For decades, sales theory has centered on providing solutions to customer’s needs, but every industry across the globe is seeing major changes in customer’s purchase behavior. Building an effective sales team that stays ahead of the competition in the changing sales landscape requires challenging old assumptions about sales.
Customers are better informed and able to seek out information for themselves. When they identify a problem, they seek out their own solutions. A recent Corporate Executive Board study of 1,400 businesses found that most buyers had already made 60% of pre-purchase decisions such as identifying problems, ranking solutions and considering pricing before the first contact with a prospective supplier.
At the point of RFP, the customer has already decided most factors that will affect their purchase decision. The sales team that is able to forge a contact while early decisions are still fluid can possibly steer a decision their way. Even so, customers do not see as much differentiation between competitors as the competitors see between themselves. At the point where a customer has already identified a problem that needs a solution, the solutions focused sales is no longer effective because most buyers are unwilling to take the time to share their needs and preferences in the discovery phase.