Selling Outcomes Before Solutions
The Refined Art of Solution Selling—Outcomes First
Been on the receiving end of a sales pitch that dives straight into the product, its features, and the “greatness” of the company? It's not just exhausting but… it simply doesn’t work. This all-too-familiar approach often ends with the buyers saying something like this.
“Thank you, you’ve given us a lot to think about. Let us talk internally and get back to you.”
“Wholly cow! That was a lot of info! You guys sound like everyone else—blah, blah, blah. Goodbye.
Solution Selling is not out of date—it probably never will be. “Solution Selling” is not about “Selling your Solution.” It’s an approach—a way of engaging the buyer so that they feel you understand them before you start peddling your products.
It's time to turn the narrative around and put outcomes at the forefront. Leading with a solution-selling mindset is critical for selling anything beyond a “simple decision” purchase. It's all about understanding the customer’s needs—delving into their pain points and future visions. Yet, an endless barrage of questions can be just as ineffective as leading with a product.
The key lies in striking the right balance. The magic word? Outcomes.
And, for heaven's sake, don't start the conversation with “Let me start with an overview of our company and products." I see this approach so often, and it’s so, so wrong. Start with asking the buyers a few questions about their pain. Ask about why they are looking and what they are trying to achieve.
Once the initial conversation is underway, and the salesperson has gleaned a basic understanding of the client's needs, it's crucial to swiftly shift gears. Transitioning to the potential outcomes that your product or service can deliver to give them a beacon of hope.
Consider this example:
“From our discussion, I think we can help. Typically, we reduce the time it takes for marketing teams to roll out quarterly document updates by 250% within two quarters. In some cases, we've seen improvements of up to 400%.”
Statements like these serve as pivotal moments in the conversation. They inspire confidence in the buyer, ensuring them that they're on the right path. This tactic not only establishes credibility but also facilitates deeper dialogue.
A few nuances to note while delivering the outcome-based pitch:
Refine Your Outcome Messages
Plan your outcome-based messages in advance. Determine the primary challenges your solution addresses. While it could be one primary message or several, the main idea is to keep it simple.
Use the X to Y by Z Formula
An effective method to convey your message is by saying, “On average, we decrease the time taken for task X by Y% over Z months.” This provides a concise and easily comprehensible metric that potential clients can relate to. For more on this, Jill Konrath’s “Agile Selling” is a treasure trove. Her Value Proposition Toolkit focuses on crafting these impactful messages. Explore more on her site: Jill Konrath's Agile Selling. Here a link: https://www.jillkonrath.com/agile-selling.
Art of Delivery
Seamlessly weave your outcome messages into the conversation. Elegance over forcefulness. Ask questions that logically lead to your message and, once delivered, revert to questions that refocus on the client's needs.
Sidestep the Product Trap
After sharing the outcome, avoid the temptation to dive deep into the product. It's easy to veer off course into product specifics and pricing. The spotlight should remain on the client’s challenges, vision—and outcomes. There’s plenty of time to get into the details once you’ve established some credibility and trust.
To wrap up, a quick story: A few years ago, our team was exploring an inbound marketing strategy. We collaborated with a great little agency based in Philadelphia, specializing in inbound marketing and automation. While I was convinced about their expertise, they were looking for a pretty big commitment. But the sales lead, Eric, crystallized their value, stating, “Pete, we foresee boosting your organic visits from X to Y by year-end.” Y was a staggering 650% jump from X, which sealed the deal. I was sold.
Hope you have your best year ever.
CEO, Accent Technologies