Ordinary People Sell Solutions. What Do You Sell?

“Can you come and teach my people solutions selling?” I’m hesitant. “I’m sure you know about solutions selling. Well, we offer the best solutions in our industry, but our staff just don’t understand the importance of solutions selling.”

I need to craft my response carefully. Let’s face it, 1895, one year before Henry Ford made his first car, Mr. John Henry Patterson, founder of NCR and pioneer of the modern sales force was teaching solutions selling from highly tuned scripts and is reputed to have started the world’s first sales training school. By the way, he is listed by some sources as one of the world’s ten worst bosses but I’m sure there is no connection.

One hundred and five (105) years later, writer Jeff Cox and researcher Howard Stephens, in their exciting book Selling the Wheel, claim, “Most salespeople sell solutions to a problem. Closers (we’ll speak about them in a subsequent post), however, are in a league of their own. They sell dreams. They sell a better tomorrow. They sell opportunity.”

Selling dreams instead of solutions reminds me of two of my all time favourite sales people, Martin Luther King and Barack Obama. Martin Luther King said “I have a dream.” And Obama sold “The Audacity of Hope.” That’s right. They sold dreams: not solutions.

So back to my caller. Shall I teach them solutions selling?

Herman Alvaranga educates marketing and sales people.


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