Selling Solutions

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The other day I was saddened to hear a parent say to their Scout leader, “I don’t want my child involved in selling items to raise money.  My child is no sales person, he’s a good boy.”

I was even more startled to hear the Scout leader respond, “It’s OK.  This year we aren’t selling chocolates, we’re just asking for donations.”

The parent was happy, but I was filled with a deep uneasiness.  I understand the reluctance to have our children knock on neighbours doors and offer to do chores in return for pay, and I don’t necessarily think we want to be pushing chocolate on people, but do we really want our children to grow up thinking selling is ‘bad’, and sales people are some kind of pariah?  I don’t think so!  And I really hate the idea that it’s better to ask for a donation than to sell something that has value.

We Are All Sales People - and Always Have Been

The reality is that we are all in sales.  We can call it ‘negotiation’, we can call it ‘sharing ideas’, or a million other euphemisms but when push comes to shove every one of us will spend a lot of our lives selling.  We sell when we apply for a job, when we communicate and idea or suggest a project at work, when we go on holidays, persuade our kids to do their homework, decide which restaurant to eat at, and a million other times each day.

The real questions are, how well do we do that selling and how effectively do we attract support and co-operation from others?  In my opinion, the better your skills and ideas, the greater your responsibility to gain the skills needed to sell them.  It’s doing your colleagues, your employer, and your clients an injustice when you can’t communicate your powerful solutions effectively so that others can appreciate them.

Selling Effective Solutions

If you have an effective solution to someone’s real problem, then you should be embarrassed if you withhold the solution.  Maybe you don’t think their problem is important.  Perhaps you think they should keep suffering with that problem.  Or perhaps you are just more concerned that they won’t realise how easily and effectively your produce or service can remove their problem.

Whatever is going through your brain when you decide this person isn’t worth helping, I’d like to challenge you to change it.  Maybe your solution costs more than they are willing to pay – but that is their decision to make, not yours.

In my Confident Closing Workshops [Link here] I invariably have students who are worried about the price of their product or service.  When we discuss this as a group and draw out the value any given product or service brings to its owners the consensus is usually that it is worth more, not less, than the price it is being sold for.  Did you get that?  I don’t recall ever having other people say, “That is way too much for anyone to pay!”

How much is your product or service worth?  That depends on the size and severity of the problem it solves.  Whether it’s solving logistics problems for a large company, helping small business owners become more profitable, or helping obese people lose weight to avoid insulin-dependence, the price people will pay for your solution depends on how painful their problem is.

Price and value are not fixed – they are relative.  Your job as a sales person is to stack the value of the solution you are selling so high that your prospect says, (even as he sits down in shock when he hears the figure you set), “Is that all?”

If you are selling a real solution to a genuine problem then you are helping make your prospects’ lives better, not taking money from them.

Do You Still Hate Selling?

Maybe you’re not convinced yet.  Try this exercise.

Make a list of all the problems your product or service solves.

List the time and money prospects spend on other solutions that are less effective.

How does your solution stack up?  If you can’t find enough value in it, then dig a bit deeper.  If you still can’t find the value in it then maybe it’s time to sell something else.  But if you’ve come up with a substantial list in support of your product’s benefits (which I hope you have), then it’s time to hold your head high, get out there, and sell it for all you’re worth because of the value it will bring to users.

Meta Description:  Selling is part of our everyday life whether we like it or not.  The best way to deal with that reality is to  become comfortable with your need to sell and develop skills that allow you to sell more effectively.

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