In this segment, we explain the limitations of solution selling and introduce a new model that is associated with better selling outcomes.
The first major breakthrough is selling came in 1910 with the separation of sales and account management functions. Edward strong introduced the concept of teachable selling techniques in 1925 but his features and benefits based model resulted in an emphasis on push selling. Solution selling emerged in the 1970s based on the insight that sales reps that engage in a two-way dialog with customers are better able to understand their needs and tailor their offerings accordingly. The failure of solution selling to create sustainable advantage, however, has resulted in the search for a more effective model.
In 2007, the Sales Executive Council initiated a landmark study to understand the selling styles that are most effective in a down economy. Their research revealed that one selling style, the Challenger, significantly outperformed all others. Challengers outperform their peers by an even wider margin as the complexity of the selling process increases. What distinguishes Challengers from other reps is their ability to teach customers things they don’t already know, tailor their offerings to different stakeholders involved in the buying process and push customers to take action when they identify better solutions.
What sets challengers apart from other reps is their ability to teach, tailor and take control of the sale. Challengers teach by reframing assumptions and then quantifying the ability of their offerings to either make more money or save more money for customers. It’s important to note that successful teaching always leads customers to your unique capabilities. Effective challengers also tailor their pitches depending on the industry, company, role and individual that they’re engaging with. This is critical because decision drivers can vary widely by group. Finally, challengers take charge of the conversation by separating viable prospects from price shoppers, creating urgency to take action and gaining commitment from customers to widen their frame of potential opportunities.
The first step in developing an effective commercial teaching pitch is defining the specific capabilities that set you apart from competitors. The next step is to identify the specific customer problems that are resulting in significant lost sales or unnecessary costs. Iridium Therapeutics successfully completed these challenging tasks and then began convincing customers to rethink their working assumptions by connecting challenges that they acknowledged with bigger problems and opportunities than they ever realized. Iridium then quantified the financial implications of its insight in a way that was both credible and connected emotionally with customers. In the final step of its commercial teaching pitch, Iridium demonstrates how its solution is better able than anyone else’s to help customers capitalize on these opportunities.