Yesterday I took a cold call. I don’t take too many of them because frankly, I dislike the “all about me” attitude. However, I knew the company, and was interested to learn how they might address an issue I’ve been grappling with.
One of the very first things we learn as sellers is that people want to buy solutions to their problems, rather than products or services. That’s why I took the call. I have a problem I wanted to discuss.
As sellers we become experts on learning about the kinds of challenges and difficulties our customers tend to face, and then opening conversations with new prospects on those grounds.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t always have the effect sales people hope it will. And usually, that’s because they haven’t given the prospect time to even mention what his or her problems are yet.
In my case, the sales rep launched into his memorized value proposition based on a business issue he thought I might have. I was interested to talk to him even though his supposition was wrong.
Selling solutions is far better than selling products and services; but even more important is that you learn to sell solutions to the problems your potential customers actually have… not the ones you imagine they have.
My sales rep never gave me a chance to express my concern. After five minutes of listening to him go on and on about the business issue I don’t have, I politely ended the call.
Opening your prospecting calls or emails with what I call a “solutions dump” – where you start giving the prospect answers to challenges they haven’t mentioned – is about as effective as telling potential customers only about yourself.
Prospects quickly lose interest. I know I did.
So how can you successfully focus on business issues to sell a solution without resorting to a “solutions dump?”
There are two ways.
- Open your prospecting and lead generation activities with statements that show how you’ve helped other similar customers solve their problems. That way, you’re presenting solutions, but without assuming that you know exactly what your prospect’s situation is. Then pause, and let the prospect respond.
- Do more research to find out what’s happening in your prospect’s company, industry, and so on. The more you learn, and the more questions you ask, the more accurately you’re going to be able to find solutions to the problems that matter.
Finding solutions instead of focusing on products is great advice, in prospecting and sales in general. To make it work, however, first take the time to be sure the answers you’re coming up with fit the questions in your prospect’s mind.