Prospects love having their problems solved.
They’re not interested in the next shiny tool, they’re only checking if your product is useful to them.
Which plan should they opt for and why?
Would the starter plan provide them all the benefits based on their requirements?
They want you to hear them, understand them and then pitch the perfect solution. Seems like a lot of work? Welcome into the world of solution selling.
In this article, we’ll uncover:
- 5-steps for a successful solution selling process
- 3 modern solution selling strategies
What is solution selling?
Solution selling is a sales methodology through which salespeople prioritize their prospects’ needs and offer them the exact solution they need based on their challenges. Simply put, solution selling focuses on:
- Providing value. Instead of focusing on product features, solution selling emphasizes the prospect’s pain points and what kind of solutions could bring them ROI.
- Understanding prospect’s needs. Once the salesperson understands the exact pain points of the customer, they can offer them custom solutions for their problem.
Key Differences Between Solution Selling and Product Selling
Are you educating the potential customer about your product's features and benefits? Or are you guiding them on buying the right solution? Or, are you doing both the things together?
Here are the key differences between product selling and solution selling you should know about:
In product selling:
- Sellers focus on selling the product and its features.
- Sellers spend less time asking questions and more time talking about the product prices and features.
- Sellers spend more time pitching to prospects.
- Sellers focus on selling the solution and address how the product features benefit the customers.
- Sellers spend more time on research and lead qualification.
- Sellers spend more time developing relationships with customers.
Solution Selling Process: 5 Essential Steps
Solution selling focuses on speaking to customers, understanding their needs and providing them with personalized suggestions (based on their needs). Here are the 5 solution selling implementation steps to follow:
Step 1: Gain Product Knowledge
Know your product in and out. Doing so, you’ll gain in-depth product knowledge and suggest the right solution to the prospects (based on their challenges).
- What is the product's price, and the ROI it can bring to the customer?
- What are the different use cases?
- What are the core features of the product?
- How do these features benefit the prospect in their daily workflow?
- How will the product work for a specific set of audiences?
The sales reps should know these answers about the product before they set up the sales call with the prospect.
Imagine the sales rep giving half-baked product information to the prospect. They'll be misguided, and won't get the right solution they were looking for — you'll end up losing the prospect. Who wants that to happen?
So, make sure to gain product knowledge. Here's how:
- Get product walkthroughs: Understand how to use the product to its full potential. How to navigate through the tool, how to use a specific feature, and how it will help the customer.
- Read customer testimonials: Focus on what the customer liked about the product, and how the product has helped them.
- Read case studies: Has your company featured a case study on its website? Read through these case studies and focus on three elements: the problem the product solved, the solution, and how it achieved the result.
- Go through online learning resources: Video tutorials and knowledge base — they'll help you understand the product in-depth. Once you have received the product training, use these online resources to understand the aspects of the product you may have missed out on.
Step 2: Identify the Prospect’s Pain Points
Now, you need to study your prospects:
- What is their daily workflow?
- What are the challenges they come across?
These questions reveal where they face roadblocks or pain points. Only when you understand their pain points, you'll be able to suggest to them the right solution and show them the power of your product that helps in achieving the ideal solution.
And how to do this?
Talk to customer success teams.
Get insights from customer success teams on how existing customers are leveraging the product and the challenges they come up with.
1. Read G2 reviews.
If your product is listed on G2 and customers have shared their reviews about the product, see what they are saying. The best part of G2 reviews is that it asks questions like:
- What do you like the best about the product?
- What do you dislike about the product?
- What problem is the product solving and how is that benefitting you?
These questions will help you scour information on customer pain points, which you can use to communicate with your prospects.
2. Leverage social listening.
See what customers are saying about you on social media. Do they like the product and share positive reviews? Or, are they disliking the product and sharing their frustrations with you? The best way is to use Twitter and see what they have been tweeting while mentioning your brand.
3. Conduct surveys.
Collect information directly from customers. Use Typeform or Jotform, put your questions down, and share them with the customers. Once you receive submissions, review the responses and use them in your communication with the prospects.
4. Review past deals in CRM.
Review the past 'lost deals' and the reason you've added for losing the potential customer. It could be the price point, hesitation in decision-making, or concerns about the product being the right fit. Use these remarks in your sales conversation with the prospect.
Side note: This works when you (sales reps) use the CRM and add remarks for all the list deals.
Step 3: Ask the Right Selling Questions
With the right set of questions, you can identify customer needs quickly (which will help you offer them a personalized solution), develop a relationship with them, and qualify them.
Prospects don't like to hear about your product right at the start of the conversation. So instead, talk to them about their workflow, and move towards understanding their challenges.
Ask them open-ended questions like:
Let the prospect lead the conversation and share the response based on your questions. During this time, all you have to do is actively listen to them.
It is these questions that will help you land to a point where customers will share their challenges, and you can discuss the potential solution with them.
At this point, you can ask the prospects questions like, “Do you think you have found the right solution to this problem?”
If they respond with a yes, ask them the solution. Based on this response, your next question can be:
"What solution have you been using to address this problem?"
Once they have shared the response, you can respond with the next question:
"Are you satisfied with this solution, or do you feel you need a different solution to [their problem]"
The key here is to keep the conversation natural and focused on the customer. Dig deeper and uncover the information before presenting the right offering to them.
Before making the offer, ask yourself:
- Do the prospect's problems align with your product/ solution?
- What buyer's needs will the product/ solution solve?
💡Pro Tip: Present your offer only when you feel the prospect needs your solution. If you feel they don't need your solution, don't make the offer.
Step 4: Educate the Prospect and Provide Value
Your goal is to help the prospects reach this point where they can connect the dots between their problem and your company's solution.
What next? Are they ready to purchase your product yet? Not really.
Just arriving at a point where they know you provide a solution that could help them won't convert them.
You need to give them a concrete reason why they should trust your product and ultimately purchase it.
This is where you need to show them their future — what their future would look like by investing in your product.
For example, one of the major selling points for Storylane is to show prospects how they can energize their lead engine and increase their engagement rate on the website with the prospect by embedding an interactive product demo on their website.
Share with them case studies of your past clients with the same challenges as the prospect is facing. When you share with them how your product has helped past customers achieve great results, they'll be able to trust the product and may consider buying it.
Step 5: Close the Sale
Before the prospects turn into customers, they'll likely have sales objections that you need to address.
A simple way to do this is to:
- Review your past sales call transcripts
- Prepare better responses for a list of 10-15 common sales objections that you have addressed earlier
Once you have addressed these objections, you have won the customer and added more revenue to your ARR.
Top 3 Books on Solution Selling You Must Read
If you need more information on solution selling, refer to the following best reads based on Goodreads and Amazon ratings.
The SPIN Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Methods and Exercises and Resources by Neil Rackham
Goodreads Rating: 4.09
Amazon Rating: 4.6
In this book, Rackham talks about the SPIN (situation, problem, implication, need pay-off) strategy that focuses on high-end selling. He shares some easy-to-apply solution selling techniques that readers can implement in their sales volume from major accounts.
Some of the questions Rackham answers in this book include:
- What makes success in major sales?
- Why do techniques like closing work in small sales but fail in larger ones?
This book is a great guide to teach why the traditional sales process developed for smaller customer sales doesn’t work for bigger, enterprise-level customers. Packed with real-life examples and case studies, this book will teach you the ins and outs of SPIN selling.
Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets by Mike Bosworth
Goodreads rating: 3.95
Amazon rating: 4.1
This book shares a step-by-step system that teaches salespeople and sales managers about solution selling.
Many people are aware of the term solution selling but have no idea about how to switch the gears from conventional selling to selling value and not the product. That’s where this book comes in handy. The author shares tried and tested strategies that guide the readers and enable them to sell successfully.
The New Solution Selling: The Revolutionary Sales Process That is Changing the Way People Sell by Keith Eades
Goodreads rating: 3.88
Amazon rating: 4.3
This book is a practical guide for salespeople, sales managers, and executives to streamline their sales process. The author emphasizes the following topics in the book:
- Understanding your buyers, situations, and needs
- Sharing the right solutions with customers
- Gaining access to decision-makers
- Controlling the buying process
- Defining KPIs to measure the sales performance (and for sales forecasting)
3 Modern Solution Selling Strategies
While you'll read some of the best real-life examples in the above-mentioned books, we've listed out a few strategies that we have witnessed among sales reps in the SaaS industry lately.
So, here are the 3 solution selling strategies to follow:
Strategy 1: Opt for Consultative Approach
Gone are the days when salespeople used to chase prospects door-to-door. Yes, traditional selling has been replaced with virtual selling. But with this, what else changed is the way salespeople communicate with potential customers. They don’t insist prospects into buying their product. Instead, they understand the customer’s needs and suggest the right solution based on the customer’s needs. That’s consultative selling.
Isaac Robertson, Co-founder of Total Shape says, “One solution selling strategy that has proven highly effective for us is the consultative approach. Rather than simply pushing our products, we focus on understanding the unique needs of our customers. Our sales team actively engages with potential clients, asking questions, and genuinely listening to their concerns and fitness goals. By taking this approach, we can tailor our offerings to meet their specific needs, whether it's recommending the right workout equipment, suggesting suitable diet plans, or providing personalized fitness routines.
If you want to master the consultative selling approach, then do the following:
- Conduct comprehensive research on your prospect. Spend time on their company website and social media channels, and check customer reviews for their product on G2 and Capterra.
- Ask them open-ended questions that help you understand their challenges, the solutions they’ve tried in the past, and so on.
- Actively listen to potential customers. Once they’re done sharing their response to your questions, recommend them the solution that suits their needs the best.
Strategy 2: Build a Relationship with Social Prospecting
Earlier, cold calling and cold emailing were the only ways for sales professionals to sell besides the leads received via word of mouth. But ever since social media has joined the bandwagon, the way sales reps prospect has completely changed.
Adam Purvis, Account Manager at Coconut Software emphasizes how sales leaders are using LinkedIn to accelerate social prospecting. He says,
“Everyone is constantly glued to LinkedIn these days, and being an active and helpful LinkedIn user will help you stand out from the massive crowd of other salespeople.
Providing value and shedding love on LinkedIn posts will allow you to build trust with your prospects. When they inevitably comment or share a post on LinkedIn that references a problem their business or organization is dealing with that your solution solves for, you can leverage all of your prior engagement to generate a customized, effective, and warm solution selling pitch.”
However, many sales reps *also* use LinkedIn in a traditional way. Here's how:
- Find prospects matching their ICP
- Send them a connection request
- Sending the sales pitch right in the first message
Yikes. People will likely not respond to a sales pitch right at the start of the conversation. Why? Because sales reps haven't built rapport with them.
So, how can you leverage LinkedIn for social prospecting? Here's what the sales should have done instead:
- Find prospects matching your ICP.
- Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator and make a list of prospects who are active on LinkedIn.
- Go through the prospect's profile and drop meaningful comments on some of their recent posts (do this at least 4 times before sending them the first message).
- Send a personalized LinkedIn connection request telling them why you want to connect with them (remember, no sales pitch).
- Send them the first message after they accept the connection request (this message should be focused on them and not your product and sales pitch).
Strategy 3: Use product walkthroughs
More and more SaaS companies have been using product walkthroughs on their website to showcase the product's value upfront to prospects even before they meet a sales rep.
This helps both the sales rep and prospect save time for both the sales rep and prospect if the prospect is not the right fit.
Furthermore, you can use a pre-recorded product tour to showcase the prospects of the potential of a specific product during the sales call.
For example, Gong embeds a gated product walkthrough on its website. When the lead clicks on the 'Take platform tour' button, the prospect is taken to another screen asking for their email address. Once they enter their contact details, they get access to the walkthrough.
When the lead adds their email address to access the product tour, only people with business or work email get access. This is great from the perspective of lead qualification. The solution selling approach is highly resource-intensive, so no point spending all that time and energy on unqualified leads.
To embed a guided product walkthrough on your SaaS website, you need to choose a sales demo tool like Storylane.
Create the guided product tour inside the software by capturing your product screens. Once you publish the demo, you'll get a link that you can share with the prospects or embed on the website.
You can also embed a lead gen form along with the demo. This helps you collect the lead's details and qualify them further.
💡Pro tip: With Storylane, you can track session analytics that show the exact steps the lead took in your demo and the time they spent on each step.
Say Bye to Traditional Selling.
Practicing solution selling demands having product knowledge, understanding your customers' pain points, asking intelligent selling questions, and providing value to prospects.
When you do this right, you’ll close more sales as compared to your traditional way of selling. So, what’re you waiting for? Get your hands on the books we shared with you and implement the 3 solution selling strategies we shared with you and see your selling game improve.