Three Reasons to Give Me a Solution, Not a Sales Pitch

Closed for businessWe don’t want to be sold. When we expect a sales pitch, we put our defenses up, or just turn away.

We always need solutions to challenges. Lower cost, reduce risk, increase visibility. Your solution does that, right? The problem is, everyone else’s does too. Claims like these are so broadly used in marketing they have become cliche and have lost nearly all meaning.

The answer is to show me your solution. No, not the worn out demo, where I commit my time and you share a mostly canned view of your product. Skip the traditional positioning step and tell me what you will do specifically for me.

Of course, we have never spoken, your proposal will not be perfect. As a buyer, I understand that. And by skipping directly to showing me a personalized solution, you also show me three things that are important in selecting a partner.

  • You understand my needs and my business. By taking the time to create an appropriate solution instead of sending me a solution sheet without context, you show my business is important and worth investing in.
  • You have a solution for me. It is sized for my business, it works in my environment. Although this requires some legwork, and possibly some educated guesses, it gives us a starting point for discussion and it makes your solution tangible as part of my business.
  • You respect my time. We skipped an entire meeting (or three) of introductions and overviews, and can immediately begin discussing if you have an appropriate solution for me.

Here is a great example of an unsolicited solution delivering results:

From the Babcock & Jenkins blog: Qwest Enterprise Marketing ROCKS Their Targeted Accounts. The program highlights are impressive:

  • 25% of targeted companies converted to pipeline opportunities in only 90 days.
  • 42% of companies responded to the program.

In my opinion, the key was a solution created specifically for every company, including a 40 page recommendation. The program didn’t rely on traditional marketing language, it skipped directly to presenting a relevant solution. A solution that was valuable to the recipient, not a marketing message that was valuable to the company to distribute.

Like many buyers, I often will not take the time to talk to sales until I know you have an appropriate solution for me. So skip the sales pitch and materials, make it easy for me to understand your solution for my business. You just might get a quick sale.

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  • Marcus Schaller

    Totally agree! Salesy language and parlor tricks are useless. One danger in jumping to the solution presentation, however, is basing it on assumptions that may or may not be true.

    I think that it’s really critical to have that all-important discovery conversation first. A) it gives us a much clearer understanding of the true nature of the problem and how to best present a solution B) it indicates a certain level of interest and urgency, something that needs to exist for someone to actually take the time to look at our presentation to begin with.

    • http://digitalb2b.wordpress.com Eric Wittlake

      Hi Marcus, I certainly won’t turn down a discovery meeting when I can get one, but sometimes you need another way to break through. That is where jumping to a solution can be helpful.

      I know, as a media buyer, marketing or sales materials with testimonials, platitudes, offerings specifics or audience research isn’t likely to get my attention unless I’m actively looking for a solution and your research happens to nail it (which is unlikely). However, when someone flags one of the clients I work with, looks at the media they are running, and then uses that to take a first pass at what might be appropriate for my client, it gets my attention.

      Even though the assumptions may be off, if they are reasonable based on what they should be able to know about me (and most buyers likely understand, or even underestimate, where this threshold is), the effort and relevance normally outweighs the problems. And besides, you won’t get my attention otherwise.

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  • http://mindtimegroup.com Maureen Blandford

    Hiya, Eric.

    I absolutely concur that both sales and marketing need to consider this option – if they can do it with finesse. I’m with you that I’ll always take a Discovery option where one exists, but with prospects in my wheelhouse, I can skip to “many of our clients struggle with A, B, C, and it’s costing them X, Y, Z. Does that ring true for you? Some of what we’ve done to help close the gap is 1,2,3.”

    I’ve even started presenting proposals with the $s first, followed by the logic path to the solution.

    I do wish Marketing would lead more with an acknowledgement of mktplace pain first. It’s an excellent attn-getter.

    Cheers.

    • http://digitalb2b.wordpress.com Eric Wittlake

      Maureen, thanks for the comment. You have an interesting approach, make certain everyone knows that your proposal is affordable (or not) at the outset, make cost part of the context instead of making it the price of a solution at the end.

      I agree 110% on acknowledging a market pain, or problem / solution selling. One of the challenges seems to be problems that start to sound so similar from marketers (reduce cost!) while the underlying challenge the business has is far more specific (support two additional regional offices without increasing IT infrastructure spending). It is the mindset of a real one-to-one conversation, not the one-to-one marketing promised by marketing automation. Anything that gets us there will move our marketing efforts forward.

      Thanks again for the comment, great to see you here again, if I recall I “met” you first through another comment right here!

      Eric