Be a Problem Solver Not A Salesperson28 Mar, 2006 By: Marvin Himel imageSource
Be a Problem Solver Not A Salesperson
If prospects perceive that
there is even a 5 percent chance that you can help them solve their problems,
they will likely buy from you. The trouble is problem solvers are a rarity these
days—especially among sales people.
good number of salespeople go on a call with the mindset of finding out what
they can gain from the prospect. Customers can sense this and will back away.
This is especially true at the end of each month when panicked salespeople are
desperate to make their numbers and prospects become the targets of their
frantic desire to make quota.
You should approach sales from a perspective that it is not your job to sell
your product, but your duty to help other people solve problems. When you can
legitimately say to a prospect, "I am not necessarily here to sell you anything"
a prospect will look at you completely differently, but you have to mean it.
Approach every prospect with a problem-solving attitude and you will succeed.
When you’re having a bad day, a friend or co-worker will PAT you on the back and
ask what they can do to help. As salespeople, we need to do more of that. When
trying to solve problems for yourself and your prospect, use PAT to help you
remember the important components of problem solving:
Tip the scales
When dealing with a prospect, they need to think of you as their trusted
advisor. Because of your frequent face-to-face visits, you will have established
excellent rapport. Based on that rapport, you will be well positioned in that
account and connected to many different people in the company.
Make sure to involve as many people as possible with your prospect. There are
several reasons why this is important:
The more people you have familiar with an account, the more input you
Your prospect may communicate more freely with certain people on your staff
Bringing a large number of people in on your calls gives the impression that
your company has extensive resources.
If your management team is involved in an account you will have a much easier
time getting resources.
Everyone on your company’s staff has an area of expertise. For example, a
customer service manager can relate to other customer service managers.
Always be on the lookout for potential problems with a prospect.
For example, if the decision maker you are working with is new to the area,
recommend some of your favorite restaurants. Better yet, if their company policy
does not prohibit it, provide them with a $50 gift certificate to your favorite
restaurant. You could also help them find a place to live by giving them the
name of a realtor or an article on great places to live in your city.
One of the most valuable tools a salesperson can utilize is targeted information
and articles. Most executives and business owners are so busy today that they
are greatly limited in the amount of time they have for research. Do their
research for them.
Ask the question, "If I was the CEO of XYZ Company, what information would I
need to be more successful?" By using the Internet and search engines you can
find articles that are specific to any industry. This is particularly effective
if the articles are tied to the prospect’s pain or emotional buying motive.
Remember, your goal is to be their problem solver, not their vendor.
Tip the Scales
When a prospect is trying to decide whether to buy a product, what they are
doing is weighing the costs of the acquisition with the benefits of the
It is important to remember that the purchase price is just one component of the
cost of acquisition. Install cost, employee time to learn new systems, potential
downtime, and cash flow are just a few of the additional acquisition costs that
the prospect may be weighing.
Once again, the best way to tip the scales in your favor is to help prospects
solve problems. Author Napoleon Hill describes this very well, "It is literally
true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed."
The most traditional approach to adding value to a solution is to list the
features and benefits of the product. This can still be effective as long as the
benefits are tied directly to the prospect’s pain.
Prospects are conditioned to spend more time finding reasons not to buy from
you. Keep in mind that every feature you explain or demonstrate has the
potential to become a reason to eliminate you. So, never sell past the sale and
never talk about features and benefits that are not a necessity for the
Left vs. Right Brain
you are presenting the solution, you need to present to the left brain—the
logical side of the brain—and the right brain—the emotional side.
When selling to the logical person, use features and benefits tied to the pain
they are experiencing, statistics, charts and graphs, third party reference
letters, and independent articles.
When you are selling to the emotional person use stories, ask questions designed
to emotionally involve them, and descriptions that force them to see a visual
Another way to tip the scales in your favor is to show your prospect the
benefits in real dollars.
For example, I knew a telecommunications salesperson who conducted a site survey
to determine the number of calls her prospect received and find out if the
company had the proper equipment.
She pulled reports showing missed and abandoned calls and then asked the
prospect how much each sale was worth to the company. When showing her
equipment, she demonstrated to the prospect how she could virtually eliminate
these missed and abandoned calls.
After presenting her calculations, she presented the prospect a personal check
for $855,400. She then tore the check in half and explained that this was how
much money was being thrown away in revenue each year because of their current
If you approach every call with the attitude of discovering what you can do to
help your prospect, your sales success will be beyond belief.