Solution Selling® is a highly interactive training program for sales professionals, based on findings of buyer behavior research published in the best-seller book, "The Collaborative Sale: Solution Selling in a Buyer-Driven World."
Solution Selling® is a high-performance sales execution methodology, which includes supporting processes, tools, and critical skills development. Designed to keep the customer as the focus of every sales engagement, this program enables selling professionals to substantively increase win rates and revenue production by:
- Providing higher and differentiating value to buyers – not only by what they sell, but more importantly, how they engage with customers
- Aligning effectively with buyers at every stage of their purchase decision process
- Understanding the critical business issues or potential missed opportunities faced by each customer, and providing valuable insight for addressing those issues
- Engaging transparently with buyers throughout the buying process
- Co-creating valuable solutions with buyers
- Collaborating as equals with buyers throughout the selling process, to advise them effectively and efficiently to a good buying decision and business outcome
Solution Selling® is designed for direct sellers and their managers. It can be scaled and tailored for application to nearly every industry and selling situation – from short transactions to extended complex opportunities. The higher the need to differentiate sales teams in how they engage with customers, the better the fit for Solution Selling® content.
Why use Solution Selling®?
In today’s global marketplace, sales executives are asking themselves:
- How can we find enough opportunities to meet our sales goals?
- How can our sales team compete more effectively – and win more often?
- How can our company sell a broader set of our offerings to customers?
- How can our sellers increase the velocity of sales opportunities and close them sooner?
- How can our organization deliver higher levels of revenue and profit?
At the same time, buyers are becoming much more knowledgeable, empowered, and demanding in their dealings with sales professionals. In order to make a buying decision, they must:
- Have a compelling need to act
- Be able to quantify the impact and value of any purchase
- Know that they are selecting the optimal choice
- Be confident that they can implement the solution successfully, and realize benefits as expected
Sellers who are unable to fulfill these buyer demands lose deals – not just to direct competitors, but also to buyers’ decisions to take no action at all. Therefore, to compete in today’s tough marketplace, sales professionals need to:
- Find and connect with potential buyers in a useful way, using an optimum mix of social selling tools and traditional prospecting methods
- Provide valuable business insight about how they can address buyers’ problems or capitalize on a potential opportunity
- Develop agility to rapidly understand each buyer’s state and align behaviorally
- Quickly understand each customer’s critical business issues, and their causes and effects
- Identify the influencers and locus of power in each buying decision process
- Engage in meaningful sales conversations that help buyers develop a clear vision of solutions to their problems
- Collaboratively quantify the value of potential solutions with buyers
- Anticipate and mitigate buyer risks and provide a clear path to a decision
- Minimize discounts and concessions to protect margins at the close
- Manage sales pipelines and territories to ensure consistent revenue production
Solution Selling® addresses these selling challenges by fully aligning the sales professional’s behavior within each buyer’s decision process, and thus accelerating the time to results.
More than 1 million sales professionals use Solution Selling® around the world today, making it the acknowledged industry standard for effective sales execution methodology. According to surveys of our clients, organizations that adopt Solution Selling practices increase annualized sales productivity between 16 and 35 percent, on average – some organizations report even better results. Independent research by AberdeenGroup corroborates these findings – they discovered that, relative to competitive alternatives, Solution Selling® delivers higher sales quota attainment rates, larger average opportunity size, and faster ramp-up time to full sales productivity.
What is included in the Solution Selling® program?
During a Solution Selling® workshop, sales professionals and sales managers will learn:
- How and why buyer behavior has changed, making them more empowered than ever before
- How successful sellers, including the best of the best, align effectively with empowered buyers to produce consistently high results
- The three sales roles, or “personae,” needed to align with buyers, and when to employ them
- How to develop a personal brand built on situational fluency and expertise
- How to connect with early-stage buyers by using both social selling and traditional prospecting methods
- How to engage in valuable sales conversations that help buyers develop a clear vision of solutions to their problems
- How to collaborate with buyers to co-create and agree on solution value
- How to mitigate buyer’s perceptions of risk, in order to help them make a confident buying decision
- How to negotiate and close business while minimizing discounts and concessions
- How to evaluate sales opportunities and determine their quality
- How to implement and apply the principles of SS-TCE on an ongoing basis
Multiple Delivery Modality Options
Solution Selling® can be learned through live instructor-led training (ILT) workshops via virtual instructor-led training (vILT) sessions, or online through on-demand eLearning and video-based content.
We find that a blended learning approach that incorporates a mix of delivery modalities produces the best results. This minimizes any loss in selling time, as well as time spent in training activity, while maximizing participant understanding and application to real-world selling situations.
For ILT and vILT delivery, each SPI instructor has been certified to rigorous standards, and they each bring at least 15 years of sales and management experience to ensure their credibility and enhance facilitated discussions. Alternatively, SPI can certify client instructors for in-house delivery and coaching, at the client’s option.
Workshop Topical Agenda
Solution Selling® is a modular program, designed to be tailored to the unique requirements of each client. The standard instructor-led training workshop for Solution Selling® is a three-day, highly interactive program, although this can be tailored to meet client-specific requirements and limitations. The standard program includes:
- Introduction to Solution Selling® in the Collaborative Era
- Exercise: Introduction/Expectations
- The New Buyer
- How buyers buy behaviorally
- Situational Fluency, Sales Personae, and Dynamic Buyer-Aligned Sales Process
- Required competencies and processes
- The Micro-Marketer Persona
- Exercise: Creating your own brand
- Exercise: Select a team case
- Exercise: Organizational interdependence
- Demand Creation and Messaging
- Exercise: Develop messaging
- Exercise: Social media activities
- The Visualizer Persona
- Preparing for a sales conversation
- Exercise: Create capability visions
- Exercise: Identify differentiation
- Exercise: Create a call plan
- Day One Debrief
- Review Evening Assignments
- The Visualizer Persona (Continued)
- Establish value
- Conversation types
- Exercise: Prepare conversation opening
- Exercise: Role-play conversation opening
- Sales Conversation: Vision creation
- Exercise: Role-play vision creation
- Sales Conversation: V. Re-engineering
- Exercise: Role-Play: V. Re-engineering
- Sales Conversation: Vision enhancement
- The Value-Driver Persona
- Identify buying sponsorship
- Buyer communication email
- Collaboration plans
- Exercise: Create a collaboration plan
- Exercise: Create a buyer communication email
- Day Two Debrief
- Review day two exercises and assignments
- The Value-Driver Personae (Continued)
- The transition sale
- Value analysis and success criteria
- Exercise: Evolve the collaboration plan
- Negotiate Final agreement
- Exercise: Prepare for a final negotiation
- Team Presentations
- Finalize presentations
- Conduct presentations and debriefs
- Getting Started
- Assess sales opportunity quality
- Use Solution Selling® in the Collaborative Era
Solution Selling® typically includes a pre-workshop assignment consisting of some eLearning content and preparatory research on a live account or opportunity, for use as case studies in the workshop exercises. Participants work on the program exercises in teams to promote sharing of ideas and exchanges of best practices. Teams conduct structured peer reviews of exercise results, culminating in a final competitive presentation that illustrates an example application of program concepts.
The Solution Selling® workshop is designed to support adult learning principles. The program’s instructional materials facilitate participant understanding by using a mix of media to transmit and reinforce key learning points. SPI provides full-color training content in electronic interactive workbooks, for use on participants’ mobile devices or laptop computers, as well as color reference charts, animated presentations, and video content, where appropriate.
Useful Sales Tools and Job Aids
The Solution Selling® workshop incorporates the integrated use of SPI-Sales Process Playbooks – an easy-to-use, automated tool that includes a variety of helpful job aids. As participants complete the program, they capture the results of exercises in the SPI-Sales Process Playbooks application. After the workshop, sellers can use the application on an ongoing basis for effective use of the methodology with their own opportunities.
The job aids provided in the Solution Selling® program toolkit include:
- Account Profile – a document that captures key criteria for a target company, including the likely challenges that they are facing
- Key Players List – a listing by industry of important job titles along with the likely critical business issues which each job title will likely face
- Pain Chain™ – a graphical depiction of the cause-and-effect relationship of critical business issues (“pains”) inside an organization
- Business Development Tools – targeted scripts/prompters used to increase a seller’s success rate at stimulating buyer curiosity and interest
- Results Story – provides a seller with compelling business insights that build credibility with a buyer, and illustrates how the seller can provide value to the buyer
- Differentiation Grid – a tool that helps sellers to identify solution aspects that are both unique and valuable to a specific buyer
- Sales Conversation Prompter (also known as the Situational Fluency Prompter®) – guides sellers through effective, insightful, and collaborative conversations with buyers
- Sponsor and Power Sponsor Letters – follow-up communications sent by the seller which document and confirm buyer visions in the purchasing organization
- Collaboration Plan – a key job aid used in conjunction with the Power Sponsor Letter. It outlines suggested steps for guiding a buyer to a confident purchasing decision
- Transition Issues and Capabilities – a document that identifies and ameliorates risks associated with implementing a solution in the buyer organization
- Implementation Plan – a plan sent along with the Implementation Plan Letter to the group within the client organization responsible for implementation
- Initial Value Proposition – a statement which projects the potential quantified benefit (value) a client could realize through the implementation of a specific capability or solution.
- Value Proposition/Value Analysis – a model used to collaboratively determine the impact and value of a solution with a buyer
- Success Criteria – a document of metrics that will help track the ongoing value of a solution for a buyer
- Negotiation Worksheet and Give/Get List – tools used during the close/negotiation to ensure equal exchange of value with buyers, and effectively reduce or eliminate price reductions and other concessions
- Strength of Sale Assessment – provides a means for evaluating sales opportunities against observed buyer behavior, and tracking progress over time
Solution Selling® provides sellers with a clear map that ensures that the right things will be accomplished in the right manner. at the right time, with the right buyers – resulting in increased sales productivity and revenues. Solution Selling® is a catalyst for developing and maintaining a high performance sales culture – not only for the sales team, but for marketing, operations, customer support, and other operating groups within the company.