In the history of the world, no one ever purchased anything without first seeing the value. So job number one is to show how your product has value. But value isn’t a strong enough motivator by itself. Perceiving a value is just the beginning.
I can see why a diamond ring has value. But that doesn’t mean I want one. The reason I don’t want a diamond ring could be:
- I value other things more.
- A diamond ring doesn’t hold value for me.
So while it’s important to sell on value, you must also sell the problem.
How can you sell me a diamond ring if I value something else more, or I just don’t see the value of a diamond ring for me? Find out what I value more and why. Perhaps I seek a reward for my hard work and long hours. A vacation is what I want but it never seems to materialize. Truth is, I just don’t have time for a vacation no matter how well deserved or desired.
I have a problem. I think the solution to the problem is to take a much needed vacation. I think I need to solve the problem by finding the time. You could help me understand that while a vacation is relaxing and rewarding – most of all it provides a feeling of accomplishment – one that is short-lived. That a stunning diamond ring would be a better solution to my problem because it’s a long-lasting and tangible reminder of my accomplishments. And it doesn’t require time away from my work.
Attempting to sell a diamond ring to me on its merits will not work. Selling the diamond ring to me based on my problem will.
As your prospect, I may not recognize I have a problem to begin with. The more you know about me, the more you’ll find a way to relate to my unique perspective. If you pitch a solution – you will not succeed. If you pitch to a problem, you will fill a need and when you fill a need, you will make a sale.
A diamond ring ain’t no big thing. But a need to feel rewarded for my accomplishments certainly is.
Problem vs Solution Selling
Now that you’ve opened my eyes to a “problem,” I might wonder whether there are suitable alternatives to a diamond ring. Now that you’ve got me thinking I really should reward myself, I very well may think about other options such as a new television or a new car.
Your job starts at helping me recognize a problem. But you must be prepared to help me understand why yours is the best solution.
Problem, then solution, then why “your” solution.
Think about what you’re selling. What problems does it solve? If you sell marketing automation software, are you solving the need for a more effective way to market online? Or are you solving a different need? Think about the person who buys your software. Chances are they recognize the need for a more effective way to market online, but their real problem may be that they feel more pressure to lower marketing expenses. Pitching how your solution will help them market online will not address their real problem. Pitching how it will help the prospect lower their marketing expenses will.
Then you’ll need to show why your solution to lowering marketing expenses is better than some alternative.
It’s very easy to get hung-up talking about solutions based on features and benefits and to position your solution against others – based on those features and benefits.
But problem-selling then solution-selling is what brings real value.