STRONGMAN Solution-Selling Model

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STRONGMAN Solution-Selling Model

Solution selling is complex and very exciting. Whether you’re selling Business Process Automation (BPA) or another form of solution it is likely that you have tough job that involves a great deal of complexity.

This stuff’s chess; it ain’t checkers.

There may be dozens of decision makers and while all of them may not be required to say “Yes,” chances are that ANY of them could say “No.” You could be faced with all sorts of competing projects across the enterprise and political and financial landscapes can change quickly.

STRONGMAN offers a compelling model and simple acronym to help you succeed in your solution selling.

I’ll spell it out and then very briefly speak to each key area.

S-T-R-O-N-G-M-A-N
S is for Solution
T is for Timeline
R is for Review
O is for Options
N is for Need
G is for Galvanization
M is for Money
A is for Authority
N is for Negotiation

These are critical areas to address in your sales cycle. Let’s look more closely at each area.

STRONGMAN Solution Selling Model
S, Solution. Whether or not the prospect fully agrees at the onset of the engagement, you need to be sober in your assessment in your offering being a bona fide, legitimate solution for them. Otherwise, why bother?

T, Timeline. If the customer has a legitimate project that you’re selling to, what’s the exact timeline? How about the implementation timeline? Is there a compelling event or deadline driving this project? If so, that’s a positive element toward ensuring the deal gets done. If not, then create urgency by sourcing data points related to your solutions ROI. The prospect may not be required to implement your solution based on pending regulatory changes, but if they’re bleeding money every month and quarter that goes by, they’ll be motivated to implement your solution.

R, Review. Forget about entertaining and servicing a prospect that is not actually in review of the project. If they’re simply in research mode (vs. review mode), I would suggest that you balance this project with more advanced-stage opportunities in your pipeline.

O, Options. What options exist for your customer? Chances are there are at least five options: 1) Your solution, 2) Your competitor(s)’ solution, 3) Build it on their own or develop it in-house, 4) Do Nothing, and 5) Improve or upgrade their existing process (perhaps by adding resources or conducting training). You need to be able to sell against their available options, especially the option that most companies choose, which is “improve or upgrade existing processes.”

N, Need. Is there a need, do you understand the need and does the customer agree with you on what their need is? No other category serves to motivate a prospect to action than if they need your solution for some reason. Sometimes that may be based on regulatory changes, fiscal bleeding or political dynamics within the prospect’s organization.

G. Galvanization. This is my favorite one. Remember, you’re not in sales to entertain and serve – not completely anyway. If you’re working with customers who aren’t returning your calls promptly, not bringing other key contacts into meetings, not exposing you to post-purchase processes and other key indicators that they’re as active and committed to the sales process as you are, then you should either gain their commitment or move on.

M, Money. Is there is a project in motion? Is the funding of the project pre-approved? Does that funding meet your solution’s cost and all of the related costs such as the staff the prospect will need to deploy your solution? Are you sure of the fiscal cycles? Is the funding coming from 1) Project Budget, 2) Cap Ex (Capital Expense requiring a high level sign off), 3) Op Ex (Operating Expense), or from a 4) Departmental Budget?

Money is always key. Whether you consider your STRONGMAN male or female, either way he or she will need a pee-pee. So, along the lines of money, be sure that your STRONGMAN has a pee-pee, a Purchasing Process. Organizations buy in different ways and few things are as frustrating as getting toward the end of an extended selling cycle and discovering that the client’s purchasing process is going to take weeks and months. Qualify the pee-pee (Purchasing Process) as soon as you become confident than your deal is going to be successful.

And keep in mind, most companies have the ability to overspend on budgets or borrow from other budgets at about the same rate my wife does – which means they CAN do it, so don’t ever let a negotiator widdle you down solely because of a specific budget.

A, Authority. A champion is one thing, an authority is another. Is the senior executive even aware of the project? Who is the specific authority for each of the following: signing contracts, producing purchase orders, review legal documents, developing and implementing training programs, technical review and implementations, user acceptance, etc. If you’re selling solutions, you’d better be exposed to a variety of individuals with legitimate authority over each one.

N, Negotiation. Many times the real selling doesn’t start until it is time to negotiate. But you want to hear the saddest piece on solution selling: The negotiation process is typically when the sales rep gives up the most concessions and its also the point at which, in most cases, the customer has already made the decision to go forward. They’re exposing the sales rep to resources that are post-purchase resources (such as legal, technical deployment leads, trainers and purchasing managers); and somehow the sales rep feels obliged to start whacking away on their own proposal… that’s insanity.

If your prospect has invested so much in the process and you feel as though they want to move forward, then stop giving so much away at the latter stages of the engagement. The prospect is vested in the process and wants to move forward; so show more resilience in your pricing.

That’s STRONGMAN. I’ve used it for almost ten years now and I hope you find it an effective model for your solution selling success.

Sales Training
If you’re involved in complex selling cycles or selling a product or service that requires a broader decision-making-unit, you’d be well served to consider each letter from the STRONGMAN model.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on empowerment, sales and leadership. As managing director of Empowered Sales Training, Kevin works with organizations to empower sales success. Formerly, Kevin was a top performing sales executive in the ultra competitive technology sector. He's qualified for President's Club status in three Fortune 500 companies, carried the Olympic Torch and played in a national championship.

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