Is Solution Selling the Same as Insight-Led Selling?

April 23, 2019 | Ericka Ponce

InsightLedBlogAs the ever-changing landscape of the art of selling ebbs and flows, keeping up with new trends and phrases can be challenging. Two phrases which are heard frequently are Solution Selling and Insight-Led Selling. But, what do these phrases really mean? In this blog we will examine the differences in methodologies between these two practices and reveal which approach will help close the deal in today’s marketplace.

Solution selling is a sales methodology that became popular in the 1980s. Using this technique, sellers help to identify problems buyers may not be aware of. Sellers define common pain points and develop questions designed to diagnose prospects. Developing the right questions means that most of the sales conversation will be focused on the buyer and their company, rather than the seller’s products and features. The seller must be able to qualify their solution and understand the decision-making unit (DMU). Utilizing this sales technique, sellers look for specific facts and figures that help build a business case for their solution. After determining prospects pain points, sellers typically suggest a combination of products and services to provide solutions to their problems. Thus, the term “Solution Selling.”

Solution selling has proven to be effective in the past because it focuses on the ROI of a product, not its feature functions or price tag. Using this model, the seller must be able to understand and demonstrate their product’s value.

Many experts now recognize that solution selling is becoming less effective in the age of digital marketing. Due to the internet, social media, and mobile technology, potential buyers have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. Buyers can simply look up the necessary information themselves.

In 2012, Harvard Business Review published an article that declared solution selling had become obsolete. The verdict was in large part, founded on the argument that B2B buyers are more savvy, better prepared, and more educated than ever before. In many cases buyers have already identified a desired solution and, as a result, they no longer appreciate a solution selling approach that relies heavily on open-ended questions aimed at diagnosing their needs.

The vast majority of B2B companies are undergoing some type of digital transformation and are purchasing new technologies that align with their transformation. With so much knowledge available via the Internet and social media, many buyers already know what they need before a seller walks into their office. Because of this change, buyers no longer depend on salespeople to offer them guidance. They can look up the necessary information for themselves.

This is where Insight-Led selling comes into the playing field. The goal of Insight-Led Selling is to reframe the beliefs of their target prospect, by offering unique and challenging insights into the current business model. By presenting powerful insights and portraying these to their prospects in a way they haven’t seen before, well trained salespeople know how to speak to the different lines of businesses (LOB) in a way that is impactful and meaningful to the particular executive they are meeting with. Now, more than ever, sales training needs to be more intensive, and sales teams need to be equipped with the very best technology, resources, and support to be competitive in today’s market.

To be a top performer today, sellers are adapting to the Insight-Led selling methodology. Sellers must be able to understand their prospects business and bring their observations into the overall business discussion. Focus on financial metrics that interest the executives. Be able to develop a clear message on how your solutions will improve their performance. Being able to provide a point of view on the client’s performance relative to their competitors will help build credibility and turn the seller’s role into that of a trusted advisor.

To summarize, the conventional solution-selling wisdom trained sales teams to align the buyers needs to their existing solutions and then demonstrate why it was better than the competition’s solutions. When an organization was identified with a recognizable problem, sellers gained “buy-in” and quantified their level of pain monetarily. Unfortunately, with the changing landscape of business, this methodology has become almost obsolete. With today’s Insight-Led selling, sellers are better positioned to serve in an advisor role because they have demonstrated they understand their prospective buyers’ incentives and business and are able to have discussions that are both meaningful and impactful to the particular LOB they are selling to.


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Posted in Selling Strategies