Many sellers struggle with how to communicate the value of potential solutions to buyers. This is because most sales training and marketing collateral tend to focus on the attributes and characteristics of products or services. They emphasize how products or services operate, rather than on how they provide value in solving specific customer problems. This is a subtle but vitally important distinction.
Product-focused messaging frustrates buyers because it gives them only part of the information they need to make a buying decision. While knowing how the features of a product or service will work is useful, it is not enough. To feel comfortable with a purchase, buyers also demand that sellers articulate how a solution will impact their business and to what degree. Specifically, they want to know what kind of unique advantage a solution may provide, and how much it will be worth to them before they can make a confident buying decision.
Developing Effective Solution Messages
We explored this fundamental need for effective solution messaging in our book, The Solution-Centric Organization. In that book, Keith Eades and I described how a product marketing team can help sellers to articulate value by conducting a customer-focused solution messaging exercise. Product marketing teams can capture their thinking in a Solution Messaging Card, which consists of the following components:
- Customer Problem â€“ a brief description of the problem, need, or opportunity being experienced by an idealized customer (or â€œpersonaâ€)
- Trend Relevance â€“ key trends and issues in the marketplace that relate to the problem state of the customer, which illustrate its pertinence and importance
- Cause of Problem â€“ specific causal factors in the customerâ€™s environment that are creating the problem situation
- Problem Impact â€“ specific operational and financial impact of the problem on the customerâ€™s business â€“ specifically, the bad things that happen if the problem is not addressed
- Required Capabilities â€“ capabilities required to address the specific causes of the problem
- Metrics / Proof of Value â€“ operational and financial metrics that can be used to determine if the problem is being successfully addressed
- Solution Linkage â€“ how the proposed solution fulfills the capabilities required to address the problem or need
- Differentiators â€“ unique aspects of the solution that provide an advantage for the customer
- Case Studies â€“ related case studies that demonstrate prior success in solving the problem
Example of a Solution Messaging Card
Messages for each critical business issue that a solution addresses can be used to create a â€œdeckâ€ of Solution Messaging Cards. Such a collection of solution-centric messaging provides a common language and frame of reference for key marketing and sales communications. This gives sellers the ability to communicate effectively with buyers, who can then make a confident purchase decision.
Weâ€™ve developed a Solution Messaging Card template, which you can download here.
If your sales team is having trouble articulating the value of your solutions to buyers, we can help â€“ contact us for a complimentary consultation at +1 (704) 227-6500, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.