Once you’ve developed a solid product or service that solves your customers’ most persistent problems, it may seem like selling your solution will be a piece of cake. However, the sales landscape is in a constant state of evolution. Which method is the most relevant to your business and gets your product/service sale across the finish line most efficiently?
Solution selling is a more traditional sales method. Value selling is a hot concept in the technology industry, as is outcome-based selling. Instead of pushing product features and incentives down a prospect’s throat, they are more focused on the business outcomes that businesses are looking to achieve.
In today’s world, following sales best practices means going beyond reactive, more transactional sales habits to create the optimal sales process. While it may seem like these three selling methods are synonymous or interchangeable, they are actually three distinct pillars that make up a modern, robust sales strategy. Understanding how these selling styles relate to one another (and their limitations) can help your team better support customers throughout the sales funnel and ultimately grow your customer accounts and install base more efficiently and effectively.
What Is Solution Selling?
Solution selling is when you sell solutions that address your customers’ problems comes second nature for modern sales teams. Taking a customer service approach and asking, “How can we help you?” is a powerful way to connect your product’s features and functionalities with your customer’s most pressing issues. While viewing your customer more holistically makes it easier to build a relationship and showcase your value, this sales strategy isn’t as impactful as it used to be. It typically leads to heavy customization and frequently leads to unsolicited requests for proposals (RFPs).
Developing a long-term relationship with your customer and providing consultative value has become more challenging. Prospects often do most of their research before speaking with a sales rep, so they don’t need or want to be sold on the features and widgets.
Creating a relationship with customers and showcasing a commitment to solving their problems is essential to building recurring sales. However, solution selling alone falls short because it puts your sales team in a reactive position.
Limitations of Solution Selling
- Oftentimes lead to heavy customization and low adoption rates
- Customization cuts into the profit margin
- Fulfillment, maintenance, and support become more difficult over time
- The relationship can become at risk when updates are needed
What Is Value Selling?
Rather than focusing on solving a specific problem, value selling concentrates first and foremost on delivering ROI. Cost concerns for adopting SaaS solutions are widespread. Value selling emphasizes savings over a competitor’s offering, the monetary value of new growth streams, or lowering customer costs by improving efficiency.
Many customers aren’t willing to wait a year or two to see returns anymore. This sales approach focuses on the short term, aiming to answer the question, “How do I achieve ROI faster?” However, the focus on the short-term sale (and ROI) can hinder the ongoing relationship with your customer since there are tons of factors that impact ROI, and success is rarely guaranteed.
While every company cares about ROI, not every person (like operations leaders) finds high ROI the most compelling reason to purchase a product or service.
Limitations of Value Selling
- Difficult to quantify ROI without access to customer’s financial data
- Must have access to the finance team early in the sales process
- Overlooks product’s operational benefits that are harder to quantify monetarily
- Weaker customer relationship
What Is Outcome Selling?
While solution selling focuses on asking the customer, “How can we help you?” outcome selling says to customers, “This is how we can help you.”
Outcome selling goes beyond showing the dollar value that your product or service offers a prospect. Instead, it demonstrates how your solution contributes to successful business outcomes, meets KPIs, and helps customers achieve their financial goals.
This proactive sales strategy showcases the overarching value of your product while focusing on a relationship with your customer. It focuses on providing long-term growth and success, which may mean sacrificing short-term ROI.
If your company subscribes to the land, adopt, expand, renew (LAER) selling model, outcome selling plays a crucial role in ensuring adoption and focusing on product stickiness, even if ROI takes longer to manifest. When outcomes are realized, there’s a high chance of maintaining a robust and ongoing customer relationship for years to come.