Solution selling is like vanilla ice cream. Everyone knows what it is – it’s simple and meets the most basic criteria for a dessert. Here’s the thing: if you and all of your competitors are using the vanilla ice cream approach to selling, you’re missing an opportunity to showcase your unique value and improve win rates. Is it time for a more interesting and unique flavor of selling – or is it time for a more tantalizing flavor of product management to differentiate the way you sell?
Solution selling has long been the norm in B2B. (Identify customer problems, communicate how your products or services solve those problems, then articulate the benefits.) It’s not wrong or bad. In fact, it’s good. Just not good enough to differentiate, especially if everyone else is doing the same thing.
Products solve problems, and customers want to solve problems. But there’s something much bigger and more important than solving problems – and that’s understanding their business goals. WHAT are they ultimately trying to accomplish and WHY are those goals critical to the success of their business?
A Typical Sales Scenario
Let’s say a prospective customer calls you for a document management solution. It’s obvious that they want to get better at managing documents. The real question is WHAT are they trying to accomplish by getting better at document management and WHY is it critical to the success of their organization from the top down? Answers to those questions are where you’ll find the real aspirations of your buyers.
Take that same scenario and apply traditional solution selling techniques. Instead of first uncovering the big WHAT and WHY strategic aspirations, the conversation usually goes straight to the tactics. What are you currently using to manage documents today? Where are your biggest problems? How do you do…?It’s a very tactical conversation to which you already know most of the answers.
The difference from customer to customer is not so much about HOW they want manage documents. It’s more about WHY getting better at document management is valuable to the organization. If the customer is a manufacturer, the real value may be protecting intellectual property across a global supply chain. If the customer is a pharmaceutical company, the real value may be related to FDA compliance and/or shrinking their time to market for new drugs.
Changing the Conversation From the Start
Let’s step back for a moment and look upstream into how your organization does product management. If the mantra of product management follows traditional practices, you’re identifying customer problems and building products and features to solve them. Your marketing messages and sales process are a direct reflection of how you do product management – identify tactical problems and deliver product solutions with tactical benefits.
What if your product management function made the top-to-bottom business goals of your target customers the center of their universe?
Here’s the difference: when the starting point is the customers’ strategic business goals, the conversation quickly goes to the biggest obstacles standing in the way of those goals. If you’re a product manager, those are the obstacles you consistently want to eliminate so that everything you deliver has measurable business value to the customer. It’s a can’t-miss approach, and you’ll always know the BIG reason WHY those goals and obstacles are important to the customers’ success beyond the obvious tactical benefits.
The dialogue that begins in product management is invariably the same dialogue that comes out of marketing and sales. If you want to use your sales process to differentiate in a way that’s more energizing and inspiring for your buyers, start by changing the focus of product management from customer problems to customer business goals, then watch your win rate go up.
That’s what separates the Proficientz Product Management Framework and Product Management University training programs from all others. The top-down business goals of your target customers are the focal point of your product, marketing and sales functions. It’s a can’t-miss approach that guarantees you’re delivering, marketing, selling and implementing solutions with high strategic value.