Solution selling is the process of selling the customer a solution to their problems as opposed to a product or service. The term is associated with the sales of products and services that can be used as the building blocks of a custom implementation. Solution selling is common in areas such as construction services, software and outsourcing sales. The following are the basic stages of a solution selling process.
Solution selling often involves complex, high value sales that take significant time from the cultivation of relationships to close. This requires a stable and highly connected sales team that can develop a large pipeline of prospects and opportunities.
Consultative SalesIn order to keep the customer engaged, the sales team may provide access to consultants who can answer the customer's questions and provide valuable industry data such as benchmarks. Ideally, the customer becomes dependent on you as a source of knowledge and data.
Working with the customer to identify their needs, preferences and perceptions to develop a value proposition. This is a process of requirements elicitation whereby the customer outlines issues and the sales team captures requirements. This will take into account factors such as budget, decision making authority and influencers such that the value proposition is likely to sell.
Solution DesignDeveloping a design that demonstrates how your products and services will solve the customer's problems. A high-level design may be necessary to close a deal. Alternatively, design may be part of solution delivery if your customer is willing to buy based on value proposition alone.
The process of negotiating price and terms to close a sale. In complex, high-value sales it is common to use a foot-in-the door approach whereby an initial deal solves a single high impact problem for the customer.
Solution DeliveryDelivering your obligations to the customer. The goal of solution sales is typically to expand such that the customer is dependent on your products, services and expertise. As such, solution delivery continues to be a sales process whereby customer relationships, needs analysis, solution design and negotiation of more deals is ongoing.
When the solution is launched the account continues to be monitored for cross-selling and upselling opportunities. If you are generating monthly recurring revenue, customer satisfaction may be carefully monitored and managed. For example, a sales account manager may contact the customer after an issue or incident to act as a advocate for the customer.
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