Solution based sales and marketing strategies can be very effective. However there are pitfalls that many fall into when putting strategy into practice. Inappropriate or overuse of the term ‘solution’ is the most common. This not only diminishes the effectiveness of the strategy it can also dilute the perceived value of the service offering. In solution selling the customer perspective is the focal point around which the sales process should flow. Many times this is forgotten and so called ‘solutions’ are pushed rather than matched to the customer’s viewpoint. Following are commonly made mistakes to avoid when implementing solution based strategies:
- Branding Products with the Word ‘Solution’ – A sure way to render a solution based strategy ineffective is to append the word ‘solution’ to product offerings. This not only dilutes the objectives of solution based strategies but can also diminish the value of the product offering as perceived by the customer.
- Using the Word ‘Solution’ – During the sales or marketing process the term ‘solution’ tends to lean toward the abstract. There is nothing abstract about service offerings in auto repair. Solution based strategies are much more effective when employed without diluting their impact in the customer’s mind.
- Presenting Solutions as Answers to Problems – A customer’s vision of what they’d like to experience in the auto repair cycle doesn’t necessarily imply that there is a problem that needs to be solved. Furthermore relating a positive idea to a negative motivation is counter to effective relationship building. In solution selling the term ‘points of pain’ is frequently used to refer to opportunities to provide solutions and sell. And this may be the case in a good number of instances but every relationship is different and every customer’s perspective is their own.
- Failing to Understand the Customer’s Perspective – Trying to apply solutions without understanding the customer’s point of view is counter to the concept of solution selling. The entire methodology is based on gaining an understanding of the customer’s situation and offering services that will achieve positive results.
- Attempting to Alter the Customer’s Vision – In any sales situation there is sometimes a tendency to steer the customer toward service offerings that don’t necessarily relate to the customer’s ideas. This contradicts the basis of solution based selling. Offering alternatives is always a good way to identify the best services to be provided but they should fit within the framework of the customer’s perspective.
- Selling Solutions Rather Than Affecting Relationship Outcomes – Sales that are generated through relationships are the key to solution selling. Understanding the customer perspective and supporting their objectives is the core of solution based sales.
- Using a Cookie Cutter Approach – Applying the same process to every sales situation will only work some of the time. In solution selling the process should be customer driven. The role of the sales person is more that of a facilitator that guides the customer through the process.