Solution Selling: How It Impacts the Selling Process

Jeff Cochran


The sales idea known as solution selling started in 1975 when Frank Watts used his experiences in the real world to design his sales pitch toward what his buyer actually needed and not the product he was selling. It caught on and is still used today in sales techniques and classes. How can you use solution selling to benefit your business?


Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time

If you’ve done your homework prior to a sales meeting, you should have an understanding of your buyer’s needs and wants. Instead of planning a broad pitch that may include products for which your client has no need, tailor your pitch to include things that actually apply to their business. Would you walk into a horse ranch and try to sell cattle feed? They wouldn’t make a purchase, you would waste the time of the ranch manager, and everyone would walk away unhappy. No one enjoys a meeting that just wastes time, so don’t be that salesperson.


Become a Resource

It’s your job to fix things when a client has a problem. Your knowledge of the products and services you offer will help both of you get to the solution. The more information you have, the better you can help solve the problem. Knowing every possible use for your product or service will allow you to pull out the correct answer when a question arises. Consult your sales team for any outside-of-the-box solutions you may not have previously considered. Keep information available on products not included in your original pitch during your meeting in case a new problem arises. Impress your client with your preparedness and he or she will trust your solution is the best fit for the problem.


Create a Custom Bundle

If you have a product with a broad range of uses, create several different selling solution models that cover each type of customer. For example, we’ll take the classic vacuum cleaner salesperson. You have a couple different models of vacuums to sell, but a large client base that needs to clean:

  • A business interested in purchasing cleaning supplies. To market vacuums to a large business, you would include the larger models that clean more floor space and have industrial strength suction for dirt tracked in by customers. Your presentation could address how the larger model can clean more square footage in a shorter amount of time, equaling money saved in the long run by paying the employees less time to clean up at the end of the day. Depending on the size of the business, you can suggest different package deals for the number of tools the company will need to clean their space. There may also be tools for everyday cleanings and tools for less-frequent deep-cleans.
  • For a family looking to clean their home. The pitch to the family would include information on ease of storage with a smaller unit and extra tools for detailing furniture, corners, and more. You should have information available on a second hand-held model for smaller spills, offering a package deal for families interested in purchasing both models.
  • For someone living alone in a small house. You would market the smallest model possible and emphasize how it can clean small spaces with a lot of power. Emphasize ease of use, lightweight features, and suction power. Show why purchasing a high-end model for such a small space will save money in the long run because the client will not have to replace parts frequently or hire a cleaning service.

You are still selling the same products from the same company, but you are creating a bundle for your customer base that speaks to their individual problems. If your buyer believes you truly have their best interest at heart, they will be more likely to do business with you now and again in the future.


How to Develop a Solution Selling Pitch

How do you decide which products to offer your client? A little research before your meeting goes a long way. Here is a list of things to consider when creating the solution selling pitch for your next client:

  • Identify your buyer’s common problems. What exactly is the problem they are looking to solve?
  • Think about what won over your past buyers and made them decide to purchase the product. Take notes from your previous buying process and use them in your pitch.
  • Develop open-ended questions to ask your prospective customers at the beginning of the presentation. This will focus your recommendations on their actual needs and open up the conversation.
  • Be sure to show off the product’s value and how your customer can’t live without it. If you prove how much easier the product will make life for your client, he or she will be more likely to pay whatever the price.
  • Show how much money the product will save in the long run. It may be a large price tag right this minute, but if the product has a guarantee to last, or can help to accrue savings over time, buyers are more likely to consider purchasing it.

All these points together will paint a picture to your potential customer of why he or she should purchase your product. Be sure to ask open-ended questions as often as possible, and really listen to the answers.


Impact on Your Sales Career

Showing someone why they need your particular product is a great way to convince them to purchase, which will increase your sales. A well-constructed solution selling pitch factors in the client’s needs, which strengthens the relationship between salesperson and client. When your client feels you are taking care of their needs, they will be more likely to return to you in the future for the solution to their problem. Don’t just sell them the product, but check in with them after they purchase it to see how it is working for their problem. Offer any additional guidance needed to cement the relationship, and enjoy the trust that begins to develop. Positive salesperson-client relationships lead to positive business results, which helps keep your career on track.


Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement. When someone needs a solution to a problem, they ask a friend. When that friend remembers this great salesperson who helped them solve their own problem they will be likely to recommend that salesperson to their friends and family. Your business will grow and flourish as word gets out that you have the perfect solution to the problem. Cultivating relationships will take you everywhere in the sales world.

Interested in taking your business to the next level? Consider investing in your future with sales training. SNI offers a comprehensive training about Influence & Authority, and how you can use it to your advantage while in the sales world today.


How is Negotiating Skills Training Relevant to Your Sales Career?

Jeff Cochran


Advanced negotiation skills are essential when working in a sales environment The tension can sometimes rise in situations in which parties feel they are not being heard, or they are not getting the best deal. In 2018, good communication skills are sometimes forgotten due to connections via technology. Sometimes it is important to get back to basics and revisit your negotiation skills.


Everyone Needs Negotiation Skills

The world of sales is not just black and white. Being able to negotiate with different parties will produce a better outcome when offering a pitch. Advanced negotiation skills mean you have more to offer a client in terms of empathy and understanding. Negotiation skills benefit all parties during a discussion and can sometimes help to defuse any tension. A discussion without tension feels much more relaxed for everyone and usually produces a better end result. Of course, there is a huge difference between feeling relaxed and being a pushover during the negotiation process. Be ready to stand your ground when the need arises, and to know the difference between backing down and giving up.


Close the Deal with a Win-Win

A good negotiator knows both parties need to feel as though they have won at the end of a sales agreement. You are more likely to gain a repeat customer if your client feels he or she walked away with a good deal. Being aggressive while closing a deal might get you what you want, but it can really hurt a future relationship with a client. Taking a small loss during the negotiation might actually lead to a bigger win later. A win-win situation comes with advanced negotiation skills and patience.


Give Profit Margins a Boost

By negotiating your contracts, you may find the extra profit margins end up right in your pocket. Drug companies will go to great lengths to make sure the largest margin of profit stays in their pockets. These companies often reward sales reps with advanced negotiation skills by padding their paychecks. Other industries do the same. Obtaining savings for your company is the mark of an advanced sales representative and requires training in negotiation. Paying for negotiation training now could mean a bigger return on your investment in the future.


Build Confidence

There is nothing more intimidating than heading into a high-pressure business meeting. The anticipation may weigh you down, but if you have negotiation skills to lean on, you can feel confident you will be ready to handle whatever comes your way. Training to develop your advanced negotiation skills focuses on how to view the situation from all sides. Instead of just throwing out a sales pitch, learn to listen to your client and apply what he or she is telling you about the presentation. Answer their questions and be ready with facts to back up your side of the story. You will feel more confident inside, and you will look more confident and give a more polished presentation. We like to say – Nothing convinces like conviction.


Work to Gain Mutual Respect

Listen to your clients, because you will learn things about their businesses that can help you to respect their positions. Tailor your presentation to the products that would help their particular situation. You will gain the respect of your clients by not wasting their time pitching something they have no interest in purchasing. When your client respects you, and you respect their business, you gain a mutual understanding. Be sure to make notes immediately upon leaving your presentation so the next time you visit you will not have to start from square one. Review your notes for each client before attending your next meeting with them to continue the feeling of respect. Customers appreciate a personalized sales experience and will continue coming back if they feel you gave them what they were want.

To brush up on your advanced negotiation skills, sign up for our next negotiation training. SNI has more than 20 years of negotiation experience and more than 250,000 participants. Expect to see an immediate positive impact for your business.

How to Succeed in Pharmaceutical Sales

Jeff Cochran


The world of pharmaceutical sales is competitive. There are numerous sales representatives who would love to have the same job and a great sales career. How can you be sure you have what it takes to get the job? Let’s take a look at some of the top skills recruiters want to see in a candidate.


Good People Skills

You need to have good people skills when going out to market a product. Get to know your client before you step foot in the door in order to have a leg up. Do they like a friendly, personal tone? Or are they strictly business? Good sales reps do their homework.

Active listening is an important part of having good people skills. Don’t just talk at your client and pitch the sale. Be sure to take a step back and listen to what potential clients are saying: They just might be giving you the clues you need to close the sale. With a bit of sales experience, you’ll learn how to listen and use what you hear to create an end game.

Sharp problem-solving skills are also key to a good sales presentation. You may be ready to pitch your product in one way, but being flexible allows you to adjust to your client’s needs as you go. By listening to what your client is saying and using your knowledge of your field, you can adjust the pitch and work together on a solution that fits everyone’s needs.


Strong Product Knowledge

The pharmaceutical industry is constantly changing. Technology and science are rapidly evolving, and it is important to stay on the top of these updates. You must demonstrate a strong knowledge of the product you are selling in order to answer questions and show the product in a positive light. No one will take you seriously at the entry level if you don’t sound knowledgeable in your field. Check this list for some ways to read the latest news in your field:

  • Have a list of reputable websites bookmarked for easy reading.
  • Subscribe to magazines with the latest information in your field.
  • Follow relevant drug companies and professionals on social media for updates.
  • Find podcasts that discuss relevant information.
  • Know the FDA guidelines and regulations.
  • Sign up for sales training courses to help you become a better sales representative.

Consider investing in a tablet for on-the-go reading opportunities. Magazines are now delivered digitally, and your bookmarks are available on any device. Grab your tablet when you have time to read and you’ll be ready for any upcoming meeting.


Comfortable with Public Speaking

Pitching a new drug usually requires a presentation. People considering pharmaceutical sales, even at an entry level, will need to be comfortable speaking in a public setting. Whether it be one-on-one with a doctor, or to a purchasing committee, clear articulation is important, especially when using industry jargon. Prepping your pitch before you get to your presentation will help you to stay calm and focus on the information. Be sure to know the proper pronunciation of drug names to avoid looking foolish. It doesn’t take much to accidentally convince someone you are clueless.

If you have prepared a PowerPoint presentation to accompany your pitch, be sure everything is ready to go before your meeting. There is nothing more embarrassing than making a client watch you fumble with your device to get it working. Arrive at the location a few minutes early and ask the receptionist for help getting connected to the Wi-Fi network. If you hit the ground running, your presentation will make an even bigger impression.


Manage Your Own Time

You need to be your own project manager as a pharmaceutical rep. Figuring out how to manage your time can be tricky, so it’s important to have good time-management skills:

  • Set goals. Make your goals manageable so you can be sure to meet them step by step. Don’t forget to set both short-term and long-term goals for yourself.
  • Plan ahead. Use a planner to record deadlines. Having it written down in one place you can refer to as needed is helpful for getting things done on time.
  • Put tasks in order of importance on your to-do list. Do highest the priority tasks first and early in the day while your concentration level is at its peak.
  • Know your strengths. No two people work in the same way, so know yourself and how you are the most productive.
  • Self-motivation. One of the hardest things about managing your own time is motivation to reach your goals. Work out a system of rewards for when you reach your goals. Reward yourself with something small, like your favorite drink or a brain break for small goals, and a larger reward like a weekend shopping trip or dinner at a favorite restaurant for meeting larger goals. Having something to look forward to will make reaching your goals a lot more fun.


Industry-Specific Skills

It pays to know what you are talking about. Brush up on your industry-specific skills and language. If you are working with a drug for a certain illness, know about the other treatment options why this one will help patients in a different way. Having the knowledge to back up the information will be the key to landing the deal over someone else who didn’t do his or her homework.


Be Ready to Travel Anytime

The more you are willing to travel as a sales representative, the more jobs you will land. Leaving room for as much travel as possible in your schedule will expand your client base. Traveling may seem tedious, but it actually gives you a chance to catch up on your reading or listening to podcasts. Bring your tablet on the plane and make a plan of action for your meeting. This will keep everything fresh for when you arrive. If you are driving, download a podcast or two to play on your drive. Travel time is a great opportunity to absorb new information.


Get Your CNPR Training

One of the best ways to stand out as a sales representative is by having your CNPR Pharmaceutical Training Program certificate. This certifies you have the proper training to have a pharmaceutical sales career. Employers are going to check your industry knowledge during the application process, so being able to show you passed the industry standard test means you’ll have a leg up on other candidates. The course is self-paced, and students must pass a 160-question exam in 120 minutes.

Want to give yourself the boost to stand out at your next interview? SNI offers a variety of trainings to take your sales career to the next level. Our Influence and Persuasion training will help you to make your pitch and explain why your product is the one the doctor should be prescribing.

Keynote Speech Examples: Learn from the Best

Jeff Cochran


One of the most effective ways of improving your public speaking and presenting is doing research and analyzing other great speakers. There are numerous types of keynote speeches and various aspects that determine whether the speech impacts every person or falls flat and becomes irrelevant. The experts at Shapiro Negotiations have delivered many speeches – most of which have had a lasting impact on the audience – and understand what components make a great speech.


Shapiro’s General Outline of Great Speeches

All speeches are different, and there are many ways to craft and deliver an effective speech. However, as one of Shapiro Negotiations’ leaders, Jeff Cochran, describes at SAMA in 2017, there is a formula that often leads to a great speech.

The first step is building credibility, so your audience likes and trusts you. If you come off as impersonal or apathetic, they are less likely to feel connected to your message.

The second objective is to engage emotions. The bottom line of all human interactions, including business exchanges, is emotion. People often make decisions and judgments based on emotion. If you can use emotion in your speech, your audience is likely to feel connected to and empathetic about your message.

Third, you need to demonstrate logic. In business, logic is the second aspect people use most when making decisions. Follow up your emotional argument with logic to convince the room.

Finally, you must facilitate action. Make people feel motivated to act on your message. You want to end your speech having given them the desire to act.


Steve Jobs: Stanford Commencement Address 2005

Steve Jobs’ commencement address at Stanford in 2005 is renowned as one of the best speeches in recent years. He begins his speech with a joke, which gets the audience laughing and feeling comfortable with him. Jobs continued to tell three anecdotes from his life; these served as the emotional aspect. The first was about his experience as a young boy and teenager; the second addressed his young adult life and struggles with Apple; and the third talked about his experience with pancreatic cancer and the role of death.

Amongst all these stories, Jobs layered moments of humor and seriousness together. He came off as vulnerable, making an extremely accomplished, successful man seem human and relatable to the audience.

Jobs finished his speech by summarizing the lessons he learned from his experiences and, thus, what the audience should take away. He encouraged the listeners to act, finishing the speech with the mantra, “stay hungry, stay foolish.”


Mel Robbins: TEDx San Francisco 2011

Mel Robbins is a criminal lawyer, career and relationship expert, and speaker. She gave a speech in 2011 called “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over.” She began with some jokes, even engaging the audience by asking them how they were doing.

One of her clear strengths is her passion. She speaks with endless enthusiasm and confidence, immediately establishing herself as a trustworthy source. Her speaking style is assertive but casual, making her more personable. She talks candidly to her audience about relatable issues and situations. By bringing up circumstances many relate to, she engages listeners and increases the relevance of her point.

During the first half of her speech, she left the stage, physically putting herself on the same level as her audience. She even picked out a member of the audience and personally addressed him. Throughout her speech she showed pictures of her children in casual situations – which many parents in the audience can relate to.

Throughout her speech, she continuously reinforced the idea that you must force yourself to do things. She suggested something for the audience to try as a first step into forcing themselves to be productive and succeed.

Mel Robbins is an effective speaker for many reasons, but the two main ones are her enthusiasm and relatability. She does not focus on using academic, professional language; she instead appeals personally to the audience members. As a result, she comes off as a strong, confident, credible, and trustworthy person.

At Shapiro Negotiations, we understand the traits that make speakers like Steve Jobs and Mel Robbins effective. We help people learn how to appeal to many different audiences and drive home ideas in their speeches.

3 Ways to Hone Your Presenting Skills

Jeff Cochran


The ability to give a great presentation does not come without hard work. Though some people may have innate skills and traits that make presenting easier, honing those skills takes effort. The experts at Shapiro Negotiations understand the potential impact of a fantastic presentation and have a proven strategy for teaching professionals how to perfect their presenting abilities.


1. Do Research and Find Examples of Great Presenters

One of the things you should do when trying to improve your presenting skills is to do research about other great presenters. Watch speeches online and take notes about how they present. If you have the ability, go see a great presenter in action, paying attention to how the audience reacts to certain things and what makes their presentation successful or unsuccessful.

One of the best online resources for watching presentations is TED Talks. You can also look for presidential or political speeches, as politicians often deliver impactful speeches. Watch as many as you need to understand what it takes to give an interesting, engaging presentation. By having an idea of what worked in their presentations and speeches, you will have new things to try in your own presentations.


2. Find a Way to Be Enthusiastic

All great presenters show enthusiasm. An uninterested, bored presenter will quickly lose the attention and interest of their audience. Unfortunately, it is common for people to have to do business presentations about things that don’t interest them. Few people in the business world can always present about something they find fascinating. You need to find a way to be enthusiastic about a topic you are not passionate about, as your enthusiasm level could be the factor that determines how effective your presentation is.

One way to incite enthusiasm is to think about the audience. Expand your focus to include the impact your presentation is having on the people listening. Consider how your presentation will improve their business or lives. It will be easier to be excited about your topic if you feel like you are making an impact on those listening.


3. Ask for Feedback

One of the best ways to improve any skill is by asking for feedback. You may finish a presentation with an idea about how it went, but another person can offer a different viewpoint that may provide valuable information about how you can improve your technique. When analyzing yourself, you are more likely to have a skewed opinion, either overly positive or overly negative. You also have no way of knowing how your presentation impacted the audience. Someone in the audience can tell you how effective you were and what impression you gave to your listeners.

There are many ways you can get feedback from audiences. In certain situations, you will receive feedback from leaders without needing to ask for it. For situations where feedback is not automatic, choose someone who will have an objective opinion and can deliver blunt information, and ask them what they thought after the presentation. Listen intently to any feedback you receive so you can adjust your style and become as effective as possible.

Shapiro Negotiations has numerous professionals who have experience giving and critiquing presentations. We can spot people’s strengths and weaknesses with presenting and know how to best remedy the latter. Our presenting skills workshops have helped many people in business hone their presentation skills and become effective presenters.