For the past four weeks we have taken an in-depth look at the promotional industry from a marketing perspective. Today I am going to shift gears a bit and make all of this marketing mammer-jammer applicable to the selling function. The fact of the matter is that by understanding marketing, you open the door to solutions-based selling rather than options-based selling and therefore become an investment for your clients rather than a cost. Options-based Selling
Options-based selling is the result of showing up to an initial client meeting with multiple catalogues, samples, and price points. The majority of the conversation in options-based selling is the different products, different suppliers and different prices available. Clients leave this kind of meeting with a plethora of options, notes and price points. Clients then go back to their bosses and departments, present these options, and all is well until someone says, "Hey I know a guy who can get us the same exact thing for 50 cents less." The sale is gone. Sound familiar?
The problem with options-based selling is that you have positioned yourself as a cost. Your clients will be loyal only until someone or some source comes along with a lower price.Solutions-based Selling
Solutions-based selling is the result of showing up to an initial client meeting with a pen and a blank piece of paper. The conversation is directed by specific and systematic questions with a majority of the talking done by the client. The client leaves the meeting feeling that you understand their brand, corporate culture and the needs of their customers. You then go back to the drawing board and define solutions that will meet the expectations of your clients. After compiling strategic and specific solutions you then present to the potential client, specifically highlighting how your solutions accomplish their objectives.
In solutions-based selling, you present yourself as an investment rather than a cost. Clients are so pleased that you heard them and addressed their needs that price becomes an afterthought. Your clients epitomize loyalty because they are not easily won over by someone who can cut the price and are willing to refer you to their friends because they know you will take care of them.
In these tough economic times, as we are all trying to become more efficient and cost effective, it is important to position yourself as an investment rather than a cost. With marketing insight you can better understand how your clients are thinking and therefore better address their needs with solutions rather than options.
For a more in depth look at a solutions-based sales cycle, sign up for our talk, "Empowering Brand Loyalty
," at the 2013 PPAI Expo