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Solution Selling: Creating Buyers in Difficult Selling Markets Hardcover – September 22, 1994
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Solution Selling is the most comprehensive sales and sales management process available today. Mike Bosworth has the best understanding of sales process in corporate America.''--Fisher, Jeffrey M. "Vice President, Symix Computer Systems "
Solution Selling is an excellent vehicle to teach new salespeople critical sales skills and allow experienced salespeople to fine tune their skills. Solution Selling is the best methodology I've seen for placing emphasis on business issues rather than product.''--Gorshi, Dan "Sales Manager, AT&T Global Business Communications Systems "
From the Back Cover
When products or services are hard to describe, intangible, have long sell cycles, or are expensive, chances are they're difficult to sell. In situations like this, conventional sales techniques not only don't help, they may in fact hinder success. Solution Selling is a process to take the guesswork out of difficult-to-sell, intangible products and services. It enables sellers to make the way they sell as big an advantage as their product or service. After reading this book, salespeople and sales managers will be able to use a well-tested model that guides them through the process of selling. No more smoke and mirrors, blind luck, or high-pressure selling. Just a step-by-step system that ensures a higher rate of success for salespeople and a higher probability that the buyer's expectations will be met.
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The emphasis here is on solving a buyer's need as against trying to sell him a product/service. Bosworth says that the sales person should act as a buying facilitator or consultant intent on helping the customer solve his need -he talks about 3 levels of buyer needs- and then presenting his product/service as one that will solve the problem. That way, in the mind of the buyer, the salesperson has more integrity and the buyer gains confidence in the intent of the salesperson, i.e., a "spray and pray" approach isn't the one to take.
Bosworth indentifies what he calls as the "10 faces of pain"; these are the ones that make the salesperson's job a difficult one. They are,
1. Latent Need (buyer doesn't know the need)
2. Price Negotiation (haggling buyer)
3. Cold call 'window of opportunity' (cold call, Argg!)
4. Organizational interdependence and access to power (the particular buyer you're in touch with do not have much buying power)
5. Product or service viewed as 'commodity'
6. Requests for proposal (often, responding to this is a waste of time and energy)
7. Free education (some prospects use you to know more about what's out there in the market)
8. Buyer gets cold feet
9. Booking appointments over the phone (difficult to do)
10. Buyer has been to negotiating school (hard negotiators)
So what's Bosworth's solution to these pains?
1. Recognize the Three Levels of Buyer Need (need that is hidden; need which the buyer is conscious about; the third need is vision related)
2. Features, Advantages, and Benefits (make sure you're coming across as someone interested in solving the prospect's problem and not merely trotting out your features)
3. Participate in the Buyer's Vision
4. Solution Selling Tools (use them effectively)
5. Align With the Buyer's Shifting Concerns (you've to be in sync with the thoughts and concerns of the buyer)
6. Lead the Buyer and Stay Strategically Aligned
7. Advance the Buyer's Vision With Value Justification
8. Control the Process, Not the Buyer
9. Draw the Line in Price Negotiations
10. Implement the Solution Selling Process (which is the sum of all of the above)
The book is divided into 3 parts; part 1 is about the pains encountered in the selling process; part 2 is about the suggestions to overcome them; part 3 is shows field examples.
A capable salesperson would know all of this --minus the specific tools and approaches he mentions here-- naturally; the book can be used to validate their beliefs. For the others, it will open them up to a new way of thinking about sales.
I read a relatively recent article online where Bosworth dumps his previous approaches and says that stories are the way to go; "You use your storytelling ability to retell the customer's story, and then confirm - by asking - whether you've actually got the story right. Then, and only then, are you ready to sell, because then you can retell the customer story with a different ending or a new sequel, with your offering playing a role in the story." Now you know that he is a master salesman and a storyteller who is selling the world new ways to sell!
Solution Selling is to Selling the same as Do It Marketing is to Marketing... Simply some of the Best Advice out there.
Gets the ball rolling for thinking, though.
Not as revolutionary as the publisher makes it seem!
Good book though.
I am an experienced consultant who has just taken on sales and market development responsibilities within my company. I had a definite idea of what sales meant, and I was not at all sure that I liked it. One of my colleagues recommended Solution Selling as a good book to help build some perspective on my new position.
Many people talk about solution sales, but when you come right down to it they do little more than attempt to move hardware. I was delighted to see the same techniques and skills that I use in consulting coming back as the sales skills in the Bosworth book. His steps and tools seem both intuitive and logical.
I have a feeling that this is a book that I will be going back to in the coming year!