Articles on solution selling

If you’ve read your share of sales books the following titles probably aren’t new to you. But if you’re new to sales, or  just haven’t taken time to wade through the mountains of sales books available, these two are a great place to start. They’re straightforward, practical, timeless, and two of my favorites.

Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets (Michael Bosworth)
Bosworth spends time discussing how selling should be about helping people buy, not forcing sales. What this boils down to is adding value to the process through honesty, helping the buyer realize a shared vision/solution, and making the buyer generally feel good about the process. For anyone with a consulting background this philosophy is very familiar.  In consulting we take time to truly understand the client and their unique challenges and needs. We don’t quickly jump to assumptions or push generic solutions. Selling should be no different. Selling is about helping customers arrive at vision of a solution, and then providing (or facilitating) that solution.

3 Stages of Buying Cycle

This book provides a great road map for identifying and staying inline with the various stages of the buying cycle. Bosworth defines these 3 stages as:

  1. Define needs
  2. Evaluate alternatives
  3. Risk evaluation and action

If you’re not in tune with where the buyer is in the buying cycle – you have little chance of success.

3 Levels of Need

Another critical concept for salespersons to understand is the 3 Levels of need. These three levels are defined as:

  1. Latent pain/need – buyer doesn’t know what they need, or that a solution is even possible
  2. Active pain/need – buyer realizes that there is a problem or opportunity, but doesn’t know of a solution
  3. Vision of solution – buyer has a solution in mind, but may or may not have a provider/vendor in mind

Potential customers/clients need to be approached very differently depending on their level of need. The difference between a latent need and a active need is HOPE. It’s a salespersons job to create hope.

95% of potential customers in most markets have no hope or VISION of a solution. They may have a latent need or pain, but they don’t have a vision of how that pain can be alleviated. Therefore 95% of potential customers aren’t looking for a solution. It’s in this space where the most sales opportunities exist. It’s a salespersons job to help a potential customer realize a shared vision. However, this process takes time, hard work, and earned trust and respect. This book provides great examples and strategies for moving clients through the 3 levels of need.

The One Minute Sales Person (Spencer Johnson)
This quick read, originally published in 1984, focuses on basic concepts and approaches that are easy to comprehend, but not always easy to adhere to. The main emphasis is Johnson’s “One Minute secret” that the key to selling is not selling… it’s helping people fell good about buying. Yes it’s essentially semantics, but the underlying message is an important concept to understand. Johnson also wrote the widely popular Who Moved My Cheese?