How to Turn Problems Into More Sales
Become a problem solver and watch your sales grow!
Being an optimist by choice, I don’t usually recommend that people spend much time focusing on problems. In the case of making additional sales to our customers however, it’s a great idea. I’m sure you’re scratching your head right now trying to figure out my point. Let me explain.
Consultative selling, the powerful selling methodology that emerged in the early 90’s, is based on the idea that to sell something, you have to be able to demonstrate how it’s going to solve someone’s problem, challenge or issue. Companies were quick to get on the bandwagon by touting that they sell “solutions” but in most cases, it’s nothing more that marketing lip service. How can they sell solutions when their salespeople don’t even know what their customers’ specific problems are? Many sales forces promote solutions in search of problems. The right way, of course, is to find the problems and then show our customers how we can help.
This selling strategy requires some research and preparation to do effectively. There are 3 steps:
Start with a crystal clear understanding of what your competitive advantages are. Where do you have a leg up on our competition? It might be better selection, higher quality or time savings. Naturally your competitive advantages will vary according to the local branch and competitive landscape. You need to know how you compare to your competition’s strengths and weaknesses if you are going to persuade a customer to use your company over them.
Now, for each competitive advantage, ask, “What problems does this solve for the customer?” Keep drilling down by asking “So what?” until you think you’ve hit an issue that is of high importance to your customer. Often, it will boil down to factors such as saving time, saving money, increasing quality or reducing hassle. If you have a competitive advantage of an easy, quick and hassle free order system, you ask again, “So what?”. You might answer that this means that he saves time & money allowing him to focus on more important priorities in his role at his own business. Bingo! You’ve hit on problems that your customer deeply cares about. The last step ties everything together.
The final step in this process is to come up with a set of pre-planned questions that you can ask your customer that will uncover a problem, issue or challenge in this area. In this example, you might ask, “How do you go about ordering product currently” You might continue with something like, “How much time does that take you do you think?” or “Does that take away from your other responsibilities in your role?” The customer replies with, “Yeah. I spend a few hours per week doing it I guess.” You follow with, “Well, does that affect your costs and productivity?” Depending on his answer, you might respond with, “So would it help if you could work with a company that has an easier ordering system?” “Sure it would,” the customer might say. You then explain how we can help and provide some proof.
The beautiful thing about this strategy is that you are uncovering problems that you know you have a solution for, almost like a consultant, hence the term “consultative selling.” “Sounds great but does it work in the real world?” you ask? You bet it does. This technique is the gold standard for selling around the world and across virtually all industries.
Good selling involves leveraging your competitive strengths. To get customers to buy from us and/or pay more for our products, we have to give them good reasons to. Your ability to help them solve a problem, overcome a challenge or reach an important goal will motivate them to choose us over our competition. When you master the powerful and proven consultative selling approach, watch your sales grow!