In the US alone, over 500,000 new startups emerge every year. Of that, 50% are likely fail within the first year. And within the first five years, another 56% are expected to fail.
The recent recession in the US had a devastating effect on businesses. Within a two-year period between 2008 and 2010, 170,000 businesses closed. And more businesses closed than opened in that timeframe.
In the 1960s, fewer than 10 new businesses were added to the Fortune 500 list each year. Today, there are 50 businesses added to the list every year.
Only 57 companies remain today from the original 1955 Fortune 500 list.
While businesses die from a range of reasons—from product obsolescence to poor management to ineffective sales and marketing strategy—the ability to sell a solution has become more critical than ever in this mercurial economic climate. Simply pitching a specific product or service just doesn’t work anymore. Rather, companies must think of themselves as problem-solvers for their clients.
Here are three simple ways to sell more effectively in this market:
Help Identify Challenges: Prospects don’t want your product or service, they want solutions to their challenges. Rather than selling a product or service, think of yourself and your company as a provider of solutions to challenges. What are the challenges that your best prospects are constantly facing? Help your prospects identify those challenges.
Identify Value: Once you’ve identified those challenges, now it’s time to identify the value of solving those challenges. Every challenge has a dollar value attached to it. In business-to-business sales, this is very direct, but even in business-to-consumer sales, every challenge has a cost associated with it—if only in the form of wasted time and frustration. Ask questions to help the prospect articulate what solving their challenges is actually worth.
Present to the Challenges: Once you’ve identified a prospect’s challenges and the value of fixing those challenges, you want your presentation to gear specifically and exclusively to the solving of those challenges. More specifically, if you have a product benefit that addresses a challenge that the prospect isn’t struggling with, then don’t get into that product benefit. Focus only on the part of your product during your presentation that addresses the prospect’s challenges.
How have you felt a difference in the selling environment over the past decade or more? Please share below in the comments.
Marc Wayshak is author of the book Game Plan Selling and a sales conference speaker.