One of my favorite videos on YouTube depicts a painful discussion between a man and his wife about a nail. Take a minute to watch it here:
Does that sound familiar to you? Doesn't it sound a lot like your salespeople?
Have you noticed that the overwhelming tendency of most sales professionals is to rush to a solution? It's in our nature. We want to solve our client's problems and we usually have the products and services to do it. So, what's the problem? We’re in the business of providing solutions; It’s what we do! So, why aren't our prospects just thrilled when we come knocking?
You are actually hurting your performance
Here’s what we know from our research and client experience. Rushing to the solution actually hurts performance. Remember the nail?
As a sales leader, it is your job to help your sales team change their instincts, to slow down and focus on inquiry before advocacy. It’s not easy, but keep in mind that the most successful sales professionals in the world have learned to master this skill. They’ve learned to restrain their impulse and resist the temptation to sell the solution right out of the chute. Instead, they have become masters of inquiry or discovery, and in doing so, they are seen as credible advisors to their customers. We call this skill: Moving Off The Solution.
Move Off The Solution
Moving off the solution takes discipline and often requires sales professionals to break or unlearn certain habits, and the payoff is huge!
There are three steps to successfully moving off the solution:
- Listen to understand
- Use softening statements
- Move to business problems and results
A Frightening Scenario
Let’s look at a possible scenario to see what moving off the solution might look like in practice:
Let’s say you work for a company that sells a world-class workflow management software. Your software is loaded with all of the latest, greatest and most powerful features AND is extremely user-friendly and intelligent at the same time. In addition, all of your other customers (which include several companies on the Fortune 500) have seen a positive ROI within 6 months of implementing the software.
You are meeting for the first time with a prospect who has the potential to become your biggest account and they say to you: “We really need workflow management and want someone with proven experience…”
What did you hear (other than CHA-CHING!)? What is on the tip of your tongue? What should you do?
STOP! Bite your tongue!!!
Take a breath and offer a softening statement to help make the transition from the client’s question and your response. You might say something like this: “We actually have a lot of experience with workflow management and I would love to share some successes we have been seeing with some of our other clients…”
Now that you have acknowledged the question and assured them that you will answer their question, move off the solution. You might say: “…First, if you don’t mind, I would like to understand some of the reasons why you feel like you ‘really need’ workflow management?”
Remember, the goal of moving off the solution is to have your client start talking about the problems or results they are hoping the solution will resolve.
Watch this video from our award-winning training program, Helping Clients Succeed: Qualifying Opportunities to learn more about moving off the solution:
Put On Your 3-D Glasses
Here’s a simple technique you can use with your team to help them change their instincts and master the art of moving off the solution. We call it “Your 3-D Glasses”. It’s a simple, yet powerful technique designed to help sales professionals instantly remember to move off the solution.
Every time you meet with a potential client, imagine you are wearing a pair of 3-D glasses. The 3 “Ds” stand for “discover, discover, discover!” Keep your 3-D glasses on. It will help you stay in discovery mode and uncover the business reasons that will help you find a solution that meets and exceeds the needs of your client.
Try This With Your Team
In your next sales team meeting have your sales team divide into pairs and think of a potential client scenario to role-play. Each person will take a turn playing the part of the potential client while the other practices moving off the solution. The potential client should ask about your solutions in three different ways and each time the salesperson must move off the solution by 1.) listening to understand, 2.) using a softening statement, and 3.) moving to off the solution. Make sense?
Use this tool with your team to document the clients’ questions and the best “moves” you come up with:
Remember to use the client’s exact words and phrases
- Your version of the words may not resonate with the client
- You will avoid confusing the dialogue with a translated version of their words
- You demonstrate your ability to listen and understand their perspectives first
Avoid using “But…”
- The word “but” tends to erase everything that comes before it. See if you can just end the sentence, or use “and” instead. For example: That’s an exciting idea, AND it would be helpful if you could help me understand…
Move Off The Solution comes from FranklinCovey’s award-winning sales training, Helping Clients Succeed: Qualifying Opportunities. If you are interested in exploring whether or not the training is a good fit for your sales team, join us for a preview event in a city near you.