How do you differentiate your company on a product that you sell from your competition? Currently you are offering the same, winning against competition on thin margins or free bees. The differentiation is when your selling becomes “helping customers to buy” or providing a “solution” to their problems or needs. “Solution” is a combination of products or services.
Remember Solutions will vary for each verticals. The brand and product preference for the hospitality vertical will be different from other verticals like banking, education, healthcare, government etc. So having people with right vertical knowledge is important to build the solution matrix. Most companies will have a product matrix ready and the challenge is how to transform this product matrix to solution matrix for various verticals.
Before we establish the transformation road map let us understand the type of buyers.
Ignorant Type: Buyer who is ignorant, not sure if they have a problem or if a better way of doing things exist. Someone may have tried offering some products but it didn’t solve the problem.
Seeking Improvement Type: Buyer who is aware of the current situation and they are seeking solution to improve their situation
Expert Buyers: Buyer who are having a solution vision and researched thoroughly to come up with a well-established solution Request for Proposal (RFP).
For all the above types of buyers the sales process, efforts and techniques vary. Solution Sales Selling – SPIN technique is the right approach for the above two types of buyers. But when dealing with expert buyers you need the Challenger Sales Strategy.
The need of time is to challenge the buyer if they have chosen the right solution, have they missed something in the RFP? Opening dialogue with buyer is key here to redefine the solution and help them to join the missing doted lines.
Nowadays we are encountering expert buyers and you can imagine if a product selling company will stand any chance in front of them. These expert buyers need solution providers who have ready-made solutions. The companies which are still in product selling don’t even stand a chance here as they may even struggle to understand the solution defined in the RFP. To win these expert buyers you need eagle sales people in your company. The best seller who executes the right selling strategy and process will win.
The transformation road map for building the solution matrix has three pillars – Process, Technology Solution Research and People (Sales, Pre-Sales and Post Sales). Right people and Team collaboration is key to its success because situational knowledge, capability knowledge, people skills and selling skills comes from the team. The ideal way is to identify the right team members for building the solution matrix from the sales, pre-sales and post-sales teams.
You need a mix of people with leadership qualities with situational knowledge (vertical expertise,aware of pain areas for customers, market technology trends, etc.), capability knowledge (product specialist who can help in integration with other products, creative ideas, budget conscious), people skills (leaders with good teamwork, vendor management, mentors) and selling skills (who can align with the buyer types and adopt the right selling methodology, align to market demands, foresee future trends).
Wrong team selection will have direct effect on the maturity of the solution matrix. Always understand that the solution matrix is in continuous improvement process; companies which adopt the latest and stable technology will have a winning edge over the competitions. In a solution-driven company, people are exchanging innovative ideas, creating agile relationships, and collaborating as a team.
This team would need well-defined reward and recognition program which will motivate them to come up with new and better solutions. At all level the team need to be engaged with buyers helping then to buy the right solution. Buyer’s pain areas are never-ending and so continuous engagement will help is developing a partnership with buyers.
The transformation process also need right training and certifications for the teams. Finally all the theory learned needs to be put into practice, undergo the continuous process improvements and measure the success.