Solution selling: definition, how to do it and benefits

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When it comes to selling goods or services to clients, businesses employ a range of strategies. One strategy that focuses on addressing consumer demands is solution selling. While selling solutions is less common in today's market than it once was, it remains a viable sales strategy for many organisations and sectors. In this article, we discuss what solution selling is, examine when and how to use it and explore the benefits of this process.

What is solution selling?

Solution selling refers to the process of a salesperson identifying a customer's requirements and offering them a service or product solution. It's regarded as an issue-led selling process since it focuses on recognising an issue before providing a product or service instead of starting with the service or product itself. Many firms use the internet to explore goods, services and ideas to tackle their business challenges, making finding answers easier for salespeople than before.

Related: What are the most important sales skills?

When is solution-based selling used?

Solution-based selling is beneficial for businesses with niche products. Businesses frequently use solution-based processes for selling highly complex or customisable items that need substantial expertise and insight from the salesperson. For example, a business that provides a cloud storage platform in addition to maintenance and security services is likely to design a tailored package for each of its clients. The salesperson determines how much data the client can keep, how many devices they may use to access their files and what type of additional features and support they might require.

Selling solutions vs selling products

Selling solutions requires thinking further than the present moment. Product specifications and features remain important, but they don't make up the main focus of a well-executed solution sale. This type of sale stresses the 'why' of a possible transaction above the 'what'. Why a customer needs it takes precedence over what a business is selling. Imagine a cybersecurity consulting company attempting to offer a cybersecurity risk analysis to a midsize retail company. If the company was only interested in selling the assessment, it would consider the service's overall advantages.

Benefits of solution-focused selling

If you work in a sales-based role, it's important to understand the value of developing a strong relationship with consumers. You may become their go-to person for guidance because you combine knowledge, accessibility and practical know-how. Benefits of solution-focused selling include:

1. Elevating the conversation

When talking about solutions, the discussion with consumers typically differs when making sales. Because solution discussions focus on why a customer needs a product or service, you may discuss strategy rather than statistics and take a broader look at a customer's wants and how they may develop in the future. This shifts the conversation away from pricing and onto the creation of value.

2. Focusing on the value

Value creation entails offering a comprehensive range of services to clients. It's all about promoting outcomes and skills while discussing business effects. This remains important for increasing sales and for providing broader services that aren't comparable to those of competitors and, hence, not comparable in terms of pricing. The value of a product remains the focus of the solution-focused selling strategy. If a salesperson sells a kitchen appliance, for instance, they won't concentrate on the manufacturing materials. Instead, they emphasise the excellent meals that the appliance can help the prospect to prepare. This makes it easier for prospects to comprehend why they require a product or service.

3. Building a deeper engagement

Offering a wide selection of services is an excellent way of developing long-term connections with customers and end-users. When it comes to selling with a solution focus, the salesperson doesn't merely close the deal and then leave. Solution-based selling keeps lines of communication open and encourages the customer to see the salesperson as an expert in their field. Since they hold a thorough awareness of their consumers' demands, companies utilise this practice to build long-term relationships with them. As a consequence, companies foster consumer loyalty and connection.

4. Becoming a trusted adviser

To become a trusted adviser, it's important to establish a reputation with clients that's based on your knowledge, whether that knowledge includes vehicle protection, connected solutions or guidance and fleet consulting. Selling allows you to demonstrate your knowledge while at work and remains an excellent method for establishing client connections.

Related: 5 sales pitch examples (with definitions and techniques)

What to consider when adopting a solution-selling protocol

When adopting a solution-selling protocol, keep the following aspects and principles in mind:

  • Examine the product or service: Check to see whether the product or service you're selling satisfies the requirements for successfully selling solutions. It requires complicated, adaptable or a high level of experience to use.

  • Examine the client: Take a look at the clientele of the business you work for. Solution-based selling is typically a beneficial sales approach if you currently provide unique, personalised solutions to clients.

  • Find a niche: Look for previously untapped markets for the goods or services a business sells. Businesses can then fill in the gaps left by the competition.

  • Become a supporter: Assist consumers in identifying their issues and challenges and developing customised solutions. Instead of just selling an item or service, become an advocate for a solution.

How to use solution-focused selling

Solution-focused selling is useful for salespeople in a wide range of sectors. It's also a useful skill for salespeople in a variety of positions, such as a sales assistant or manager. Steps for utilising this process include:

1. Recognising common pain points

The most important element of this process involves determining the clients' most prevalent pain points. Without this knowledge, you won't properly target prospects or deliver an appropriate solution. Examine previous sales to understand what issues motivated customers to make a purchase. Ask customers what factors influenced their decision to buy and what issue their purchase solved.

2. Preparing questions

Once you've worked out the most important challenges a product addresses for consumers, develop a collection of questions to help you assess clients. If you prepare the correct questions, you may spend most of the sales conversation focusing on the buyer and their business instead of the product that you're selling and its characteristics. Begin by asking broad questions that elicit information about the prospect's business. Then narrow it down a little further—you're searching for particular data and numbers to assist you in making a case for your idea.

3. Practising selling value

Selling with a solution focus is often successful because it looks at a product's return on investment rather than its sticker price. Ensure you understand and explain the value of the product you're selling if you're a sales director or an independent salesperson. It's useful to think about the following questions:

  • How does the product make life simpler for the buyer? Which responsibilities or challenges does it address?

  • Is the product time-saving for the buyer? If so, how much time does it save? What could they achieve in these minutes?

  • Is your product cost-effective for the buyer? If so, how much money does it save? What could they do with this money?

Top solution-selling tips

Solution selling is a distinct art form. By incorporating these important elements into your sales technique, you can help to improve your chances of success. Top selling tips include:

Lead with insight

Clients want to speak with someone who displays insight and who demonstrates that they provide value to their company or lives. This is the most important aspect of solution-based selling. Therefore, it's important for solution sellers to lead their sales encounters with understanding.

Know the clients

Make sure to prepare fully before entering a selling situation. Salespeople now have access to a wealth of data and information about prospects that they can obtain before an initial encounter or chat. If you're offering solutions, it's important to learn everything you can about your prospects before speaking with them.

Ask the right questions

It's important to ask the correct questions when talking with a client for the first time. This helps to ensure that you can identify any challenges they're seeking to address. Solution salespeople use a series of pre-set enquiries to assess any challenges a prospect might face so they can identify the best solution.

Related: 3 elevator pitch examples (plus how to structure your pitch)

Suggest a solution

After a potential customer describes the issue they're seeking to address, the salesperson can provide a solution that best fits their needs. Instead of emphasising the product or service's characteristics, focus on how your solution helps the consumer to solve their situation. This ensures that you offer them a resolution via the products that you sell.

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