The death of solution sales

October 2, 2012

By Bob Johnson, NAID CEO

A while back, the Harvard Business Review published an article about the death of “solution sales.” The article explained that buyers now had access to so much information they no longer sought solutions. According to the authors and their research, generally speaking, customers arrived at their own solution prior to engaging the potential suppliers. Deciding on a supplier had been reduced to identifying the one who could adequately deliver the predetermined solution at the best price.

I do not dispute the finding but I do want to address the danger of this practice.

The vast majority of buyers have far too much on their plate and far too little time to spend on each item to learn enough about each one to adequately develop a complete and appropriate solution. The problem is they often don’t realize that is what they are doing (or they don’t want to admit it).

Take destruction services, for instance. A prospective customer, frustrated by employees failing to use the office shredding machine, decides to outsource the task. This customer enters the market with no idea of what qualifications they should require. Their “research” is done on the phone and, armed with no background, may amount to no more than comparing prices.

It is said that a person acting as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. Customers may be coming up with their own solutions without the benefit of providers’ input but they rarely serve their organization well in doing so.