The Harvard Business Review (HBR) announcing 'The End to Solution Selling' a year ago has a number of experts in b2b selling scratching their heads. Could it all be just a matter of wordsmithing, or are we headed into a new era of b2b selling?
All in the definition . .An 'artificial definition' of solution selling may be at the root of this new theory of b2b selling. One sales expert has never seen the definition of solution selling limited 'to starting with a customer who has identified they have a problem, discover their needs, solve the problem.' [Brock] Solution selling has always been about helping customers see new possibilities. The successful solution sales person comes to the customer with ideas, discovers problems and opportunities, and demonstrates new approaches. The selling model described by authors of the HBR article is actually closer to transactional selling than solution selling. Ineffective solution selling creating sales cycles that are more transactional is their real issue. [Kurlan]
A lack of understanding . .Authors of a future-looking article on b2b selling who use the dated term 'reps' for sales professionals don't show much understanding of modern day selling. And the article is:
- about selling complex technology solutions
- based on big company sales forces selling to other big companies
A wake-up call . .No question, the days of the sales pitch pushing canned solutions ('Happy Meals') are gone. You still have to discover the customer needs and priorities and shape a value-based solution, [Brock] it's just that now you have to do it in a speed tunnel with everything changing around you.
'More than ever, salespeople need content that breaks the status quo and empowers them to challenge and engage their clients and prospects.' WickwareThe HBR article is actually a wake-up call to solution sellers everywhere. You're operating in a different world now than when the technique was developed. In this New World:
- customers have far more access to up-to-date information on their situation, needs, and available solutions
- all the forces that affect good decisions on product solutions to problems are changing rapidly at all times
- customer organizations that succeed in this ever-evolving environment move quickly, adapt well, and need sales professionals who do the same