When you’re in business, you are in the business of providing solutions. Think about it, everything we do, everything we sell, products, services, treatments, all of these are solutions to problems, filling needs that our customers have.
Restaurants feed hungry people. Hardware stores provide solutions to problems whether you are building a house or fixing a leaky faucet. Doctors and hospitals provide treatment and cures for sick people. Undertakers provide funeral services. You get it, whatever your business, you are providing solutions to problems that people, call them customers, have. In fact, all businesses were started because someone saw a need, and decided to fulfil that need, which in the end is the very definition of a business.
We are all of us solution providers…Solution Meisters!
In our particular market segment, we provide electronic technology solutions, whether that be PCB design, Fabrication, Assembly or we are a company that supplies these companies with the products and equipment they need.
Those of us in sales are supposed to be selling the best solutions for our customer’s problems. If we are selling bare boards, then it is our job to sell the best PCB solutions on the market today. The same with PCB assembly, and PCB design. That’s pretty obvious isn’t it?
But, what if one of our customer’s needs something other than what we are selling? What if they, for example, need a rigid flex PCB, and we only sell rigid PCBs? What are we supposed to do then…send them to a competitor?
Yes, that is exactly what you are supposed to do. Because the best salespeople, the great salespeople, are solution meisters first, and foremost. A great salesperson will service her customer, and provide that customer with a solution, whatever that is; and most importantly do whatever it takes to provide that customer a solution to his problem.
If this sounds counterintuitive to you, then you’d better rethink your role as a salesperson.
Besides providing solutions, a true salesperson has to gain his customers’ trust, and loyalty. He has to ingrain himself into his customer’s circle of trust before he can count on that customer’s loyalty for life. And in the end, that is what sales is all about.
Are you dedicated to your customers enough to provide them with a good and honest solution? Even to the point where it could hurt you in the short term? If you are then you are truly a Solutions Meister and you will have the privilege of earning that customer’s trust, and loyalty. And this trust and loyalty will extend beyond the very company he is working for today and to any company he might end up working for in the future.
Here are some examples of being a true Solutions Meister:
- Your customer needs a problem solved, it has nothing to do directly with you, or what you provide. It could even be non-business, like a home repair problem. Help him to solve the problem, do some research for him. If you find a solution for him, that will be fantastic, but even if you don’t. the very act of trying to help him, will go a long way to developing his trust towards you and that will certainly pay off in the future.
- Your customer needs a special technology version of the product that you sell. But you cannot provide that particular technology through your own company. It doesn’t matter, a true Solutions Meister will dedicate herself to finding her customer, that right technology solution. Of course, she will do her homework to make sure that she provides the right company, with the right solution, and not one that could hurt her own business with that customer in the long run. She might be dedicated to providing a trusting relationship, but she’s not an idiot. In fact, if she’s smart she’ll find the right company that provides that technology, and develop a good working partnership with that company where they recommend one another in cases similar to the one they are trying to help.
- What about when the customer is looking for, and really needs a solution, that is better and more economical than the one, you’re providing? Wow this is a tough one! This is the toughest of all.
On a personal note I was once faced with this dilemma. I was working with a company, actually several companies who needed High Tech PCBs made out of LMR Kevlar a very expensive, very hard to process CTE management material. We were one of the few PCB shops in the country maybe the world, who could successfully process the boards with this material. But we were also the only shop in the country that had helped developed Thermount a chopped Kevlar material that was much less expensive and much easier to process. Thermount was a much better and less expensive solution for our customers…and here was the tough part. It was so much easier to use that just about any of our competitors would be able to produce boards with it. This of course would increase the field of viable competitors. But in the end, we did the right thing. We told our customers about Thermount. Yes, they did spec it in, and they did indeed invite other shops to bid on the boards and in the end, we did lose some of that business. But in the long run, they considered us their Solutions Meisters, and we did develop a bond of trust and loyalty with them and they did become a customer for life.
We took our role as solutions providers seriously and though it hurt us in the short term, it made us a better, and more viable vendor partner, in the end. Which is what a good, and trusted solutions providing vendor partner should strive for. It’s only common sense.