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Forget Your Product: Start Selling 'Solutions' Instead…

Transforming your team’s approach to sales requires a shift from just pushing products to creating genuine connections with people. And those genuine connections don’t include fraud and mistrust.

Related: 5 Ways to Align Marketing With Sales to Close More Deals

Along those lines, consider how 2016 had its share of the shady sales practices that dog the business world. From the Wells Fargo case of opening fraudulent accounts, to the allegations surrounding Trump University throughout the recent election, multiple examples of unfair sales tactics made front-page headlines on a regular basis last year. And 2017 probably won’t be much different.

The latest dust-up? It’s hitting the pharmaceutical industry, where Alexion Pharmaceuticals has been accused of falsely inflating the success of its drug, Soliris, which now costs $455,000 for a year’s worth of treatment. This is the second class-action lawsuit to hit the company since November, and its stock market share has taken a serious hit.

While these examples may seem like extreme aberrations, the culture that incentivized them is not. Many companies have archaic systems and compensation strategies in place that drive sales teams to act in ways that aren’t in their customers’ best interest.

But sales don’t happen in a silo. All departments — from marketing to research and development to customer service — have to work with sales to create true value for customers.

And that’s a message that has to be spread, because the way the world does business today is changing at a rapid pace, and buyers’ expectations are changing right along with it. In turn, ill-equipped companies tend to respond to these increased pressures by doubling down on old practices and hoping for the best.

But that old way of operating is not sustainable. To achieve the aggressive sales growth that many companies require, sales departments need to stop trying to sell products and start selling solutions.

The difference a solution can make

At first, the difference between selling a product and selling a solution may not be apparent — after all, aren’t most products created to solve problems?

But most products are designed as one-size-fits-all solutions. Rather than working to fit each individual customer’s needs, products are usually made to be “good enough” for the widest audience. Solutions, however, combine products and services. They’re designed to help the customer every step of the way, ensuring that each customer’s unique problems are solved by the journey’s end.

Selling a solution requires that companies fundamentally change how they do business: Instead of pushing products, they must create genuine connections with other people. The solution-selling methodology requires lasting relationships with clients in which the goal is always to find new ways to help.

Solution selling in action

I’ve seen the benefits of this system firsthand, watching my sales representatives help customers unearth and comprehend their most compelling problems. Switching to this methodology has forced our company to take steps to recognize and end the cross-functional dysfunction that previously went unnoticed.


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