SPI's Solution Selling is another end-to-end sales approach that is extremely process-oriented. Solution Selling works to align an organization's sales process with the customer's buying processes.
Like Miller-Heiman's system, SPI provides many different components encompasses sales planning, execution, and management. Solution Selling® diagnoses customer problems and syncs up selling and buying activities. Strategic Opportunity Selling is its planning methodology. Major Account Selling focuses on teams selling to large, strategic accounts. Executive-Level Selling are techniques to engage high- and mid-level executives. Sales Management and Coaching is their component for working with sales managers. Solution Selling for Channel Management™ focuses on distribution to reach end-user customers. Solution Selling for Call Centers™ focuses on telemarketing.
Sun Tzu's strategy provides the perspective and decision-making skills that those working within the Solution Selling framework need to make these processes work. Since SPI's Sales Process Implementation Methodology and its Value Cycle follow a four-step cycle that closely resembles the Progress Cycle of Sun Tzu's strategy. This means that, working with SPI's framework, the four specific toolkits provided by Sun Tzu's strategy can be directly applied to both the on-going development of the sales process and to the techniques that Solution Selling uses within a sales cycle.
On-Going Sales Process Development
One of the strengths of the SPI model is its recognition that the sales process is dynamic. Like Sun Tzu's strategy, SPI's system sees developing the sales process and a process of continuous improvement. New knowledge, skills, abilities, and techniques must be continually integrated into an organization's sales process. In Sun Tzu's strategy, we describe this specifically as advancing your methods.
SPI's Sales Processes Implementation Methodology™ is a structure for introducing these changes. This on-going cycle has four steps that continually repeat themselves:
- Project Initiation where new additions to the sales process are assessed.
- Management Alignment where new additions are integrated into the sales process.
- Management Review where new additions are deployed.
- Management Debrief where new addition are sustained.
Those familiar with Sun Tzu's Warrior's Rules will immediately see the overlap here with the Progress Cycle of Listen-Aim-Move-Claim by which all positions are advanced. These four steps can be used more effectively when their users are capable of applying the listen-aim-move-claim toolkits from Sun Tzu's strategy. The listening and aiming tools can help them better assess additions to the sales process. The toolkits for moving help them overcome any obstacles in integrate and deploy new additions. The claiming toolkit can help them both evaluate and sustain those additions.
The World’s Standard for Sales Execution Process
Much of the Solution Selling system is focused on not just process, but execution. In his book, The New Solution Selling, Keith Eades describes a four-step Value Cycle that builds up, in the terms of Sun Tzu's strategy, a sales position through the sales process. The main idea behind this model is that the salesperson has to constantly "measure" to ensure value. Again, this model has four steps, and again, those steps follow the Progress Cycle of classical strategy very closely. The Value Cycle's four steps are:
- Lead: Initial Value Proposition
- Verify: Refined Value Proposition
- Close: Value Justification /Analysis
- Measure: Success Criteria
According to API's research, a very small percentage of sales professionals — less than 5% — ever measure the actual value that customers receive from their solutions, or even get any credit from customers for the value that they delivered. This is why they see their Value Cycle as so important and this is exactly why the Strategy Institute teaches that the Claim step is so important in the progress cycle. Both systems see this as the single most overlook step because it is too easy to take it for granted.
However, all the tools of the Progress Cycle give us a deeper perspective here on what is happening when we create value for a customer. Listening tools help salespeople using Solution Selling formulate the value proposition, seeing opportunities for value that others would miss because they are trained to think in terms emptiness and fullness. Aiming tools provide alternative method for verifying value, bringing in principles such as distance, barriers, and dangers that are easy to overlook without training in front-line strategy. Moving tools help the salesperson with closing the sale, helping the salesperson to see the exact type of response needed to the challenges they face in the terms of Sun Tzu's strategy. And finally, Claiming tools help salespeople understand what types of elements are needed at the measure stage to secure future sales and referrals.
The Involvement of Key Executives
SPI's research has determined that high-ranking buyers generally get involved in sales decision at the beginning of a project to set the strategy and direction, and at the end to evaluate success and make corrections. A large part of the SPI process is devoted to helping salespeople develop strong relationships with executives. Within the Solution Selling process, the salesperson that helps executives to initiate projects and achieve their strategic objectives. The focus on the Value Cycle and especially measuring the effectiveness of the program is a part of creating deeper buyer-seller relationships.
Mastering the principles of Sun Tzu's strategy gives your salespeople another type of opportunity to develop deeper relationships with the key executives. As certified strategic professional, your salespeople will be able to offer strategic insights to executives that they cannot get anywhere else--except of course, through our training. Salespeople trained in our methods are able to identify, understand, and articulate customer's strategic problems on an extremely high level, increasing their influence in any consultative sale.
In a world where most salespeople are limited to understanding customer's problems in terms of the solutions that you offer, salespeople trained in our method can offer much more penetrating analysis of their customers' operations, and discover new ways to justify and quantify the value of your solutions to key executives. Unlike most people, your salespeople can be comfortable talking with serious business people about serious strategic issues at a high level of understanding, not only compared to other salespeople but to most business executives.