Robert-photo-w-icon-150-4-7-10-FINAL4-150x150During the recent World Cup event, one of the best players was asked why he was so successful and he replied, “I never go to where the ball is – I always move to where the ball is going to be.”

When you propose solutions to meet a customer’s needs, aim for where they want to go.

When you are developing solutions to solve a customer’s problem or meet a stated need, think first about where the customer seeks to be and less about where he or she is today. The customer’s current circumstance or process is the competition, and you’re proposing solutions that will create changes to the status quo. Resistance to change is normal – overcoming the resistance is your challenge. It’s vital to include this reality in the alternative solutions you develop.

How will you produce value for them, value that helps them move to where the ball will be?

Customers appreciate having options to consider and it helps them commit to one of your proposed solutions in a couple of key ways:

  • Presenting options reduces change risk perceived by the customer, opening their eyes to benefits rather than constraints. It provides an opportunity for the customer to explore choices rather than having just a single proposed solution to evaluate; and
  • If you are proposing to a customer team or group, then engaging them to discuss what makes one option more attractive than another helps clarify their thinking regarding the stated needs and motivating factors they shared with you during Discovery. As you facilitate this discussion, remind them about their goals as they consider the alternatives or guide their consideration about one option that best removes a key constraint while another may not. The flow of this dialogue provides a sense of which proposed solution is gaining the most momentum.

Consider the following when you’re developing your solution recommendations:

  • If you perceive that resistance to change is high, propose a minimal risk solution. A targeted, lower cost alternative may not address all their needs but it does move them productively towards the total solution with less risk to them while strengthening your credibility to deliver on your promise;
  • If you sense that they realize the full value of your solution and want to maximize it, then add synergistic offerings that increase total value over time. Bundle service support to maximize their uptime or provide volume pricing for parts or consumables, and you’ll be more indispensable.
  • If you know that they are ready to buy now, then propose the solution that meets all their needs but include some information that validates the projected performance of your solution.

Proposing solutions based on where your customer seeks to be helps them efficiently evaluate options and accelerate their commitment to you and your solution.

How does your Discovery process uncover your customer’s vision and goals?

What options can you propose that increase the total value produced for your customer?