The Solution Selling Slow Burn and Why it’s Worth the Wait

Solution selling is a slow burn, but don’t let that discourage you. Done right, this sales methodology has a plethora of benefits.

If you’ve ever delved into the world of sales methodologies, you’ve probably realized how similar they all tend to be. In fact, they might even seem like one methodology wrapped in different kinds of fancy paper.

After all, no matter how each method starts and what steps are required along the way, the end goal undeniably remains the same.

To sell your product, service, or solution.

To close the sale.

But make no mistake. All sales methodologies are not created equal. Take, for instance, solution selling – a methodology that requires:

  • practice,
  • discipline,
  • patience,
  • and a higher level of professionalism.

Think you’re up for the challenge? Then keep reading.

What is the solution selling methodology?

Solution selling is a method by which a salesperson holistically identifies their prospect’s needs and then meets those needs by providing them with a product or service – in other words, they offer a solution. Solution selling consists of two main components:

  • Problem-solving
  • Consultation

Solution selling is a six-step process:

  1. Preparing for your first point of contact by researching your prospect’s history and attempting to pinpoint the challenges they face
  2. Diagnosing their problem so you can explore the suitability of your solution. This will be done using your previous research and asking your lead open-ended questions.
  3. Qualifying them as a potential client – or not. Does your product meet their needs? Are they interested in your solution? Is it worth a follow-up call or meeting?
  4. Educating your client about why and how your product or service meets their needs and brings value to their business
  5. Solving their problem by driving home the fact that what you’re offering is the solution they need
  6. Closing by either making a sale or planning for the next steps

Solution selling gained a foothold in 1983 and replaced what was at the time the most popular sales methodology – product selling.

Up until then, common sales methods focused on selling products or services, so to suddenly switch to selling solutions was revolutionary to many, and for some, a little complicated.

That’s because when “sell, sell, sell!” has been drummed into us for as long as we can remember, “find a solution!” can seem a little counterintuitive.

What is a solution selling mindset?

Here’s what you need to do: forget about selling. 

Yes, you read that correctly. 

Wait. So you’re telling me that my job isn’t to sell? But I’m a salesperson!

Here’s the thing: selling isn’t an action, in and of itself. This means your job isn’t to sell whatever product or service you’re offering. Your job is to motivate your prospect to buy your product or service. 

So how do you take a counterintuitive sales methodology and transform it into one that’s intuitive?

By shifting your mindset – something we’re well versed in at Krauthammer.

First, you have to start by mentally adjusting your definition of selling. Once you shift your mindset and reframe your job role – to motivate your prospect to buy – solution selling makes a whole lot of sense. 

Then, leave the act of selling at the door, along with your ego. It’s about attitude. Make a commitment to support your customers in making sure your product:

  1. Meets their needs
  2. Help them create the future they envision

If you have the right attitude, the rest will follow. 

This statement is the very crux of what we do here at Krauthammer. It’s what we teach and preach in our training programs and what we practice in our daily lives. Having the right attitude will also bode well for your future career as the world of sales continues to rapidly evolve.

How to adapt solution selling for a changing world

Solution selling is the Madonna of sales methodologies. 

It may have become popular in the 80s, but to stay relevant in a changing world, evolved over time.

Like Madonna, some argue that solution selling might be past its sell-by date. With today’s consumers approaching the buying process more informed than ever, one might argue that salespeople, in general, are at risk of becoming redundant.

Indeed, customers don’t need us the way they used to. In fact, on average, customers complete nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision before even having a conversation with a supplier.  

So what can you do to bring priceless value to the last 40% of the buying process?

Solution selling today requires you to lead with insight

It’s no longer enough to simply bring solutions to the table. 

You must bring solutions with insight. 

To build a rapport and establish trust with your customer, you need to exhibit extraordinary acumen by:

  • Providing knowledge that only a true product expert could possess
  • Showing them things that can’t be discovered during an internet deep-dive
  • Researching your customers as much as they’ve researched your product
  • Trusting your intuition and tapping into your emotional intelligence 

How to embrace the solution selling slow burn

Society has conditioned us to believe that the definition of success is to be the first person with the right answer and to provide it as quickly as possible. 

It’s a rule that’s repeated throughout our lives – from the school child frantically waving her arm in the air to the brainy quiz show contestant with his hand hovering over the buzzer.

No wonder some unlearning is required to master solution selling. 

Because solution selling is a slow burn. 

An artform that with the right attitude and approach has masterpiece potential. Here are some solution selling rules to live by:

Be in the moment

Let yourself recognize the beauty in the build-up. Remember that your job isn’t to sell. It’s to motivate your customer to buy. Stop thinking about closing the sale and trust us when we say that the wait will be worth it.

Take your time

Forget what you’ve been conditioned to believe, and don’t be too quick to solve. Sales reps that are too quick to solve their prospect’s problems risk missing out on valuable information.

Imagine you and your spouse decide to attend couples therapy. What if your psychologist assumes to know why you’re not getting along, just because she counsels multiple couples a week? She might ask a few surface questions and miss out on the information she needs to provide you with customized treatment.

If she doesn’t take her time asking you the right questions and actively listening she:

  1. is unlikely to give you the tools you need to improve your marriage and
  2. will probably end up losing you and your partner as clients. 

Dig deep

Unpeel that onion and get to the core of the problem. Channel your inner paleontologist and dig deep. Then, when you think you’ve hit something, dig deeper.  

Often what we think is the problem, is actually a symptom of a bigger problem

Let’s say you’re a sales manager and one of your sales reps isn’t performing. On top of that, he appears irritable and on edge. Would you simply tell him to bring his numbers up? Or would dig deeper to find the root of the problem?

You might find his work behavior is a symptom of something else, like anxiety, low confidence, or a lack of training.

Keep digging.

Asking the right questions not only builds trust but ultimately, leads to the right solution. Remember that not all questions can be prepared ahead of time. Sometimes spontaneous questions can produce the most valuable answers.

Be patient

Here’s what you need to do: close for the next steps, and not for the sale. That might seem like crazy advice, but top performers know that in resolving the next step instead of rushing to close the sale, they’re more likely to motivate the customer to eventually buy. 

Staying on track with clear next steps and having faith in the process is proof of maturity as a sales rep.

What are the benefits of solution-based selling?

If time is one of your biggest commodities as a sales rep, then the idea of a slow burn sales methodology might make you nervous. However, if you can understand and implement solution selling effectively, you’ll see long-term benefits.

In a nutshell, it’s worth it.

Elevates your conversations

Solution selling redirects the narrative away from the ‘what’ and ‘how much’ of your product and towards the ‘why’. This enables a deeper, more nuanced conversation that gets to the root of your customer’s issues.

Allows you to focus on value

When the conversation moves beyond product features and pricing, it shifts to the topic of creating value. But it’s not just about the value your product brings to the customer, but the value you bring to the process as well. 

Sets you apart from your competitors

By focusing on value and truly providing solutions you’ll be seen as a trustworthy advisor. The service experience you’ll provide as a result will be incomparable to the competition. 

Builds trust and deepen relationships

Solution selling won’t just help you win over new customers, it will enable you to create long-lasting relationships cemented in empathy, intuition, and expertise. 

Did you know that 79% of buyers consider it critical to interact with not just a sales rep, but a trusted advisor who adds value to their business?

This is your chance to step up. 

To approach selling with a new attitude, to adopt a powerful methodology rooted in empathy, and to change the face of sales for the better.

With only 3% of buyers trusting salespeople, wouldn’t it feel good to know that you’re helping to increase the number?

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