How to Gain a Reputation as a Solution Seller

A good job title for the person doing solution selling or looking after a major customer is ‘account manager’. The account manager may be the managing director in point of fact, but it is in the role of account manager that they will benefit from the sensible customer’s guide to capital investment

If the account manager is to be truly customer facing, he or she will be with the customer as he undertakes each stage in the process. That could be the definition of the difference between being a solution seller or just a seller.

A seller will become involved with the project only when invited by the prospect at the step ‘select functionality’ or even worse at the step ‘select the necessary prod­ucts and services and the suppliers of them.’ This leads to bickering about the fea­tures of you product against theirs.

The solution seller will involve himself from start to finish and may even insti­gate the whole idea by being the first person to identify the opportunity. This is easier to write down and say than it is to do, since there are hazards to this sort of consultative selling:

  • The customer may want to keep aspects of the project, e.g. return on invest­ment, to himself.
  • The customer may not see the requirement for carrying out each of the steps.
  • It is time consuming.
  • It requires the account manager to become versed in his or her customer’s business and hold discussions on business topics which initially may not be part of a salesperson’s comfort zone.
  • The approach carries some risk, in that a customer going methodically through a process of this nature may come across reasons for not doing the project as well as reasons for doing it.

With all these hazards it is still the essence of professional account management to try to persuade a customer to identify the steps in capital investment evaluation and then go through them together. So, amend this step-by-step guide to fit the prod­ucts and services that you sell. You might also benefit from taking a project whose implementation is complete and trying, as a post-hoc rationalisation, to recognise what happened at each step. You can then take the result to the customer con­cerned, discuss it with them and try to sell them on the idea of involving you in the next project they are planning.

As you do this, use your experience and your company’s to prove that you can add value to your customer’s professional plans.

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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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