It's such an ambiguous term. In this post, I'll dig into the topic of selling solutions.
But first, let's discuss why we see this trend in the material handling industry.
Warehouse automation is an emerging need.
The difference between today's forklift and the forklift of the future is unfolding now. Providing solutions says you're changing lanes. Dealer Principals know this is important to the growth of your business.
Why else should you sell solutions?
It means you sell more than forklifts.
When forklift inventory shrinks and the strained supply chain can't deliver the one product you're known for selling, you need product diversity.
You want your customers to think of you as a partner in all things material handling. Offering loading dock equipment, high-speed doors, and pallet racking is smart business when trucks are hard to find.
WHY you want to sell solutions is clear. You're future-proofing, and you're diversifying.
Solution Providers Contribute to Customer Success
Solution selling is not taking an order, fulfilling a quote, or pushing a product. That's what vendors do. Vendors are on one end and Solution Providers are on the other end of the scale.
The old way of selling has a place, and if you're honest, the forklift dealership of the past was successful as a vendor who responded to quotes. Give the customer what they want. Make a sale. Congratulations, dealer of the year 2012.
We know from research quoted in The Challenger Sale, the most successful salespeople don't give the customer what they ask for. The customer isn't always right. Buyers think they know what they want, but they are not the expert, you are. The best consultants challenge the buyer's wants and won't let them purchase something that isn't the best fit for their application.
Now let's talk about what it means to be a solutions provider.
Solution providers solve problems.
A solutions provider asks questions and listens. They diagnose first and prescribe a solution in the customer's best interest. Your goal is for your product can play a role in the success of its business.
This only works when you're obsessed with your customer's problems. Ask questions until you uncover their pain. Then, together, you create a vision of life without the pain. This vision includes your product. Once they can visualize the problem, the next step is to solve it.
Matching your product to their pain takes insight into their situation and knowledge of what you're selling. Providing solutions takes competence.
Naturally, you may be asking another question. How?
How Do You Become A Solutions Provider?
Recognizing a need for expanding the team's knowledge and expertise is the first step. But let's be clear. You can't say you provide solutions if your team doesn't have the expertise to do so. Developing knowledge and competence takes work and patience.
Some won't rise to the challenge. Others will.
In the journey of expertise, you put a stake in the ground and say to the world this is what we do. We're experts. Then you work to make that statement true.
Your claim should be seen in your marketing and on your website. If you want your customers to know you sell solutions, develop a communication plan that tells them so. If you don't tell them, they won't know. Be aware; it's the words you use. What you say and what you write are superpowers. Your goal is to repeat your customer's problems back to them and help them see a vision of a solution.
The best marketers use the same words over and over. The material handling consultants and the marketing team need to read from the same script. If this sounds difficult, don't worry. You just need a framework for a sales funnel. We have a webinar on this topic.
We help forklift dealerships position themselves as solution providers. See how we execute this proven strategy to help dealerships expand into new markets when you register for our webinar.
If your forklift dealership is transitioning to becoming a solutions provider and you're building expertise to diversify the products you sell, congratulations. You're going from vendor to consultant. The reward of helping your customers solve business problems is not only fulfilling, but it's also profitable.
We'd love to see how you're telling the world about your expertise. Reach out to me on LinkedIn and share your marketing. If you want to learn more about creating a communication plan to fly your flag, check out the webinar "From Forklifts to Solutions."