Sales Skills

The Path To Solution Selling

The words of wisdom have long held that “selling is about relationships and that in complex sales, relationships are the underpinning of sales success.  Over the past 10 years or so, there have been some disturbing hints that relationship-based selling may be less effective than it used to be.”  At least that’s what Professor Neil Rachham states in the introduction of The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.

Rachham continues by stating:

“Surveys of customers consistently show that they put the highest value on those professionals who make them think, who bring new ideas, and who find creative and innovative ways to help their business.  As you have experienced firsthand, customers are now demanding more depth and expertise.  They expect you to teach them things they did not know.”

Dixon and Adamson teach us throughout their book:

“Solution selling represents the migration from a focus on transactional sales of individual products to a focus on broad-based consultative solutions.  The key in solution selling is the creation of offerings that not only meet broader customer needs in a unique and valuable way, but also the creation of a unique diagnostic process that competitors cannot easily replicate.”

Dixon and Adamson offer the following chart from the CEB Sales Leadership Council on the distinctions between product selling and solution selling:

Path to Solution Selling

Finally, Dixon and Adamson state in regards to the customer’s burden of solutions:

“It is important to note that the shift from product to solution selling changes the mindset of the customer.  They now expect you to actually ‘solve’ a real problem not just supply reliable products or services.  And to achieve solutions, you will be required not only to understand the customers’ probl
ems or challenges, but also to identify new and better means of addressing them.”

While you should continue to place value on relationships, The Challenger Sale opens our eyes to the necessity of a consultative and diagnostic process aimed at uncovering and addressing the issues facing a business.  The three pillars of the Challenger Selling Model are teach, tailor and take control.  While the model may appear simple in theory, its execution will significantly separate you from your competition.

Do you offer professional insights and strategies related to solution selling?  Does your selling model incorporate the three pillars of the Challenger Selling Model?