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HBR says "It's the End of Solution Sales" -- Why It's Time to Consider Insight Selling

Posted by Robert Beckerman
Robert Beckerman
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An article published in the Harvard Business Review brings to light many of the issues associated with the traditional style of "solution selling". In it, the HBR discusses how buying trends have shifted significantly over the past few years, rendering the solution sales model increasingly ineffective. For sales managers who wish to learn how to increase sales, the lessons in the HBR article are invaluable.

How it used to work

Years ago, "solution selling" was a successful strategy for sales teams. The idea that a salesperson could inform customers about a comprehensive solution was both valuable to customers and lucrative for sales teams. Under this model, salespeople served as industry experts for customers who trusted that the salesperson had the specialized knowledge necessary to provide the customer with precisely the solution they needed. Ultimately, salespeople became de facto consultants on specific elements of a customer's business.

Solution selling worked for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most significant reason was the fact that customers had few reliable alternatives with which to educate themselves about a product or industry they were unfamiliar with. Salespeople largely served as the gatekeepers of that information, and so their specialized expertise was invaluable to customers. Today, however, the Internet has made it possible for everyone with an Internet connection to do a great deal of research before ever speaking to a salesperson. In fact, about 60% of B2B customers do extensive research before even speaking with a potential supplier. This game-changing development has necessitated a shift in how sales teams operate, and the specific value they bring to the table when speaking with customers. (See How to Increase Sales by Turning Your Sales Reps Into an Insight Sales Team)

Why it's time to switch to Insight Selling

While it is true that some significant roles of salespeople have largely disappeared in this new age of readily-available information, there are still crucially important roles, both existing and emerging, that salespeople play in the overall purchasing process. The key difference now is that sales people must disrupt the current framework that buyers have established with their own research. They do this by introducing risks that need to be mitigated, new opportunities to take advantage of, or other engagements of interest to stimulate the sharing of feedback.

The entire customer experience must now be carefully planned so that value is consistently delivered regardless of the rep’s personal style. Key insights are gathered from all calls and meetings and turned into data and used managing sales effectiveness.

How the Insight Sales Process makes your sales team more effective

The trend towards Insight Selling is clearly underway. However, it can be difficult for salespeople and even sales managers to switch to a new way of thinking, particularly when they have done things a certain way for their entire careers.

The Insight Sales Process™ is so important because it provides a standard for optimizing and standardizing the discovery process. All key insights are outlined. All expected responses are defined. Alignment of strategy and value are triggered in a consistent way to provide a baseline of metrics for learning and continuous improvement.

The Insight Sales Process™ allows the entire sales team (including the sales manager) to work together to define exactly which key insights they need to identify for different customer segments. The process creates a fully-customized framework within which each salesperson can use their unique sales skills to provide valuable information and consultation to customers. Best of all, the Insight Sales Process provides metrics for sales effectiveness improvement so that you can pinpoint roadblocks in a sales rep’s activity and quickly correct for maximum productivity.



Topics: Sales Effectiveness, Insight Sales Process, Sales Process & Performance