Factors to Consider in Consultative or Solution Selling


Solution Selling picture with trees

For anyone in solution selling aka consultative selling – the picture above speaks for itself. (click on it to see in higher resolution).

I find that it evidently highlights the difficulties of selling complex solutions, typically IT-related ones, and how each key actor in the sales and pre-sales process ‘interprets’ needs differently.  The comical part being the difference between “how the customer explained it” and “what the customer really needed“!!  This is the crux of consultative selling.

Consultative or solution selling is a major point of discussion for many corporations, especially in the IT-related sector.  Having worked in a few of them, the shift from classic or relationship-selling to consultative-selling is a ubiquitous problem, existant in all industries, including telecommunications and travel.

Managers invest heavily in training programs to coach their sales forces to shift their habits, but old habits die hard.  A possible shift can really only occur if a few variables are put into place, notably:

  • State-of-mind, because understanding there is a need to change is the first of many steps – some say its half the battle!
  • Practice, Practice, Practice! Sales is a collage of human understanding, psychology, sociology, and possibly a sprinkle of street-smarts
  • …and a sincere desire to win;

Bundle all of that into a personal work-ethic recipe, breath it like air, and you’re closing-in to the ball-park of success.  Research estimates that to be become a pro or expert at something, you need to practice 10,000 hours at doing something – whatever it might be. To put that in perspective, at an average of 4 hours of practice a day: that takes 2500 days or 7 years!

What I have described below is not ground-breaking or anything extra-ordinarily new, but building good habits means reminding oneself constantly of the basics.

Hope it helps and would love to hear your comments.

1. Customer Speaks First!

Before knowing what you are selling, you first need to know what the customer thinks is valuable.  Complex solutions don’t just come-off-the-shelf, they need to be customized!

2. Present the BIG picture….NOT products!

Give a nice well-rounded view of your world so they know who they are getting in bed with. And try to do all of that in less than 15 minutes!

3. Uniqueness

Value in the eye of the beholder significantly increases if they think what they are getting is rare or precious. Think Ferrari or diamonds!  Also means that they HAVE to come to you for what your selling or settle for something different or less-valuable.

4. Promotions

In-line with the Uniqueness dimension, this time though, it is not about you, the company or the product. Its about TIME!

5. Likeable

Back to good old relationship-sellingCharisma.  People buy from who they like, and in the end, you’re charisma is what can tilt the scales in your favor vs. a dull and bitter seasoned salesman.

From experience, if you are able to apply all 5 principals every time then you’re close to the path of success.  But its not that simple! Easy on paper, Hard in practice.  Constant reminding oneself of these principals and attempting to apply them consciously every time is what will get you as close as possible to ‘sales nirvana‘…in a perfect world that is. And we all know that sales situations in reality are far from perfect.

In the next posts of this series, I will go more in detail for each of the 5 principals, in an attempt to show the underlying reasoning behind each one. Keep posted!








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