How to Sell a Solution to a Problem or an Opportunity to Business


If you sell complex products to business, there is a right and a wrong way of going about it. Or, rather, there are some processes, evolved over time by professional salespeople, to help you on your way.

I once worked with a team who were planning a sales campaign to persuade a major telecommunications company to buy public exchanges (or switches) from their com­pany rather than from any of a group of competitors. The planning team was, need­less to say, very senior in the selling organisation. In order to get a feel for a ballpark figure, I asked the sales director what the initial order would be worth. ‘Oh,’ he said cheerfully, ‘The first order will be about £280 million, but the total deal over three years will amount to the thick edge of £1 billion.’ Truly this was big ticket selling, and I was in some awe of a team that would take on such a task. Remember, if they lost, they would get nothing and the company would almost certainly have to close the factories geared up to make the products.

On another occasion I sat in on a meeting where a salesman sold a manager a Web site and the expertise to set it up and keep the site up to date. At its lowest this was going to cost about £1500 and at most £3000. Yet the process the salesman had to use was the same as the process for the telecommunications team.

If, however, you look at how computer component salespeople work in the component distribution business, you will see that they sell on price and availability. After all, the actual products they are distributing are exactly the same as those of their competitors. So they work on developing sound and friendly relationships with their customers, but never try to think of something new they might do with the components they buy in. And yet, in terms of value, they can be taking very large orders indeed.

So, I conclude, big ticket selling is a misnomer. It is not just the value of the order that chooses the selling method, it is the need to discover what impact the product or service you are selling will have on the prospect, knowing that this will be different from every other customer you have sold to, and will also be different from the customer’s original expectation. The salesperson or sales team is adding to the value of the products and services being offered in the course of the sales campaign.

So, it is big ticket, it is different from selling fruit off a market stall but mainly it is about selling not a product or a service, but selling a solution to a problem or selling the ability of the customer to exploit an opportunity. In the words of an IT director, ‘Choose to sell for a company with whose objectives you can identify, put yourself into the moccasins of your customers, and try to understand their business better than they do.’ And you don’t have to charge the thick edge of a billion pounds.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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