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IT channel sales strategy: Resolution selling

Solution-based selling has some big flaws, says Ingram Micro's Kirk Robinson. He explains why resolution selling makes more sense.

Four years ago, Apple launched a marketing campaign around the catchy phrase, "There's an app for that." Today, this mantra is still being used, and it's even being adopted by IT solutions providers in a slightly different way. "You're getting too much spam in your email? We have a solution for that. Your backups are taking too long? We have a solution for that."

While the solution selling approach does an adequate job of addressing customers' immediate business problems, it fails in a few key areas.

  • By selling a single solution, you open yourself up to price shopping, and that's never good.
  • By taking this approach, you're putting yourself in a reactive mode, which puts the burden of identifying IT problems on your customer. Not only does this approach make the customers' jobs more difficult, it leaves money on the table.
  • It focuses on the technology, not the service, and that's where your value comes into play.

So, instead of selling technology, you need to sell resolution and success. Show customers and prospects how your services and an ongoing relationship with your company will help them resolve IT issues and, more important, meet their business goals and objectives.

Having a solution for the problem at hand is great. But too often the relationship starts and stops there.

Sure, having a solution for the problem at hand is great. But too often the relationship starts and stops there or becomes a Chinese menu approach to service. If you find yourself falling into the point-solution-selling trap, consider ways for moving beyond this sales model to what many are calling resolution selling.

One of the many definitions of resolution is "analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones." And, that's the underlying goal here. As the trusted adviser, you take on the burden of understanding the complexity of customers' IT needs and present them with a no-hassle, all-in-one resolution or service that addresses their business points -- the ones they're aware of as well as the ones you help them discover.

So, where are you going to find customers? Start in your own backyard. Russell H. Conwell's "Acres of Diamonds" is a story about a guy who sold his property to go look for diamonds when the biggest diamonds were already on his property. That's not to say that you might not have to eventually go prospecting for new business in new territories, but make sure you've exhausted the obvious sources first within your own customer base. Chances are good that if you've previously been taking the "we have a solution for that" approach to selling, you now have an opportunity to grow the business within your existing customer base and extend your relationships.

Kirk Robinson is senior vice president of Ingram Micro Inc.’s commercial markets division and global accounts.

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