Selling solutions in complex sales is not
easy especially if you are moving from a relationship driven transactional approach. The biggest challenge is your people and whether or not they can make the transition; often the assumption is that with some training and motivation they can but this is far from certain. Step one is a good hard look at your people to see who has the headroom for growth.
we have been training and coaching people in solution selling for many years. The transition is not an easy one selling solutions requires sales people to build and communicate customer value rather than
product price, often to layers of decision makers. Although a solution sale should be more valuable the greater complexity of the sales cycle means that results are not instant. The time lag eventually catches up but many companies and sales people seek to sell solutions but have no patience for the result.
One other misconception is that customers will welcome this change in approach but this is not always the case. A major equipment manufacturer who sold to small independent outlets found most customers just wanted a price and delivery date, trying to sell a solution actually worked against them. This new approach caused failure and frustration for both sales person and customer but all was not lost as this led to the company segmenting its customer base into those for whom buying solutions was appropriate. They also saved costs by creating a call centre that focused on transactional deals.
The worst reason and I still come across this from time to time is to transit to solution selling because you believe it will give you greater price realisation. If this is the only reason then stop now and re-evaluate. Sales people who crumble on price with
a transactional approach are still going to crumble with a consultative approach. In many cases greater price realisation could come simply from training sales people to be better transactional sellers, introducing better sales management systems and assessing to see if you have the right people in the first place.
There are 3 good reasons to transit to consultative selling:
- Your product has become more complex.
- The service element or after market element is growing.
- Your customers are demanding it.
If one or all three of these apply then you must ensure that your sales organisation
is correctly aligned to a consultative approach by:
- Re-examining your sales process,
- Assess your sales people against a new sales role then implement a recruitment or development programme to fill the gaps.
- Introduce systems that support the teamwork and longer sales cycle associated with consultative selling.
- Align your incentive and reward programme.
- Implement a communications programme so your customers will know what you are doing and why.
With a good reason to change and the fundamentals in place selling solutions will
help your company grow.