A shift from selling products to selling solutions is a common strategy for companies looking to boost their bottom line, but what many leaders overlook is the impact this change in their business model will have on the sales organization. Sales professionals are no longer simply pitching products and services, but rather selling real (and more complicated) solutions.
In my experience, there are three critical factors that contribute to the frequent failure of these transformative efforts:
1. The sales organization is not connected to the go-to-market strategy.
Selling solutions doesn’t simply require the company to sell different things – it requires the sales team to sell differently. Having a great suite of products or services is necessary, but the sales process must also provide value to the customer. Your sales team has to share insights that help customers see problems they hadn’t recognized, opportunities they hadn’t considered, and solutions they hadn’t anticipated, while executing the go-to-market strategy in every sales call.
2. Management practices don’t support the solution sales process.
A sales team moving from high volume transactions to more sophisticated solutions needs to be managed with a different set of metrics, milestones and hiring practices, along with an increased focus on professional development and coaching. Value-focused metrics help sales leadership shift from from inspecting sales performance (which does little to boost results), to actually improving sales performance.
3. Consultative selling is much harder than anyone thinks, and the degree of difficulty is taken for granted
. Most people underestimate the complexity and sophistication involved in selling solutions today, which requires both strong business acumen and a mastery of sophisticated communication techniques. Too many organizations under-invest in building solution sales capability, which requires a strategic and sustained leadership effort.
For more detail on these three factors, check out my latest Forbes article