Solution selling has served business-to-business marketers well since Frank Watts first developed the basics of the methodology in the 1970s and started teaching it. Over the years since, the core principal has remained the same: focus on the potential customer's pains, problems, and concerns, then seek to address those problems with a product or service. That much has stayed consistent over the last 40 years and will probably stay consistent for the next 40—but what about the things that have changed?
Watts, Bosworth, and other early pioneers of the solution selling methodology weren't operating in a world where everything is plugged in and automated, where any person is seconds away by email, mobile, or texting. And they didn't have access to all the tools a modern salesperson can use in making that connection, supplying that solution, and completing the sale. Let's take a look at some broad areas of the solution selling process and how they've changed:
- Prospecting and diagnosing customer needs: Whether you're collecting surveys from new prospects, collating feedback from existing customers, or just looking closely at what industry faces are saying on social media sites, this part of solution selling has received a major boost from modern technology—gathering information has never been easier.
- Gaining access: It is much easier to exchange a few emails—or maybe even tweets—with a decision-maker to discuss problems and potential solutions than it was to arrange a meeting of the minds in days past.
- Showing your work: There are countless tools available for the accurate assessment of a product or solution's success rate and average ROI; having access to hard numbers serves any salesperson well in their endeavors
- Sealing the deal: Selling automation can keep headaches from developing in the final stretch of the sales process.