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Is Your Sales Team Struggling to Sell Solutions?
We are decades into the shift to a consultative or solution sales approach. Yet, many sales teams still struggle to move beyond simply pitching their products or services. I hear about this struggle from executives all the time and wrote about it in my recent Harvard Business Review article Is Your Sales Team Struggling to Sell Solutions?, which hit this week’s hotlist on HBR.
Selling solutions first requires that you create value for the customer by helping them to think differently or more broadly about issues or opportunities. With a new perspective comes an opportunity to provide solutions that will deliver better outcomes and results.
Why is it so challenging for sales organizations to shift to selling solutions?
  1. It is far more difficult to do well than most realize. It takes considerable effort and commitment to move beyond pitching and closing toward successfully executing a strategic sales process.
  2. It is not central to business strategy and doesn’t get proper focus. How you sell can be as differentiating as what you sell. Ask yourself, how will our sales experience create value?
  3. Sales management and leadership practices don’t support the consultative sale. Metrics, coaching, and strategy need to be conducive to a solution selling process.
The blame doesn’t belong solely to the sales team for a lack of consultative selling. It is the responsibility of leadership to guide the transition to selling solutions. Sales can’t do it by themselves. If you can address the three challenges listed above, you will shift towards a high-performing solution sales organization.
Read more about this here in the article Is Your Sales Team Struggling to Sell Solutions?
You can also check out my LinkedIn Live recording from earlier this week for more on this topic HERE.
The Value of Speech
One of the most important things I learned in college was the value of speech. During my time on the college speech team, I watched students win championships with topics I found incredibly dull.
But the topic itself was never the reason anyone would win. Instead, it was their perspective on the topic, how they expressed the ideas, and strong delivery that made them compelling. I won bronze medals at the National Championships with speeches about the societal value of public restrooms and martial arts training. Whether the intent is to entertain, inform, or persuade, how we form ideas and convey them makes all the difference in how the audience receives them.
Being thoughtful about what you are going to communicate and how you will do it gives you the power to:
  • Compel others to action
  • Bring out the best in people
  • Provoke or stimulate different thinking
  • Generate excitement
Don’t wait to invest in your ability to communicate powerfully and broadly. Be disciplined and strive to get better. The need for improvement is never done.
Email Sense
Stop forwarding emails without a clear explanation of why you are re-routing that email to a new recipient. People receive far too many emails as it is. So, making your contact figure out why you are forwarding it in the first place is inefficient at best, and annoying or frustrating at worst.
I worked with someone years ago that would forward emails and add something like “Thoughts?” or “Your take?” This is just a little bit better as your intention is clear, but it’s lazy. It shifts the responsibility to the receiver to provide a more detailed reply when perhaps you need to think something through before asking.
Instead, provide the reason you are sharing. If it’s purely informational, say so with an FYI, so the recipient doesn’t feel they need to act or respond. If you want them to consider something, state your preference and request that. If you genuinely just want thoughts, perhaps you can share your own ideas and invite them to build on them. Otherwise, it seems like you are simply trying to shift your work to someone else.
Current Read
I’ve gone back and forth on New Year’s resolutions. Some years I have a single resolution that drives my focus. Other years I have resolutions broken out by categories. Still other years I’ve tried the “keep doing, stop doing, start doing” approach. Any approach can work if you are committed to the resolution.
In a recent Harvard Business review article, Elizabeth Grace Saunders discusses how resolutions can feel pointless because they are often set and then forgotten. Yet, this does not mean they are unattainable or cannot positively change your life. Saunders mentions tips to help increase the odds of a successful resolution such as picking one or two specific actions, getting support, and tracking your progress. Read more tips in the article Should You Even Bother with New Year’s Resolutions This Year?

Edinger Consulting