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9 Steps for Marketing and Sales to Solve Problems. Together.

Vicki O'Neill Solution Selling Process

Your target audience doesn't care about your business. They don't care about your marketing plan or what you tell them you do.

What they care about is solving a problem or an anticipated problem that THEY are having or are anticipating to have.

They are seeking a solution but not necessarily your solution. And with the plethora of options, how can you be sure they will consider you?

You can't be sure of anything but death and taxes, right? BUT you can take steps necessary toward providing information upfront wherever they are spending time so they see your name, your brand and your solution. Begin with the end in mind and work backwards to create the customer journey.

By creating questions, keyword terms and process of how your target audience might take the path to choosing you, you are more likely to be chosen if the information and answers they seek are there when they need them.

This is WHY it's critical to know 1) who your target audience is and 2) where they spend time online. The "what" or solution will drive your questions, keyword terms and process (path to discovering you) and how is going to differ making the "which one" stand out making the choice easier for them.

There are many conversations, blog posts, Instagram conversations, quotes, Facebook groups, etc. that help brands identify how to differentiate. BUT, there's limited information on how to differentiate by aligning (not combining) your Sales "Solution" conversation with your Marketing "Solution" message.

You may need to be a little uncomfortable if you continue reading. This includes bridging the gap with the content and delivery across all platforms where your brand is represented.

Below are the 9 steps to problem solving for marketing and sales teams:

  1. Ask questions: This is how you uncover the actual problem and be better prepared to provide the right solution options. Here are a few possible questions to begin the conversation: "What has led you to believe there is a problem?" "What obstacles reoccur and are keeping your team from progressing?" "How have your quarterly sales results been over the last 12 months?"

  2. Identify the problem: The answers to your questions will help uncover what the REAL problem is and may not be what they expected. For example, it could be lack of particular content vs updating existing content with new data.

  3. Conduct research. Research online how your target customers are spending time online. And where. What type of activity are they actively pursuing? Brainstorm ideas on how you can become part of that interaction process.

  4. Confirm the root cause. Once the research and potential problems have been identified, together as a team, identify what the REAL root problem is. And get agreement from both teams that this is the root problem. Don't assume both teams are on board! Gain agreement!

  5. Identify potential solutions. With the REAL root problem identified, brainstorm ideas on what potential solutions can be. Go beyond your current teams, technology, data, solutions. Ask these questions: If money is not a consideration in finding a solution, what would it be? Taking all headcount, company policies and existing content out of the mix, what would the IDEAL solution look like?

  6. Select best solution. With all the possible solutions outlined, select those that are realistic with cost, headcount, timing, etc. Then have each decision maker vote on which one is best and/or put in priority order if there are more than one best solution. An idea is to give each person 3 different "votes" and each person can put 1, 2 or all 3 votes on each solution. The solution with the most votes wins (or is the first solution considered).

  7. Develop the implementation plan. Outline a detailed implementation and include action item, person accountable, measurements and timelines for deadlines. REMINDER to include time frames for communicating progress to the stakeholders!

  8. Implementation test. Before rolling out to the masses, test the plan to see if it works. Ask for a few volunteers or those who have been leading the solution and test your solution before making it "live" or active for all to use.

  9. Review/modify then implement. The test will indicate what's working and what's not. Make the appropriate changes, if any, then move forward to implement the plan to the masses. Be sure to communicate progress, status updates and milestone updates to the leadership team and stakeholders.

As you can imagine, this process can be very time consuming and varies by company and situation. If you're interested in working together through this process, send me a message and let's have a conversation.


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