One of the most gratifying aspects of selling is solving problems for customers. It’s amazing when we connect with customers, discover their challenges and provide real solutions. After a while, however, the experienced salesperson begins to realize that, fundamentally, most problems are the same. After hearing clients share a few bullet points on the challenges they are facing, the experienced salesperson can see the similarities with previous clients that faced the same issues.
The experienced salesperson has already begun formulating the solution before the client has even finished describing it. The salesperson can hardly wait to share with
excitement that he or she has the solution. And this is where experienced salespeople miss the mark. They may make a sale, but often, it will be a fraction of what it could have been.
Here are three questions to encourage your salespeople to think more deeply before they jump into selling solutions:
1. What else? These two small words will uncover a wealth of additional opportunities. Many times, I’ve been in situations where what was really bothering the customer didn’t come out until after they had shared the initial problem on the agenda. By simply asking, “What else is going on?”, the customer feels free to share other challenges. The best salespeople will ask
this question repeatedly to generate a list of new potential challenges that they can prioritize with the customer.
2. Who else? The best salespeople understand that pain runs through an organization. When something is going wrong in one area, invariably, it has an impact on other areas. In the same way, fixing something in one area of an organization will impact and disrupt other areas. As a result of this, people outside the functional area experiencing a problem will be concerned about how and when the problem is solved. Inexperienced salespeople ignore this reality to their detriment. Solutions don’t work because somebody buys them; they work because all the right people are committed to making them work. Push your salespeople to ensure they understand all of the stakeholders impacted by the identified problem and the proposed solution. Also, ensure they understand everyone involved in the approval and purchasing process.
3. Who cares? Although similar to point 2, this is a different topic. While we must listen for facts, the best salespeople listen for “feels”. This means that while we are listening to the words that people say, we are hyper-sensitive to the energy with which they express these words. There’s a certain point in the conservation where the prospect lights up and becomes more
animated. They put a lot more emphasis on what they are saying, and they are much more animated. The best salespeople make note of this shift in energy and they explore not only the facts but the feelings behind it. They make a point of aligning solutions with the energy that will drive a successful implementation.
No two client solutions are the same, because no two clients are the same. The actual product or service that the vendor supplies is a small part of what makes solutions work. The bigger part of a solution involves factors that the salesperson cannot control. He or she must therefore explore diligently and listen carefully to uncover this vital information. The real solution will be a combination of what the salesperson brings as well as the complexity of what is in the customer’s world. The real solution will have a greater impact and, more often than not, will result in a bigger payout to the vendor.