationalize through different expansive and reflective methods.

Lateral Thinking The result of consciously combining divergent and convergent thinking is LATERAL THINKING. Forbes defines this mode of thought as "the ability to develop original answers to difficult questions." In other words, lateral thinking is a problem-solving approach where new, imagined solutions are refined and made feasible through critical analysis. To develop new, yet effective answers to complex industry problems, and to work around client issues that may prevent a sale, you need to be versed in both imagination and logic. **Lateral thinking is the backbone of Creative Problem-Solving. ** Rice University breaks this creative process down further in 5 steps. Click the ordered images on the next slide to find out more.

In a lecture for the Canadian Management Center, innovation expert Janice Francisco recommended a list of attitudes and work practices for teams looking into a Creative Problem-Solving shift. Learn more on the next slide.

Remember: Creative Problem-Solving a mindset that favours novelty, innovation, and possibility. Consciously practising lateral thinking (imagination and logic) during sales negotiations will equip you with ideas that can quell your client's doubts and lead to cutting-edge solutions.

Setting & Tracking a Solution Selling Action Plan

Discover the key contents of action plans and progress trackers, and look at basic templates that you can adapt to your own process.

Solution Selling Strategy Course - Lesson Excerpt

Setting & Tracking a Solution Selling Action Plan

Because Solution Selling aims to be a convenient, end-to-end process for a client, your job as a sales representative begins much before your prospect raises an unresolved business gap, and ends much after you sell them an appropriate solution.

As you may have already learned from the lesson on identifying risks, it's best to stay ahead of your prospect pool in terms of scoping out emerging industry pain points and developing new opportunities.

Similarly, it's important to keep track of how your clients are doing, and how well your solutions are performing even after you close a deal.

How can you make sure that you meet the goals you've set with your client? How can you quantify your solution's efficacy after implementation? What can you take from previous successes to increase future sales?

What are the benefits of an Action Plan? According to industry expert Gabriela Blandy, teams and individuals are 42% more likely to achieve goals that are plotted or written down. In a sales context, action planning is essential in keeping all processes on track, visibly monitoring client progress, and delivering a quality product to your prospect on time. Action planning usually happens towards the latter half of a sales strategy, after you and your prospect settle on the specific goals, issues to solve, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure and track. This planning stage is followed by product implementation and performance tracking. While there is no one-size-fits all template for a sales action plan, it usually includes the following key pieces of information: DETAILED GOALS ACTION STEPS RESPONSIBLE PARTIES ** & TIMELINES**.

After plotting your goals, steps, point persons, and timelines, the next step is to track the progress of your action plan.

Monitoring the outcomes of your plan can generate crucial data for you as an individual sales representative, and for your company as a whole.

Ask questions like: Am I hitting my activity targets? If not, what’s blockers am I facing? Is our product meeting its KPIs? How is my overall client progress? How can we use data to improve sales?

The answers to these questions usually appear in task updates, KPI reports, and other similar progress documentation. In the next slide, you'll see a sample template, and use cases for monitoring your action plan progress.

The goal of Action Planning is to guide you through the concrete, time-bound steps that you need to perform in order to meet your goals and successfully implement a solution for your prospect.

A successful action plan is proactive, flexible, and measurable. It can keep your sales strategy on track, expose possible gaps in your process, and document key information that will be useful in future negotiations.

Always leverage what you learn from previous action plans to improve your next sales strategy and increase your chances of closing a deal.

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Solution Selling Strategy


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