Is Solution Selling Dead or Is It Just Misunderstood?

Solution Selling Sales TrainingI’ve been keeping up with the attacks on solution selling during the past few years.

I decided to dig a bit more deeply into those assertions and found a discrepancy between what is being portrayed as solution selling and Solution Selling®, the sales performance improvement intellectual property of Sales Performance International. (Note: SPI subscribes to ES Research Group’s research.)

My July/August column in Sales and Marketing Management magazine sheds some light on both modes of solution selling, and why there may be a misunderstanding out there in the sales training community.

No matter which side of the argument you’ve taken, I trust this column will establish the facts for any further debate.

By the way, you can subscribe to the print version of S&MM here.  If you do, use my priority code:  DSEN

Comments

  1. says

    “Latent Pain” sounds remarkably like the “Unregcognised need” which has been a part of solution selling no (r) no ™ for 20 or more years.

    “Vision Re-engineering” is a clumsy way of saying re-framing.

    Is someone trying to sell me my own watch for 500 bucks?

  2. Richard Plank says

    Dave,

    I think Brian and I have been mostly on the same wavelength on this one. My issue is not the value of something such as challenger selling or solution selling or the stratgic and tactical material I use in my classroom. In stead it is about the puffery of claims made in selling these programs. As a student of history, althought an amatuer it is not what I am trained in, I have an appreciation for understanding where we have been to see where we might go or might want to go. I have spend some time looking at both Challenger Selling and the Silent Edge work done in England. I find both programs solid, and of value to any firm who is ready to go there. They are however, not new and there is nothing new in either of them. Neither is the work of ASTD which you will recall was far more comprehensive and pretty well covers everything worded one way or another. In this particular area we differentiate our products using different terminology, but really saying hte same thing in better or less clear terms. So my beef is simply stop insinuating if I by this red car I am going to marry a supermodel. I stoped believing that with the Hai karate adds of the 1960′s. Cute advertising, probably sold a lot of product, doubt too many guys had to fight the women off figuratively or literally after they purchased the product. People are people they evolve very slowly; nothing I have seen is really new and I can trace almost anything or any claim made in this area back in history somewhere. Technology changes providing new ways to get the process done and because of that competencies change in respect to that. My $.02

  3. says

    I find the current debate and the attention its getting the interesting part. I applaud the Challenger Sales folks for using a tried and proven positioning strategy of suggesting they have something that the competitor doesn’t. Those who want to believe will follow. Those who don’t will find the error in the positioning.

    The original author of SolutionSelling and Customer Centric Selling, Mike Bosworth, identified at least two (off the top of my head) concepts that are synonymous with the “new” Challenger concepts. The Anxiety Question also known as the Situational Anxiety Question was designed to challenge the even keel buyer or the buyer that had latent pain. Bosworth’s “control” question was also designed to challenge and teach the prospect something about their situation they may not be aware of, or had failed to consider.

    I don’t believe the concepts in SolutionSelling are dead, any more than I believe Challenger Selling has identified anything new. I do believe the event driven sales training model is dead no matter who the vendor or author.

    Sending a rep out after a couple of days of training has proven to be a failed model. The real focus should be on the sales manager and the sales leadership as the critical link in elevating the skills and success of their sales team using any methodology.

    The real question should be “is the event based sales rep focused training model dead?”

  4. says

    “I don’t believe the concepts in SolutionSelling(R) are dead, any more than I believe Challenger Selling has identified anything new. I do believe the event driven sales training model is dead no matter who the vendor or author.
    Sending a rep out after a couple of days of training has proven to be a failed model. The real focus should be on the sales manager and the sales leadership as the critical link in elevating the skills and success of their sales team using any methodology.
    The real question should be “is the event based sales rep focused training model dead?”

    Well said, if you aren’t reinforcing the concepts your sellers are learning, regardless of concept, you are behind the 8 ball. There are hundreds of sales methodologies out there and they all carry unique but similar concepts. The real value is committing to that methodology from the top down throughout an organization. Hire and fire to the process as well.

  5. Mark Gardner says

    Solution Selling and solution selling will die when buyers stop buying solutions to their problems. And I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon!

  6. says

    I agree that The Challenger Sale, while a good read, has not identified anything new.

    Like Kevin, I also don’t believe that the “solutions” approach is necessarily dead. The Challenger book talks about the customers being tired of this approach.

    Are they tired of the approach or just tired of it being executed poorly. A lot has changed in the last few years, but it’s still about solving the client’s business problem right?

    David’s comments on methodologies are spot on. And “committing to that methodology from the top down throughout an organization” takes a level of discipline that many organizations have difficulty carrying through on.

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