A problem-centric sales approach can be transformative for sales teams, enabling business professionals to build deep relationships with clients and provide highly effective solutions. However, shifting away from a product-centric approach requires planning and investment.
Below, 19 Forbes Business Council members share their key strategies for how sales teams can successfully adopt problem-centric selling. With research, training and active listening, sales teams can create tailored solutions that lead to long-term client relationships.
1. Bring Remote Teams Together Periodically
In today’s virtual world, sales teams should try to meet and work side by side at least a few times a month. Believe it or not, it was easier to learn to problem solve when sales professionals were in the same office and doing the same tasks. Problems would arise, be discussed and solved together in minutes. Doing this would also help them correct other issues as a large group in the future. – Ralph DiBugnara, Home Qualified
2. Focus On Researching The Customer’s Needs
Sales teams adopting problem-centric selling should prioritize in-depth customer research to truly understand their customers’ pain points and needs. This step is crucial because it allows salespeople to tailor their solutions effectively, demonstrate genuine empathy and build trust with clients. Ultimately, it leads to more successful sales outcomes and long-term customer relationships. – Corey Scurlock, Equum Medical
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3. Consider How Your Client Serves Their Customers
In sales, the only reason that a customer would—or even should—consider doing business with us is if we enhance their ability to attract and serve their customers. Too many salespeople fail to look past the initial sale because they get focused on delivering a solution to a customer as if that’s the end. These salespeople often fail to look downstream and understand the value that they contribute to their customers. – Mike Esterday, Integrity Solutions
4. Create Targeted Solutions For Better Customer Relationships
Sales teams should invest in comprehensive training to deeply understand the client’s pain points. This knowledge ensures that suggested solutions directly address specific problems, fostering trust and relevancy. Such a targeted approach enhances customer relationships and ensures that solutions offered resonate effectively, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful sales conversions. – Henri Al Helaly, Skytex Aero
5. Create Solutions That Mitigate Pain
The majority of us look to avoid pain, so anything that enables or empowers us to mitigate pain or avoid a problem tends to command our attention. The critical next step that many overlook is keeping the solution simple. We make purchase decisions based on emotion and justify them with logic. If the solution is logical and simple, it’s more likely to succeed. – Marian Evans, Elevate BC Ltd
6. Invest In Training For Your Team
Problem-centric selling is an effective technique because it requires proactively identifying and addressing potential sales barriers. However, this approach can be challenging as it requires specific steps for success. One critical step is investing in training and support for all team members. They must grasp the importance of problem-centric selling and possess the necessary skills to implement it effectively. – Michael Shribman, APS Global Partners Inc.
7. Make Sure You’ve Identified The Correct Problem
Make sure you’ve truly assessed the situation to ensure you’re focusing on the right problem. Then, try user testing to see how people respond. Don’t throw everything into one idea. Instead, test an idea and then pivot if things aren’t working out as you had planned! – Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, Molly’s Milk Truck
8. Start By Asking Questions
Give prospects the space to realize their problem, why it is important and what will happen if they do not solve it. The easiest way to do that is by asking thoughtful questions. Once the prospect comes to understand their problem, they will trust you since you helped them with the diagnosis by asking the right questions. – Abdulmuhsen Fakih, Systemize It
9. Prioritize Research To Create Customized Solutions
Sales teams adopting problem-centric selling should prioritize thorough customer research. Understanding the customer’s specific pain points and challenges is crucial. This step is vital because it allows sales teams to tailor their solutions directly to the customer’s needs, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale and long-term customer satisfaction. – Kellie Rastegar, Rastegar Property Company
10. Practice Active Listening
For sales teams adopting problem-centric selling, it’s vital to deeply understand customers’ pain points. By actively listening and researching, they can offer tailored solutions that directly address these challenges, making the sales approach more genuine and effective. – Maximilian Kramer, Kramer & Matt GmbH
11. Adopt An Empathetic Approach
For sales teams adopting problem-centric selling, it’s crucial to invest in thorough training to deeply understand customers’ pain points. This knowledge enables sales reps to tailor solutions that address real issues rather than just pushing products. Such an empathetic approach not only fosters trust, but also positions the brand as a genuine problem solver, enhancing long-term customer relationships. – Andrei Neacsu, HyperSense Software Inc.
12. Consider Your Approach From Your Customer’s Perspective
Potential customers are buyers, so what problem do you solve and how will that help your customers to win business? Find the customers’ pain points and focus on those issues. – Allen Kopelman, Nationwide Payment Systems Inc.
13. Identify Key Players In Different Departments
Today, it takes a team (not just an individual) to make important decisions. Our salespeople find that the value or purpose of a product or service that a customer wants to buy is relevant to other departments (e.g., finance, operations or HR). People in those departments have a direct or indirect influence. Therefore, salespeople need to identify those key players early and get them to support the purchase. – Jerry Cahn, Age Brilliantly
14. Anticipate The Needs Of Your Target Audience
Knowing the problems of your target market allows your sales team to hit on those pain points during a sales pitch. For example, if your target market loves real estate and has the money to invest in it but lacks the time to manage it, your pitch should touch on the pain point of them not having time and how you can help them get more time back through investing. – Joseph Kimbrough, Apex Real Estate Investments
15. Establish Trust With Your Customer By Listening
Start by listening, not selling. Understand the customer’s pain points as if they were your own. This empathy creates trust, the cornerstone of any successful problem-centric selling approach. When trust is established, solutions become conversations rather than pitches, leading to more meaningful and lasting customer relationships. – Elie Y. Katz, National Retail Solutions (NRS)
16. Gather Information Through Research And Interviews
Thoroughly understand your customers’ pain points and needs. Our sales teams have found that conducting in-depth research and actively listening to property owners and investors allows us to identify their specific challenges. By tailoring our solutions to address these pain points, we not only provide more value but also establish stronger client relationships, ultimately driving sales success. – Johan Hajji, UpperKey
17. Ensure Your Team Understands The Product
First and foremost, your sales team must know your product inside and out. Once they have this knowledge, they will understand the true problems that the product is solving for your clients and prospects. Sales teams should view each sales call as an opportunity for data collection and to understand exactly what problems need to be solved. The team can then work alongside the marketing department to create material that highlights these solutions. – Christian Brown, Glewee
18. Study Your Customer’s Industry
Sales teams adopting problem-centric selling should invest in thorough training to deeply understand the customer’s industry, challenges and pain points. This knowledge positions the salesperson as a consultant rather than just a vendor. When sales teams genuinely understand and address client problems, they build trust, enhance credibility and foster longer-lasting, value-driven relationships. – Ari Chazanas, Lotus West Properties
19. Train Your Team For A Different Approach
Invest in training sales reps on problem-centric selling. This approach requires a major mindset shift from product-focused methods. Deep training equips representatives to have more value-based conversations and profitable long-term customer relationships. It’s crucial for driving adoption and outcomes. – Chase Hughes, Pro Business Plans
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