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The End of Solution Sales-What You Need to Know


insight sellingAre you selling with yesterday's sales solution?

You may be, according to authors Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon and Nicholas Toman in the Harvard Business Review article The End of Solution Sales.

The authors point out that "customers don't need you (i.e. the sales person) the way they used to." They cite an Corporate Executive Board study of more than 1,400 B2B customers that "those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier."

To Sell More Effectively, Sell Differently

Is your selling team discovering that your "customers are coming to the table armed to the teeth with a deep understanding of their problem and a well-scoped RFP for a solution" and that "sales conversations (are turning) into fulfillment conversations"? If so, and if they are using solution selling, then a new approach is needed.

Insight Selling

Based on an analysis of top performing sales reps, the authors suggest replacing the traditional "solution selling" approach with an "insight selling" strategy. Compared to solution selling, insight selling:

  • Uncovers the customer's unrecognized need
  • Engages the customer before the customer has pinpointed a problem
  • Coaches the customer about how to buy

The Power of Disruptive Ideas

Here's a story about how to regain selling control by using a disruptive approach.

"A sales leader at a business services company recently told us about one of the firm’s top sellers, who, asked to give an RFP presentation, quickly commandeered the meeting to his own ends. 'Here is our full response to your RFP—everything you were looking for,' he told the assembled executives. 'However, because we have only 60 minutes together, I’m going to let you read that on your own. I’d like to use our time to walk you through the three things we believe should have been in the RFP but weren’t, and to explain why they matter so much.'”


Traditional solution selling is coming to an end because buyers can use publicly available information to diagnose their own needs, identify solutions, and force sellers into a price conversation. The response is to sell a different type of solution in a radically different way - sell insights.

Marketing and Insight Selling

To align marketing with insight selling, marketing must identify the areas of emerging need and provide the compelling content and materials that help sales with the insight selling conversation. Start the conversation today buy contacting me for a complimentary call. Click the link below.


N.B.: You may have to register for a free guest membership to view this article in full on the HBR site.

Mission: To help small and mid-size businesses acquire customers by re-thinking their business and marketing strategies.


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