Solution Selling dates back to 1975 when Frank Watts 1st used this term while working for Wang Laboratories. Mike Bosworth launched his Solution Selling training organization in 1983 and SPIN Selling was first published by Neil Rackham in 1988.
What all these groundbreaking methodologies have in common is they focus on understanding the needs of the prospect prior to presenting our product or service.
Sadly, after more than 40 years, Solution Selling still fails to address its fatal flaw:
Nobody likes to think deeply about their problems nor share them with a stranger.
Why Discovery Fails
Early in the Discovery process, direct inquiry (“Tell me about you”) has limited success and lacks depth for two reasons.
- First: not enough intimacy and trust has been established in your relationship so the prospect will likely be guarded.
- Second: most people are not in a continuous state of self-awareness (i.e. They don’t spend all day thinking about themselves, what they want in life, etc.)
Similarly, the concept of probing for pain or gain is misguided. Unless the prospect is experiencing acute and present pain, it is difficult for them to identify and communicate what is wrong. Much like love, pain is the result of what is happening and not actually something in and of itself.
Getting to the Truth
In Discovery, there is no such thing as truth.
Instead, you can gather multiple perspectives (aka. Opinions.)
What we “know” or “believe” is relative to the system or Construct we inhabit. Rather than seeking the truth, the objective of your initial (first) Discovery should be to establish a Context for every interaction that follows
As such, seeking information directly about the participants yields very little real insight.
Instead, we should seek to understand the Interface points between participants and the system they inhabit.
Interfaces represent everything that occurs between any participants (interactions, dependencies, agreements, expectations, etc.) across any medium (phone, digital, in person, unspoken, informal, etc.)
Triangulation is the process of acquiring the same data (asking the same question) from multiple vantage points. Most people don’t realize that GPS navigation requires multiple satellite signals to get a precise location of the user. Similarly, asking you about what your boss measures you on and then asking your boss the same question will likely yield different answers. When combined however, these answers yield a far more accurate view of reality.
Discovery questions can seek to gather information (what ‘Is’) or insight (the ‘Why’ or ‘How’) or impact (the ‘Where’ or ‘So What?’)
Asking information questions from anyone in the system will provide multiple viewpoints on “what is.”
Insight and Impact questions are specific to Interface Points and only provide value when asked of individuals with specific and tangible motivation associated with that Interface point.