The End of Solution Selling
E-commerce and sales reps who do high volume, high velocity transactional sales over email and the phone to predominately connect buyers to products fast (the much maligned “product sellers”) have gained ground. At the same time, enterprise account executives who spend their time face-to-face with executive buyers helping them navigate challenges and accomplish their most important goals (who we call “Accelerator sellers”) are ever-more valuable. But the middle infielder of the sales world who splits her time between prospecting in the office and closing deals in the field by combining product and services to solve problems (the “solution seller”) is increasingly out of step with the modern sales world.
When a multinational enterprise information technology company came to us about building an onboarding program for their new sales hubs, they were trying to train their inside sales reps for the enterprise sale. We helped them see that these new reps needed to know the “blocking and tackling” of sales – getting past gatekeepers, overcoming objections and demoing products – more than they did executive level conversations.
To accomplish this, we helped them define the critical moments that their inside sales reps (ISRs) faced on the job, and identify how the reps could be “great” in those moments. More than knowing how to articulate value, these reps needed help cold calling, writing cold emails, introducing themselves and leading a conversation.
To build these skills, we built nine weeks of onboarding content spread throughout the ISRs first year on the job. Near the end of that year, we then ran a capstone simulation that tested their ability to be great in their current role and introduced them to a more complex sale.
On the other end of the spectrum, when we partnered with a leading multinational software corporation, they were challenging themselves to move from simply being a technology vendor to being their manufacturing clients’ true strategic partner. As part of that, they needed their enterprise account executives to go from selling features and benefits to selling with vision and provocation.
To accomplish this, the company needed their people to be smart in their customers’ industries and have enough business acumen to be able to understand the results their customers needed and how the company could help them get there. In order to build this deep understanding of the tensions inside their customer’s business, BTS developed an experiential training solution in which reps ran their customer’s business with a focus on the different needs and conflicts of the design, manufacturing and marketing teams. After doing so, reps practiced delivering the new corporate value propositions about how their platform enables the “future of making things” and “connecting manufacturing and design ecosystems together.” In doing so, the sales reps didn’t just learn how to have customer empathy – they learned how to actually use it.