The Application/Solution Focused Sale
We at Kernow, providers of Value-added solutions, know that we must provide our customers with the reasons why they should go with our solutions that are NOT necessarily the lowest cost BUT have the highest value. For the last 40+ years we have succeeded by solving the customer’s problems! We focus on Application/Problem solving for our customers and provide them with not just a product but a solution!
Let Kernow Help You Tackle Your Sales Challenges!
We all know that Customers have challenges; we at Kernow feel the best way to help our Customers increase their sales is by providing our material and services wrapped into solutions that ultimately help drive revenue, minimize downtime and set the stage for repeat business. There are numerous books and articles on Solution Selling and it is a fairly easy topic to write about but a much harder topic to execute on.
Being a Solutions Provider IS the Differentiator
Today most media salespeople are using four primary tools to interact with their Customers: phone, e-mail, FTP, and their car. These are the most cost effective tools in order to communicate with Customers and are certainly the best ways to continue to move the sales cycle forward. As we all know, there has been a great technological progress on all tools, especially in the last decade; mobile phones have gone from straightforward verbal communication to smartphones, where salespeople not only access e-mail but have the ability to generate entire quotes or send information from virtually anywhere. The issue with smartphones, e-mail, FTP, and a car is that every Media salesperson has these tools – there is no real differentiation. That is where being a Solution Provider is key to being a differentiator to the customer.
Collaboration Leads to Customer Satisfaction
New Media orders cover the gamut, from the very simple sales order for material on the shelf, to an extremely complex process which has multiple mile posts, including trails which could take years to close. Regardless of which order type, the Media salesperson must always provide the highest level of service to the Customer, but we must handle the order differently due to the complexity of the potential order. It is not possible or practical to treat all potential orders the same because our labour is typically the largest expense. Most organizations must find ways to reduce costs. A good example is Banks – they have installed ATM machines and are offering online banking to reduce labour and increase service to customers; Media providers must do the same to enable both organizations to win. To make this easier, let’s assume there are two kinds of Media orders: easy and complex. An easy order can be completed by a customer with no assistance from the Media rep, i.e. 2 cartons of material they have ordered numerous times before. A complex order requires some degree of collaboration and potentially project management. What is important is that the complex media order requires much collaboration with the customer and when finally delivered, it is most likely to solve a Customer issue. The goal is to satisfy the Customer by providing a Solution Focused and Value-added Sale, which should in turn provide value to both the provider and the end customer.
Selling Solutions vs. Things
In all successful Application Focused Sales Processes the first challenge is to define your customer’s issues and show them how you are qualified to solve them. Your sales team needs to follow the process and solve these customer challenges, then watch how their thinking starts to evolve and their behaviour changes over time to Selling Solutions vs. Media. Both the Provider and the Customers are trying to grow their business. They are using the media or service we are providing to help them solve a requirement and to provide a service to their end use customer. As a Media provider we usually don’t know the entire life cycle of how the customer is using our media or service, but the more we know the better. Trouble is, as we are all aware, customers usually keep as much of the information close to their vest. That’s why we should attempt to provide as much support as possible and offer additional assistance and services if the customer is willing.
The Value of Defining Challenges Out of the Gate
How do you “get acknowledgement” for the value-add you already deliver to the customer and provide your sales team with opportunities that lead to a new way of thinking? Start by defining the customer challenges; what is the customer currently struggling with and how could our media or service provide a better solution to solve their issue? This is a great way to start any new sales opportunity. Most customers will appreciate you following a detailed solution-based process and the fact that you will hold their hand through it. Many clients want collaboration, project management, and procurement and if you offer that support and the measures during all the various activities you are doing on their behalf, your odds of winning the Application/Solution Focused Sales is greatly increased.
As mentioned earlier, adding this Application/Solution Focused Sale to all other common sales support tools like smartphone, e-mail, FTP, etc. is key. This process will allow you to show your value-added work, get credit for your efforts and increase your value to your customers. Sales is about solving customer’s challenges and bringing them an Application Focused Solution, by being able to show value better than the competition. Gaining the order from the Customer and keeping their loyalty is about reducing their issues, showering them with kindness and making it as easy as possible to do business with. It really comes down to changing from being an order taker to providing a better solution for your customers. This can be accomplished by being an Application/Solution Focused Sales professional.
-Kernow Sales Team