9 Ways Solution Selling is Like Solving a Crossword Puzzle

February 24, 2015
9 Ways Solution Selling is Like Solving a Crossword Puzzle

Do you ever wonder if there is a new approach to teaching your sellers some great solution selling skills that add value to prospective customers?

Well, here are 9 that I recently learned.

  1. Put the pieces together.
  2. Fill in the blanks.
  3. Operate with confidence.
  4. Retrieve information.
  5. Figure out the style.
  6. Finish what you started.
  7. Be curious.
  8. Constantly learn.
  9. Surround yourself with learners.

A good friend of mine told me how much she loves solving crossword puzzles. She also happens to be the top producing salesperson in her division at Toshiba. She let me into a little secret – how much her puzzle solving approach helps her close more deals.

Put the pieces together.

She works on the clues at face value. Similarly, she listens to her clients and prospects about what they tell her they need.

Fill in the blanks.

Like most puzzles, you have to think outside the obvious. Sometimes the clues are a red herring and there could be more than one answer. In conversation with her clients, she’s always listening for what they’re NOT saying, so she can bring valuable ideas that they might not have thought of.

Operate with confidence.

This was my favorite. She laughed at the looks she once got from someone on the train one morning when completing the Times crossword puzzle. Finally the lady sitting across from her said how impressed she was at my friend doing the puzzle using a pen. “I always use a pen. It boosts my confidence to know that I am solving this puzzle in one shot!” Her clients often say how pleased they are with the end result because she accurately specifies their requirements and expectations to the Toshiba delivery organization on the first go around.

Retrieve information.

As smart as you are and as confident as you are, you still have to have deep knowledge about the subject. Enough said. You don’t need me to tell you how important this is in sales.

Figure out the style.

My friend shares a strong admiration with former President Bill Clinton, an avid crossword puzzler, for Will Shortz, who writes or edits the New York Times crossword puzzles. She’s also learned his style. Once she cracks the theme or the style of one of Shortz’s puzzle, it becomes a piece of cake to complete. She’s always focused on her client’s style for communication, e.g. are they bottom-line driven or do they prefer detail in a presentation because they are super analytical. As she often points out, she’s in a person-to-person business.

Finish what you started.

She’s driven to complete her projects on time and on budget. Rarely, if ever will she leave a puzzle unfinished. It’s a point of pride for her.

Be curious.

She’s never happier than when something surprises her in business and in her personal life. Occasionally she will discover something really interesting about someone else or about herself. She believes this happens because she is naturally inquisitive. “You’ll have fun with a person or a situation when you least expect it – but mostly because you are open to it,” she says.

Constantly learn.

This is another top trait for me. It resonated so much when she said it – it happens to be one of my company’s core values: constantly learning. I have to believe that a salesperson is only able to remain at the top of their game if they continue to learn. My friend says that you have to constantly evolve your skills because the puzzles continue to get more challenging.

Surround yourself with learners.

She loves to talk puzzles with anyone who has the same passion. The same is true at the office. She is happy to share her best practices, because as she gives them away, she creates room to learn more.

So there you have it! You can imagine my surprise (and joy) in learning a new way to look at solution selling skills development. I hope that this helps you too!

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