This blog will focus on the different ways that customers review how a solution can solve a problem that they have within their business.
Put simply, a solution is something that solves a problem. A customer has a problem and we have the solution = problem solved. If only it was that easy.
In order to increase the chances of being the chosen solution, it is useful to get a blank piece of paper, split the sheet into 3 columns and split up the solution types. These are:
- The solution in terms of how it solves the business problem
- The solution in terms of how it solves the application problem
- The solution in terms of how it solves the personal problem
Remember, this is less about your solution and more about how the customer thinks when it comes to assessing and selecting a suitable solution. There are various books that reference this if you want to do further reading as we wont go deep into the details in this sales blog.
To put this in context…
A customer wants to grow their revenue by 10% this year. As well as streamlining a number of operational processes across the business, marketing has been tasked with increasing the average customer lifetime value (LTV). They have opted to do this by optimizing their website experience by leveraging their data assets to show products at the right place, right time in the right format. They are looking for a tool that integrates into their marketing cloud seamlessly to enable this.
For the business problem, a customer is taking a strategic look at the solution and how it will help to address the overall challenge. Can this help us optimize the website experience? The key here is to fine tune the solution to the business problem so that it is aligned with the customer’s current priorities. It would make little sense to talk about improving brand image or acquiring lots of new customers when the overall strategic objective has been explicitly stated as increasing the LTV. With that being said, think long-term so if a secondary priority has been stated then most certainly highlight additional benefits.
For the application problem, the customer is seeking to understand what the actual software or service does and how that can be applied from a technical perspective. The business will be looking objectively at the nuts and bolts, the speed, reliability and integration capabilities. This usually presents itself in the form of an RFI or RFP but there are plenty of opportunities to share the FAQ’s with a customer prior to them having to ask for all the details. Keeping it simple with the core expected capabilities and some additional gems will help reassure the customer.
For the personal problem, this is of utmost importance as the multi-stakeholder decision making unit seeks to understand what a solution will mean to them at an individual level within the business. As touched on in previous blogs, people make decisions based on emotions which are highly subjective and to some extent driven by ego. For this reason, it is key to spend time understanding more about your champions and the wider stakeholder group so that the solution speaks directly to their key drivers and motivations. For example, the customer might want to gain the experience of implementing a new piece of technology in their current business so that they can bolster their CV. Alternatively, they may have specific targets aligned to the success of this project so getting it right is crucial.
To bring this all together, having a thorough understanding of the 3 solution types will help to improve the value of proposition and subsequent pipeline. The most frustrating thing is losing an opportunity only to find out that you covered 99% of the solution requirements at every level but you did not take the time to seek the information out. The focus is really on taking a customer-oriented approach to all interactions. This makes the process of buying from your organization easier, removing a lot of potential friction.
I appreciate your attention :-)