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Solution Sales On Steroids

April 25, 2013

A recent article, I recommend, from the Harvard Business Review unlocks the secret that many top performers have known for some time.  Although the title End of Solution Sales, infers an end of an era and a needed change in the sales approach, it’s truly simply an adjustment sales people have always faced and top performers have been able to identify and respond to.

It’s finding the right problem and offering the right solution, even when the client does not recognize it themselves. The article’s premise is that today’s buyer has done the research, identified their problem, researched the solution and has made 60% of the purchasing decision before they speak to a sales person; so when the prospect is that far along then they are simply looking for a bid from your company.

Top performers have the ability to recognize the true internal need for the client and help the client meet the needs of the future. He can find problems or conditions of the solution the client thought met their needs and help the client understand the true impact their solution may have on the company, preparing them with better fit solutions for problems the client did not previously recognize.

Top Performers (TP) are masters at putting Solutions Sales on Steroids. I have seen an average sales rep uncover a problem and not even respond, but go right into the company’s typical feature/benefit sales spiel that so many companies focus on in sales training. Traditionally we teach our sales reps about the product, its features and benefits and send them off into the wilderness to find their target.  The difficulty here is that a representative may have followed the sales process and never get the contract, because they did not adapt themselves to the situation.  A sales process, when structured solely on products, features and benefits or problem-solution, lock and key fit to products, leaves little room for the creativity necessary to be a TP.

As sales managers, we need to give our sales team the ability to be more creative and allow them to be adaptable to all situations.  Good sales managers and top performers both recognize that the sales process is a road map and NOT a railroad track.   A TP also knows enough about business and technology to be creative.

Give your sales team the ability to be more adaptable and more creative by having the group list all the possible and typical problems or issues that top business positions have. Understand each position and each level and their priorities first, rather than focus on what your solution does.  Write these down.

Here are some examples of top concerns by position:

Procurement Positions

  1.  Keeping as little inventory in stock, while
  2. Keeping product in stock and
  3. Keeping within budget and
  4. Making sure the boss is happy


  1. Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow
  2. Remaining compliant and out of trouble
  3. Keeping all costs down
  4. Making sure the boss is happy.


  1. Generating revenue
  2. Controlling costs
  3. Motivating employees
  4. Remaining compliant
  5. All of the above

The next step of the group is to develop effective questions related to the issues and to develop solutions for each one.

Getting the picture?

Don’t stop here.

Keep going; there are always other problems and solutions your team has not yet thought of.  Keep the list to work on at every sales meeting and seek out new problems.  Help your team forecast problems for your business prospect.

What’s happening in their market we can help them prepare for?

How is the market trending?

What legislation, technology, tax, etc. will impact your client?

What’s happening in the world around them?

Let the creative juices flow.  By creating a demand for a problem (opportunity) that was not seen before and helping the client to recognize the need, the deal will often close itself.

Get your new Sales Process and Road Map started today.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 20, 2013 10:16 pm

    First of all I want to say superb blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing. I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out.
    I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any ideas or hints? Appreciate it!

    • July 21, 2013 3:01 pm

      Thanks for the comment. Write from what you know, seen, and what you truly believe, and you cannot go wrong. Give me a call sometime, and we can discuss. All the best.

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