You hear the word “solution” a lot. Everyone offers some kind of a solution. Whether you sell a complex piece of computer equipment or a handkerchief, you have a solution. The problem is that when everyone says the same thing, it becomes background noise… For example, “we offer the best customer service,” is really meaningless because everyone says it. So does that mean everyone's "solutions" make actual SOLUTIONS as meaningless as self-described great customer service? Possibly. But...a light went off for me at Selling Power Magazine’s recent Sales Leadership Conference. There, Ken Powell (Sr. VP at ADP) referenced the book, "The Mind of the Customer" by Richard Hodge and Lou Schachter. My copy of the book is on its way to me, but I couldn't wait to share this bit of information...it's just too valuable... Ken told us that the book talks about the recent history of sales. He said it looks a little bit like this…
- In the 1980’s customers had needs that were addressed by products
- In the 1990’s they had problems that were addressed by solutions (there’s that word)
- In the 2000’s they sought results and now...
- They’re looking to accelerate those results.
I like that. It’s no longer just about the solution. Yes, people still have needs and problems, but it’s not just about finding a solution. It’s about installing the solution as quickly as possible in an effort to drive results. That’s because people are having to do more and more with less and less. If you’re going to remain viable, you can’t just offer a solution. This explains why metrics are so important. In fact, they're so important that you should consider including the results you provide in your Direct Value Statement. In order for someone to buy from you (at least in the B2B world), you need to prove one of two things:
- Your offering will drive revenue.
- Your offering will reduce costs.
And today, you'd better show that you'll do one, the other, or both more quickly. So...Are you accelerating results?