In traditional sales pitches, it is far too common to drone on about statistics and product features without ever learning why the buyer is interested in the product in the first place. That changed in the 1980s, when a man had the revolutionary idea of adding empathy to the corporate sales model and solution selling was born.
Unsurprisingly, this sales strategy, based on human emotions and trust building, remains relevant today — whether you're selling software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions worth millions of dollars or electronics at Best Buy.
This guide discusses solution selling, its pros and cons, and the tips and techniques you can use to implement this strategy successfully within your sales force.
When to use solution selling?
Solution selling is best suited to situations where:
- Buyers need a custom solution.
- Buyers need support and insights throughout the sales process.
- Your product or solution has a lot of variables and add-ons.
The pros and cons of solution-based selling
To help you decide whether the solution selling methodology is suitable for your product or service, here are some pros and cons:
- Solution selling makes the sales process more buyer-friendly and keeps prospects engaged.
- This methodology aims to provide a comprehensive long-term solution instead of a quick fix. According to Salesforce, 90% of reps on high-performing sales teams are encouraged to build long-term customer relationships instead of focusing on short-term wins.
- This sales strategy is excellent for selling SaaS solutions and other complex products that require educating prospects.
- A well-developed solution selling training system and knowledge base already exists, as this technique has been around since the 1980s.
- Solutions selling is suitable for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) as well as large enterprises.
- Solution selling requires sales professionals to have in-depth knowledge of complicated product features. Not being able to answer buyer questions can negatively impact the deal.
- This sales approach requires more customer research and has a longer sales cadence than other models.
- Buyers are more informed nowadays and often do not need sales reps to devise a solution. As per Gartner, B2B buyers spend 45% of their time researching solutions independently during the buying process.
How to sell solutions, not products?
Here are some tips and techniques to help you get started with solution selling:
Identify specific pain points with open-ended questions
Discovering the buyer’s pain points is perhaps the most critical step in the solution selling process. Preparing questions in advance will help you get a feel for the buyer’s problems and how your product might be able to solve them. These questions should be open-ended to get as much information from the prospect as possible, but try to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
Have complete knowledge of your product or service
With solution selling, salespeople must match products and features to the prospect’s problems. This step is only possible if they fully understand their product and its unique selling points. Top sales representatives will familiarize themselves with the product beyond its basic features and deeply understand its pricing, customizations, use cases, and how it compares to the competition.
Use storytelling to build a narrative
Storytelling isn’t just for amusement; it's a fundamental part of being human. It’s how we try to make sense of the world around us. Building a narrative around your product can make you stand out from the competition, help the prospect better understand the value of your product, and, best of all, make your sales pitch memorable.
Educate the buyer on the value your product can provide
Apart from storytelling, you can also use case studies, reviews from previous customers, and return on investment (ROI) calculators to highlight your product’s value. The goal is to make the buyer realize the benefits of your product to their business, whether that's reduced operational costs or a more productive workforce.
Use product demos to show how your solution solves the problem
Product demos are one of the best ways to show potential customers exactly how your product can solve their unique pain points. Using the information you have gathered, you can personalize these demos to each buyer and watch as they have their “aha!” moment in the middle of your presentation.
Handle objections and close the deal
Overcoming objections is a routine part of the sales process. To do this step well and close the deal, give benefit-driven responses. Try to bring the conversation back to the prospect’s problems and how much they stand to gain from purchasing your product.
Craft deal-winning product demos with Demostack
Are you tired of using your engineering resources to create and maintain demo environments only to get embarrassing surprises during live presentations? Demostack can help.
With the Demostack platform, you can spin up a demo environment within minutes to aid your solution selling strategy. You can then customize the demo to highlight your product’s most relevant features and give customers the confidence to buy by showing how well you understand their pain points. To top it all off, you also get demo success metrics and insight into what resonated with clients the most.
Don’t be shy. If you'd like to see a demo, let us know.
Frequently asked questions
What is a product vs. a solution?
A product is hardware or software you’ve created and is typically an off-the-shelf offering. A solution is a customizable product or combination of products that can be tailored to help businesses solve their problems.
How does solution selling compare to other selling models?
Here’s how solution selling compares to other selling models:
- Solution selling vs. consultative selling: Solution selling focuses on selling a solution, whereas consultative selling is all about building trust and acting as an advisor to the prospect. There is some overlap between the two models.
- Solution selling vs. product selling: Product selling strategies hope to make sales by highlighting the product, its features, and the price point. Solution selling, in contrast, makes sales by presenting the product as a solution to a prospect’s pain points.
- Solution selling vs. value selling: Solution selling involves pitching the solution to solve business problems. Value selling concentrates on showing a prospect that the solution’s value outweighs the cost.