The New Salesman: Solution Seller vs. Problem Finder #pauto #distribution #automation @FrankHurtte
Somebody else I have known for a long time is Frank Hurtte, of River Heights Consulting. He has a thought-provoking post about the way to be a successful salesman in the automation industries now, as opposed to the way things used to be.
Here's an excerpt from his post:
The New Salesman: Solution Seller vs. Problem Finder
Getting There First and Don’t Be a Problem Solver
A few years ago we studied the Mechatronics Industry, which is the marriage of mechanical systems (gears, belts, electric motors and hydraulics) and electronic systems (computers,
PLC’s, sensors and digital screens). Along the way, our work discovered mechanical distributors were almost always the first to learn of customer projects. Why? Customers designed mechanical portions of their system ahead of the electronic portion.
In all but a few situations, the mechanics were engineered 60-90 days ahead of electronic controls.
We believed this gave the person selling both the mechanical components and electronic controls a competitive advantage over a “controls only” seller. Knowing about and working on solutions for the customer 90 days ahead of the competition should allow for better positioning (no pun intended) of products and unique solutions.
We were wrong. After discussions with dozens of sellers, we discovered only a few were able to capitalize on the time advantage.
The vast majority of the sellers were addressing customer problems as they surfaced. It was a serial sequence. Issues solved one at a time over a period of a few weeks. For instance, on day one the customer needed a couple of gears and the salesperson quickly identified the proper catalog number for the application. The next day, the customer needed a timing belt to connect to one of the gears. Again, the salesperson identified the proper belt.
It was as if each situation was a stand-alone event. The customer identified the problem and the salesperson found a solution to the problem. Many even referred to their practice as solution selling. And, in a purely linguistic way, they were correct. But, I think they were missing a point.