There are two ways of looking at what you sell. You can focus on the individual products and services or you can focus on the problems you solve. The most common approach is to have a product centric focus. There is no doubt that a product centric approach can produce sales – especially where there is an established market with educated buyers. What happens, though, is that the person selling will often miss out on cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. Selling solutions sounds the harder option but is actually easier to do and it normally leads to larger sales.

I was running a masterclass recently and one attendee was from a printing company. This person was struggling with two issues. Firstly, they were getting lots of price enquiries for printing, few of which were converting into sales. Secondly, they were finding it hard to sell value added services. Both problems were caused by taking a product centric approach. I suggested this person took the time to why their prospects had enquired about the printing.

The result was the person closed a very big order for both printing and value added services on the same day as the masterclass. The difference was because she was now taking an interest in the bigger picture. In this case, the customer was planning a marketing campaign. Response rates to previous campaigns were low and this was a problem. The printer was able to sell copywriting and other services focused on improving response rates.

A solution focus should also lead to the creation of specific packages for specific problems. For example, one of my clients was struggling to sell their services as an excutive coach for small businesses. Together we worked out that many of the problems she solved were caused by a lack of delegation. Once she understood this she went on to successfully sell a range of seminars and coaching packages focusing on improving performance through better delegation.

Taking a solution focus requires a better understanding of our target audience and their problems. Once we have that, however, both the sales and marketing becomes so much easier and the opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling greatly improved.