Sell the Solution, Not the Product

Life is full of these trite sayings but when you take time to think about them, you realize why they meant so much in the first place. "Sell the solution to the problem, not the product" is one of those obvious truths in sales but one that rarely gets practice in managed services or cloud computing.

Sell the problem you solve, not the productI'd like to share some observations on both the service provider and vendor sides of the channel and offer some suggestions on how both groups can drastically improve their sales efforts.

For MSPs

The days when MSPs used to sell the technical of what they did are over. Most MSPs get that they must relate to their clients on a business level, and save the techie speak for the NOC. The trick about selling managed services today is that the business needs and risks to the customers are changing, often before the client is aware of the risk.

So, MSPs must sell the risk by educating the client, and then sell the solution to that risk. Today, cyber threats are advancing all around us and most people are acutely aware of their risk. MSPs have been waiting for the days when the technical challenges facing organizations were immediately translatable into a business threat. That day is here.

MSPs must become supremely comfortable interacting with customers on a business level. This means knowing the business of your customers and being able to ask questions and listen to what causes them pain. Once the pain point has been identified, a technical solution to it can be created. See, wasn't that simple?

For Vendors

Companies that sell to MSPs are in a slightly different situation, at least according to my experience. Most vendors do want to sell the product and make that the majority of their marketing and sales discussions. Why they do this I can't say but I hope they are reading this post.

I listen to vendor pitches almost on a daily basis. I hear new vendors creating new products and they tell me why the MSPs should pay attention. Most of the time, the message is about the product and has nothing to do with the pain point of the MSP.

In the odd scenario where they do talk about a MSP pain point, it isn't even something I recognize or hear MSPs complaining about. A lot of vendors like to create products and then create or imagine the need belonging to the MSP. The truth is, there are so many unique needs MSPs have that could be solved by a single piece of technology, and yet that vendor will never try and ask the MSP about the problem that needs solving.

There are a lot of great technologies out there, created by some really innovative companies. These companies need to, however, better understand how to communicate with MSPs and really learn how they operate in order to effectively sell to them. Only then will they be able to sell their solution to the MSP problem, instead of the product.


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One Response to Sell the Solution, Not the Product

  1. Rayner says:

    Great article and advice! Needs discovery is critical to the sales cycle. If they aren’t uncovered initially, how can a solution be presented to the client? I’m not sure why more vendors aren’t drilling this step into their sales team… And in terms of ethics, what benefits are you providing your client when you sell them a product that you have no idea will help resolve their issues or needs? If you have positioned yourself as their trusted adviser, you’re abusing the privilege.

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