You sell products, services or both. But buyers don’t want things or services. What they really want are solutions to problems (stating it negatively) or desired results (stating it positively.) These solutions and desired results can sound abstract or intuitive when initially talking, but they are very poignant and constantly sought after.

Your Solution Portfolio

Your solution portfolio is the array of benefits you offer - not features or services. You can’t show pictures of them. It’s hard to guarantee them, but it’s what people want. And to make it more difficult, different people want different benefits even in the same company and/or department.

Let’s say you sell software. Well, what does this software offer - speed of record keeping, information for decision making, algorithms to calculate and predict events, etc. No! This is not your offering. Your offering is more sales, better quality, more profits, more market share, motivated workers, more throughput, etc. – desired results. Notice I didn’t say cost savings, less downtime, fewer mistakes, etc. That’s because these are negatives. C-level executives don’t warm to negatives.

Get rid of the term Value Proposition. It’s dated, overused and limiting. Yet, sales people and marketers love to charge with it – like it’s some kind of net that can capture anyone’s and everyone’s attention.

You provide a portfolio of value propositions, but the only value that’s of interest to a C-Level or a manager or an operator is what each individual values.

Now if you’re calling on lower levels – managers, supervisors, operator/users then these people don’t really warm to the business offerings. They are focused on doing their jobs and are looking for solutions to help them. But even then, speed of record keeping and information for decision making is not what they buy. They buy what those two features do for them – quicker responses to the boss, better decisions and forecasts, …, happier bosses, recognition, excited workers, etc.

And here’s the catch. If these managers have to seek capital authorizations, budget approval or purchase order sign-off to buy, then you the seller and these managers have to focus on the business aspects of your solution portfolio for the C-levels and Profit-Center Leaders.

So your offering is not what your stuff is, or features it has, or what it does. It is what your stuff does for someone – personally. What benefits does it offer this person?

This difference may sound trivial, yet it is profound. A light bulb provides light and light allows someone to function in the dark, get where s/he wants to go uninjured, or read for entertainment or education, or see the people s/he’s with. So, one is not selling a light bulb or even light, but rather one or all of those benefits light can offer that someone

Make It Personal

Now that someone is a very important factor. Everyone has his or her own desires or problems. The best approach to capture interest and engage anyone is to discuss the specific wants of the individual. And the only way to do that is to have each person tell you (speak the words) what that desire or problem is. The biggest mistake is to assume everyone in the same company or realm thinks alike. The group may have common goals, but each has his priority and spin. Ignore this and you will appeal to some and bore others.

So to prepare for anyone and everyone, write all the solutions and results your products and service provide, categorized to the job responsibilities that you’ll encounter, from C-levels to receptionists. Keep it on you for all sales calls. Vinyl coat it and review it before each sales call. Then when you’re with a buyer, lead with a question to see if the person is interested in attaining one of the benefits that just so happens to be in your portfolio. If not, select another until you hit one. Then, let the discussion begin.

And now I invite you to learn more.

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