Don't Sell...Solve!

Your customers have problems they need to solve. They also have goals and aspirations they are trying to figure out how to achieve. In B2B sales your products should typically help them solve a problem or show them a path to their most wanted outcome. You, as the subject matter expert, can likely see the problem or goal as clear as day and know instinctively what needs to happen. So, after a quick assessment of the situation, you start talking up your products and solutions or pitching the features advantages and benefits. The problem is your customers can’t see the solution as easily as you can, and they aren’t as passionate about your solution as you are. The reason is you are too far out in front of them.

Not unlike a doctor, your job as a sales professional is to first diagnose your customer’s problems and ascertain their most wanted outcomes before offering a solution. You have to do it with them, not for them. Jumping to the solution before your customer can fully articulate their issues short cuts the process. Your prospects, customers, and clients already know you are a subject matter expert. It’s their minimum expectation you know your stuff! During the diagnosis or discovery phase, your real job is to gain a clear understanding of what they are trying to accomplish and learn why it’s important to them. This cannot be done by selling, or “Pitching”. Getting your customers to fully articulate their challenges and desires is the key to gaining buy-in, building trust and gaining acceptance of your solution. You may know exactly what they need, but if you say it there is an agenda attached to the solution. If, through a series of well thought out discovery questions and conversation, you can get the customer to tell you exactly what they need and why it becomes a fact.

As you start to discover, through the questions you ask, what your customer’s problems are, you can ask follow up questions about the cost of the problem or the value of the solution. Questions like “What does that cost you?” or “How is that impacting your business financially?” or “What would it mean to your business if you achieved your goal?” Having your customer dollarize the cost of their problem or share the value of the solution makes your solution more attractive assuming the cost of doing business with you is less than the cost of the problem or the value of the solution. If, for example, you have a solution that improves a customer’s productivity allowing them to save money on you have a better chance of moving them forward with fewer objections. Again you need to get the prospect involved in the conversation as well as the solution by asking the right questions versus jumping to the solution.