REAL Solution Selling

Don’t believe everything you’re told!

Larry Ellison, Oracle’s Co-Founder, is said to have ‘banned’ the word solution from Oracle sales 20 years ago because, as he put it: “A ‘solution’ is like dissolving sugar in tea.  What you mean is Products and Services…. Get it right!”

But regardless, Customers and Prospects keep asking for ‘Solutions’, and every Sales Leader wants their team solution selling, not product selling because it helps them to:

  • Build the most value and increase average order values
  • Helps Prospects and Customers buy most efficiently and reduce sales cycle times
  • Demonstrates a focus on resolving Customers’ and Prospects’ pain points – behaviours that increase win rates


But ask salespeople, and they’ll say – “But I am solution selling, Boss”!

…because they’re doing what they’ve been told to do.

Your Sales People aren’t getting the full picture

1. Marketing & Product Marketing are taking sales down a rabbit hole

Marketing & Product Marketing approaches have taken over the word ‘Solutions’ and sprinkle them everywhere when they should be talking about Products and Services.

‘Real Solutions’ reflected in Customer Stories are few and far between.

Salespeople are therefore talking about Marketing Solutions, not real Customer & Prospect solutions…but they don’t realise it.

Customers and Prospects know the difference!

And they’re bored of something that get’s called a solution when it’s not a solution for them.

2. Consultative selling and REAL solution selling are not the same thing

Sales people may be great at Consultative selling and don’t get me wrong, that’s an essential selling skill.

But it’s not REAL Solution selling.

Because REAL Solution selling requires two more things that we can learn from our Customers and Prospects

Learning from all the times when Boards have rejected your recommended ‘Solution’

How many times have you seen a recommendation for your ‘Solution’ go up for ‘Board Approval’ only to see it come back down…? Not approved.  More work is needed, and the close date shifts a month, a quarter or more?

The top 3 reasons are:

  1. “I don’t think we’re ‘ready’” – “It’s not the right time.”
  2. “I don’t believe we have the expertise to manage the change – and we’re crap at change.”
  3. “You haven’t fully considered the effort we’ll need to put in.”  

Sound familiar?

What ‘The Board’ (usually one or more of the MD, CEO, CFO, COO, Chairman) mean is:

  1. “You haven’t proposed a robust solution for the parts of this programme where we know 80% of technology-based programmes fail……Change” or
  2. “You haven’t demonstrated the urgent need to do this now” or

The answer is to add two critical elements:

3 Ball Solution v Product

1. REAL Solutions have 4 components – People, Process, Technology & Commercial

Face up to the reality the Board faces and create Solutions with Customers and Prospects that address all four elements of a solution, right from the 1st conversation.

2. Join the dots

Work hand-in-glove with Customers and Prospects to join the dots between Problems, Risks and Aspirations.  The masterful use of ‘Pain and Solution maps’ with Clients combined with sales storytelling will demonstrate the urgency for the Board to take action

What we can expect...

We’ll often get push-back from Customers and Prospects when talking early about People and Process change

Decades of Product selling have conditioned Buyers to focus on Product features and implementation plans…. SSQ’s, RFPs and ITTs tell that story.

Change is an uncomfortable conversation

So be ready to explain why a Prospect needs to think differently about their solution and guide them from the start.  Mentioning how we address all four dimensions of a ‘Real Solution’ to avoid the 80% risk of failure may help.

We all know what happens if we don’t do this – Decision Makers will almost certainly bounce it back later, it’ll all take longer, deals will keep bouncing, and forecasts will keep getting missed.

Want to find out how you can convert more and convert faster selling ‘REAL Solutions’?

With 35 years of learning best practices and 20 years coaching salespeople, I can help you get started.
Just 30 minutes on a call
And there’s no fee.


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