‘Hey! Look at us! We have the best blog for you to learn everything you need to know about solutions selling, product selling, and B2B SaaS sales!’
What was your first thought when you read this?
We are sure all you inferred from it was, ‘Hey! I am great. Read me. Blah blah!’ We’ll also bet our bottom dollar that you wanted to close the tab right away.
That is exactly what happens when you focus all your energy, effort, and time on selling your product and not understanding what your customers really want from you.
Trying to sell your product is creating more harm than you can imagine. You might have a super cool product, and your first instinct is to rattle your list, share all the features, pricing plans, and how you differ from the rest with the latest tech. But all that your prospects hear is, 'I'm the best! Pick me, pick me, pick me. I must sell this product and move to the next James, Larry, or Elen.'
Then, what is the other approach? Solutions selling, where you evaluate how your product can solve your customer's issues more effectively. Now, your prospects hear, 'I'm listening to you and want to solve your problems. I'm here for you!' 85% of B2B sellers consider solutions selling an essential skill they must cultivate.
To clarify and help you understand the difference between the two, we're here for you! Come on, hope on, and we will take a ride.
What is Solutions Selling?
Solutions selling focuses more on conveying solutions of your product to your customers than what the product includes.
You emphasize the different ways the product can meet each customer’s needs. It is understanding what resonates with your prospects and showing how your product can meet their requirements.
Active research shows that 83% of potential buyers prefer sales representatives who concentrate on assisting them in achieving their goals rather than merely guiding them through their issues. Furthermore, 79% of buyers expect sales representatives to act as trusted advisors, going beyond the conventional sales role.
Sales representatives involved in solutions selling focus on:
- Providing more in-depth, long-term reasons for purchasing the product
- Identifying the customer’s pain points and how their product can help solve them
- Making your product sound not like a product but like an asset
- The impact or return on investment (ROI) they might expect
- Offering a big picture and not a short-term sale
For example, let’s quickly go to our superheroes for rescue. When you want to convey your passion for the Marvel franchise, you will start with how they are the greatest superheroes of the Earth and the different villains they fought and saved the Earth. Here the narrator is the seller with a solution-selling approach, who understood your need to know more about Marvel superheroes and decided to talk about the outcome of their actions! Your aim here is to motivate your friend to join your Marvel fan club. Long-term!
Pros of Solutions Selling in B2B Sales
- Customers feel valued in the process, not just like they're just being sold features
- Customers get answers to their problems and leave with satisfaction
- Makes the entire process more engaging and creates a difference from other sales demo calls
- Sales executives can get a better understanding of customer's paint points
- Helps gather more insight about your prospects and customers by asking the right and relevant questions
- Focuses beyond features, more on value and how the product is resourceful
- Gain the trust of the customers as it takes the customer<> solution comes first approach rather than sales quota<> product sold approach
- Increases the customer lifetime value and retention as customers realize that your product is a good fit for their business
- Lets the product sell itself because of the solution it offers, and customers realize it on their own
- Uses a tailored approach to selling
Cons of Solutions Selling in B2B Sales
- Requires extensive research on what works well for your prospects
- Takes more time to sell the product with a solution-selling approach
- Follows a question-and-answer format, this can lead to a conversation that does not flow naturally
What is Product Selling?
Product selling is when the sales executive focuses more on the product features, pricing, and what it does technically. They don’t get into the benefits or the value it does to solve the pain points of your customers.
For example, if I want to purchase a Marvel action figure for a niece, and you’re a fan, you would jump right into the details of the action figure. Get a Captain America Funko POP, no shield, but movable arms, etc. Here you’re a product seller who wants me to buy the action figure, not knowing if my niece is a Captain America fan girl or a Funko POP kind of fan girl.
Pros of Product Selling in B2B Sales
- The pitch is all set and does not change. Easy for every salesperson to master with less preparatio.
- Works best for products that have easy-to-explain features and very simple to understand
- Very rewarding method to sell based on price as a differentiator
- Offers immediate gratification and emphasizes the what over the why
Cons of Product Selling in B2B Sales
- Not as engaging as the concept of solutions selling
- Makes customer's pain points less relevant as it does not answer client questions
- Emphasizes more on features over the value the product offers
- Gives less clear picture to the salespeople and prospective customers as they cannot determine which is the best fit to position their product that resonates with the clients
- Focuses more on the short-term and not on the long-term value of a customer
Solutions Selling and Product Selling: The Difference in Each B2B Sales Stage
The approach between product selling and solutions selling differs from the kind of product you want to sell. If you are selling fast-moving products which only require a little explanation, product selling works fine—for example, retail goods.
Whereas if your product falls under the B2B category, especially if it involves highly customized packages or complex technology, then solutions selling is your best approach.
But it's more than that. In reality, both approaches vary in every step of the B2B sales process.
Let's look at how the two approaches vary in practice during every sales process step.
The lead qualification stage is the first step towards whether or not you can close the deal. Here is where the sales professionals determine whether or not the prospect is the right for your product and your business.
Solution Selling Approach
In the solution-selling approach, the sales professionals understand the customer’s pain points first and then decide whether their product is the right solution for their business. Or they would determine what about their product works well with the prospects.
Quick example of how solutions selling works in the qualification stage:
Let's say you're a salesperson selling a marketing automation software solution to a potential customer who runs a small business. In the qualification stage, your goal is to determine whether the customer has a need for your solution and whether they have the budget and authority to make the purchase.
During your initial conversation with the customer, you ask questions like:
- Can you tell me a bit about your current marketing process?
- What challenges are you facing with your current system?
- How much time and resources do you currently spend on managing your marketing campaigns?
- What is your budget for implementing a new marketing automation solution?
Based on their responses, you can build a picture of whether your solution would fit their needs well. You can also start to identify any objections or concerns they might have about making the purchase.
Product Selling Approach
When selling a product, the seller typically emphasizes the features and provides a description of the item while also inquiring whether the customer intends to make a purchase.
Quick example of how product selling works in the qualification stage:
“Hello! Are you looking for a marketing automation solution that can help you prioritize your leads and increase your ROI? Our software includes a powerful lead-scoring feature that can do just that. Moreover, this feature is included in our basic package, so you won't have to pay extra for it.
And if you're interested in add-ons, we have great news. We offer a special rate of $35 for add-ons, which is a savings of $15 compared to our regular rate of $50.”
“You have to understand customer needs before they understand your technologies” – Steven Haines, Founder and CEO - Business Acumen Institute.
The pitch stage is about convincing your prospects why your product works well for them and helping them realize it is the right choice.
Solution Selling Approach
Solution selling directs you to pitch the benefits and outcome, making it more customer-centric. Of course, you can mention the features in a way that makes the customers visualize how it will make them achieve their goals. Here, every pitch is customized, and there is no one-size-fit-for-all approach.
Quick example of how solutions selling works in the pitch stage:
“Hey! You’ve already mentioned that you are concerned that your current team members are making less than 50 email campaigns a month because of the performance issues you’ve experienced with your current email marketing tool and the amount of manual efforts you have to invest in collating the contact list.
We can double the performance of your email marketing campaigns through automation. With predefined templates that will help your email marketers get a head start and also a readily available contact list, it will be easier and more efficient to launch email campaigns. At your current closing rate, that could mean an extra $5,000 of revenue for every campaign.
You can also see all these features and experience them for yourself with our interactive product demos, which helps you get a better understanding.”
Product Selling Approach
Product selling is the exact opposite. The pitch is already there; you just have to dust it and use it again. There is less or almost no personalization. Product sellers' pitches are more technical, pricing oriented and talks about what features one's product comprises.
Quick example of how product selling works in the pitch stage:
“Our marketing automation solution is equipped with email marketing templates, lead generation, lead nurturing, and more. We also use reporting and analytics to track the performance of campaigns.”
How you sell matters. What your process is matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with your matters more. – Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce
The product demonstration stage is where you can put a period on telling customers what your product or solution can do instead of how it is in action.
Solution Selling Approach
This is where you can create a major impact. Personalized demos speak a thousand words more than long product demo calls/presentations or even videos, for that matter. Solution sellers will create a personalized product demo for every prospect and will show them exactly how the product will solve their issues.
Pro tip: Check out how interactive product demos can be a great way to share personalized product demos that your prospects actually want to see.
Quick example of how solutions selling works in the product demonstration stage:
“I understand that you have expressed concerns about reporting, as you feel that you don't have enough visibility into your staff's workload. Is that correct?
I'd like to introduce you to our software and demonstrate how it addresses this issue. With our software, you can access all the necessary data from multiple sources, which is then collected, processed, and presented in a comprehensive dashboard for your convenience”.
Product Selling Approach
Whereas a product seller uses the same standard, already used demo/presentation/video/tutorial to every client. In most cases, the demos might even be missed to tweak details specific to the industry and needs!
Quick example of how product selling works in the product demonstration stage:
“Welcome to our dashboard! This is where you can access all the key features. You have the option to import data, assign roles, generate reports, and perform calculations”.
If you don’t take care of your customer, your competitor will – Bob Hooey, Global Speaker, CVP - Ideaman.
Negotiation & Deal Closure
Yes! We have reached the final stage, the sweet spot of closing the deal and signing off on agreeable terms.
Solution Selling Approach
Solution sellers look at opportunities in the big picture, making them open to constructive negotiation. They value customer's needs before closing deals, so they frame the right combination of features, pricing, and subscription for them to get the most out of it. Since they are active listeners, they handle objections without getting demotivated and think of how to build trust with the customers.
Quick example of how solutions selling works in the negotiation & deal closure stage:
“Let me confirm, your budget per user is $200, correct?
Since you mentioned that you already have a contact management solution, we can exclude that feature. Additionally, I can remove some of the reporting features that you mentioned you may not need. With these adjustments, the cost per user would be $189. Does this align with your budget requirements?”
Product Selling Approach
Product sellers are waiting for the closing of the deal. Though that's what all Sales teams wants, they are so keen on closing the deal that they negotiate so much. Whatever it takes to close the deal, they are okay with it but not understanding what the customer actually wants. They also try to upsell more features, apps, mobility solutions, and integration, not realizing if there is an actual need for the customer or not.
Quick example of how product selling works in the negotiation & deal closure stage:
“Yes! We can offer you that change in pricing if you pick our other add-ons too. However, with that tier, you will receive the complete package, which includes the reporting and analysis feature, along with five seats for your users”.
Solution Selling vs. Product Selling: Which One Is Right for Your B2B Business?
When it comes to B2B SaaS sales, emphasizing solutions rather than products is typically the most effective approach for sales representatives to take. However, this does not mean that sales reps should overlook the technical intricacies of the solutions they offer. It's important to recognize that each customer is unique and may have varying levels of interest in pricing and features.
Sales leaders also often choose insight selling as a strategy. This approach involves sales representatives assisting potential customers in identifying previously unrecognized needs rather than simply addressing their known needs.
But the true advantage of a solution-selling methodology is its customer-centric approach. It centers on the individual needs and preferences of each customer, providing a tailored sales experience. Rather than generic features and benefits, every sale should be personalized and focused on meeting the customer's specific requirements. As Steve Jobs right puts it across, “Get closer than ever to your customer. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.” And you can achieve this easily with the solutions selling approach.