selling the solution

Selling the Solution, Not the Product in 5 Easy Steps

VA Partners has been assisting firms with their B2B sales efforts for more than a decade now. One of the things we have recognized over the years is that you need to be selling the solution instead of the product. The distinction in some cases can be difficult to make but as an example, we have a client that provides truck rental services to industrial and construction customers. In their case, we are not selling just a “rental truck”, we are selling the solution that helps companies manage their fleet needs in the short, medium and long-term.

Below are 5 key points that may help you better align your messaging and book more meetings.


1. Consider the Customer’s Pain Points

Understanding your prospects’ business pain is key. The better your understand, the better your ability will be to service their needs. A customer may call in with a simple issue like, “I can’t access my wireless router.” A very simple answer could be “reset your router”. However, the same challenge could be the result of a larger business pain. Perhaps their wifi network isn’t producing a signal. This can lead to a considerable amount of lost productivity. It would only be through probing questions and simply inquiring as to the extent of the challenge that you can gain a better grasp of the prospects needs.

2. When Selling the Solution, Engage, Then Inform

When first contacting your prospect, ensure your message targets the business pains the prospect is facing right at the beginning. You want to try to capture that person’s eye (or ear) right away whether it be via email, InMail or telephone. The goal is to encourage your prospect to read and/or hear more about what you have to offer.

3. Focus on Selling the Solution, not Products

A product or service sale results from solving a problem. Whether it be a person or a company, you don’t buy the bottle of vitamin water because you like the colour. You purchase it as a means to quench your thirst. The drink is a solution to being thirsty.

4. Highlight Your Differences

Just because your solution can solve their business challenge, it doesn’t mean you have the only solution on the market. You need to be able to position yourself against your competitors and convince the prospect that your solution is the best one. Be sure to highlight how you can help, your differences and be specific. Don’t make statements like, “We have the best customer service.” These statements mean little and are overused. Add some quantitative measures into your pitch. This could be a customer service rating or perhaps a link to the product reviews on Facebook or Yelp.

A better example is:

“We have 12 customers in the healthcare space and on average, each customer we have has been able to reduce their utility expenses by 54% with no capital cost. This is a tremendous savings.”

The other point to make is that even if there is is not a direct competitor to your solution, remember, there are indirect competitors and everyone is vying for a share of the budget.

5. Sell the True Value

We often recommend to customers that when building your value proposition, focus your attention on hitting core items that show a business value. We believe a solid value proposition needs to be underpinned on one or more of these four fundamental business drivers.

  1. Drive revenues
  2. Reduce expenses
  3. Create an efficiency
  4. Mitigate a risk

When building your story, quantitatively include metrics that would resonate with the customer and are hitting on one or more of the four key areas above. One of our industrial clients has developed a new solution to an industrial challenge that is 50% more expensive. The traditional solution cost $500,000 while their new solution cost $750,000. That sounds negative, but it isn’t. In this case, when the customer needs to have this aspect of their plant fixed, it costs $1 million per day when the operation is down. Under the traditional method, to repair and then get this part of the plant up and running again it can take 6 to 10 days. So that downtime cost is between $6 and 10 million plus the $500,000. The new solution reduces plant downtime to 3 days. So the total downtime cost of the new solution is $3 million plus the $750,000. So what is the better option for the plant owner – $6.5 million as a best case using traditional technology or $3.75 million using this new solution? The answer is pretty clear but the key here is that you have to explore the whole story, the real value to the customer.

Good luck with your solution selling and if you are in need of assistance from a sales and marketing perspective feel free to contact me. I would be happy to see if we can help. Alternatively, if you are simply looking for a source of excellent sales and marketing information, please feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.

This blog post was originally written by Marc DeAmorim and was posted on September 7, 2012. The content has since been updated by Steve Gruber.

Selling the Solution, Not the Product in 5 Easy Steps