Updated: Jan 30, 2020
Innovative solutions are, by definition, using either completely new concepts or finding new ways of using existing concepts and tech to solve a particular business problem. As such, we can run into a lot of trouble when trying to sell these solutions to potential buyers. What are the things which complicate this process?
There are several factors that make the selling of innovative solutions challenging. One of them is the gap in knowledge and lack of understanding between buyer and seller; another is an unwillingness to change and innovate which stifles the process for most businesses; yet another is a lack of trust in the modern sales landscape. All of these must be overcome in one way or another if there is to be a successful sale of this type.
This article will discuss all three of these main factors in detail. It will aim to diagnose its causes and effects while offering potential solutions. Towards the end there will be an explanation as to how we at PGN Global can help you traverse these inevitable hardships in the world of B2B innovative solution sales.
Without further ado, let us get started.
Lack of understanding and communication between buyer and seller
The programmer, engineer, or designer is excellent when it comes to designing an innovative tech solution and making sure that everything is running how it should. When it comes to selling them, however, their knowledge and expertise can often present itself as a hindrance rather than an advantage.
The reality is simply that the knowledge somebody who designed a tech solution far outclasses (in most cases) any business owner's knowledge about that product and field. This would not ordinarily be a problem if the creators of innovative solutions did not often decide to become the sellers of those same solutions. They simply lack the communication skills necessary to bridge that gap in knowledge.
The maker of an innovative tech solution may have all the info about the hows and details of how their product works, but that is worth next to nothing when it comes to actually selling that product. What a sales prospect cares about is not how something works or the intricacies of its design, but rather about how that something can influence their business.
There is an unwillingness on the part of the seller to familiarize themselves with the position of their potential buyer, and this creates a breeding ground for misunderstandings and lost potential. After all, no matter how amazing an innovative solution might be in reality, if it is not bought and successfully implemented it might as well not have been made at all.
It is often difficult for these amateur sellers to accept that the passion they have for their product is often simply not enough. This makes them resistant to the idea that they should ask someone with expertise in sales to sell their product for them.
Solution selling is an art and it does not involve explaining how any given solution works, but rather focuses on the business challenge. Competent solution sellers explain how an innovative solution works, and how it impacts the business they are selling to. All the technical details come into play later, and those can be handled by experts for those things anyway. The important step is this initial effort to make the solution accessible and understandable. Without it, the sale has little chance of happening.
This kind of approach requires a lot of business knowledge which solution designers simply do not possess a lot of the time, and it is this disconnect that often dooms a potential deal before it ever gets a chance to take off. It is, thus, of key importance to have people who are skilled solution sellers selling your solutions, or at the very least educating yourself and investing in training that will make you one of them.
Companies find it difficult to innovate
The perfect customer is one who is open to new things. The ideas they have about themselves and their business are flexible and they do not cling too dearly on to outdated methods and concepts.
Unfortunately, this is not how the minds of most business owners work. In fact, reality tends to be quite the opposite. Instead of adapting to innovative solutions that could very well improve businesses, most CEOs and company representatives exert a large amount of caution when it comes to investing in innovative solutions.
This is nothing new, and the attitude is understandable given the amount of risk which can often be involved in these kinds of transactions. At the same time, however, this risk if often felt more than rationally explained, and in the end what you get is a mishmash of factors which, although not necessarily accurate, greatly increase the difficulty of performing a successful solution sale.
This distrust towards change is not only expressed towards those innovations coming from the outside, but also towards a company's own employees. Oftentimes what will happen is that a company's higher-ups will disregard a suggestion for innovation from an employee or team and those same employees will later go on to found their own companies using the same ideas.
Another issue that complicates the entire process is that companies are very often heavily compartmentalized, with different departments in charge of different aspects of a business. Communication between them is not always the smoothest and even when it is it can be a nightmare to get all of them to agree on something and make a uniform decision.
Luckily, however, modern companies are more and more realizing this and providing opportunities for their members to come up with and share ideas. These brainstorming sessions are called various names (idea-hacking sessions, hackathons, or inno-camps) and they have shown some promise, but they still often leave a lot to be desired as the issue of implementation is still a valid concern.
In the end, many businesses resort to implementing innovative solutions the expensive way, which consists of buying an entire company that has successfully implemented a particular innovative solution. The prices of these purchases are often steep as the companies being bought were usually the buyer company's competitor in some way, shape, or form (often one of the aforementioned potential innovators who broke off), and can therefore demand a hefty sum.
Although this way of going about it is definitely quite elaborate and not very cost-effective, it circumvents having to care about risk factors and provides businesses with an easy, ready-made solution package.
The reason for this comes back to improper communication. To convince companies to change and set that whole wheel in motion, a careful and delicate approach is necessary which informs them not only about the solution but about how to implement it and how it might affect the business. This will help ease some of the anxiety of risk-averse owners and provide a healthier and more transparent context for everyone to work in.
The modern sales environment breeds a lack of trust
Selling requires human interaction, or at least it used to. Well, saying this is a little misleading. It still requires human interaction, but fewer and fewer of those interactions end up being face-to-face (F2F) interactions nowadays.
This is because the way we gather information about potential purchases has changed dramatically in the last decade. We no longer need to drive down to a store and listen to a salesperson try and badger us into purchasing a product. Today a customer can simply open up an internet browser and look up the product they're interested in online and see all the necessary information.
Then they can presumably decide whether or not they want to buy it.
This sort of approach, however, is problematic because very few potential buyers of products know what they actually want. At best, they have a vague idea that needs to be further honed by a competent salesperson. This competence is not reflected in one's ability to manipulate someone into a purchase but rather in the ability to guide them through the sales process as not everyone can navigate it naturally.
This lack of F2F communication breeds a lack of trust, which is not that problematic in places where not a lot of trust needs to be built up. For example, if we are buying razors from Gilette, we do not need a guarantee of their quality.
Innovative solutions, however, by their very nature, are not well-known. They are brand new additions to the market and usually involve quite a bit of tampering with a company's structure. They often require a large commitment on behalf of the buyer, and it is thus of crucial importance that they be adequately sold.
This kind of trust cannot be established if prospects are getting their info about products from websites. The thing that websites excel in is providing information. They are so good at this, in fact, that quite often potential buyers will find themselves overwhelmed with information.
This overload is not a good thing, and can often lead to someone completely abandoning a potential purchase before it even had a chance to become a plausibility.
This is why buyers require a seller to work as an advisor who will assist them in making their purchase. It is this consultative approach which is key in modern B2B innovative solution selling.
Buyers are not looking for information. They can get plenty of that from the internet. What they are looking for is someone to sort out all of that information and help them make their decision on buying a product. Without that, selling in the modern world becomes next to impossible.
All three of these reasons can be boiled down to one main culprit: lack of connection. This is why experts who design innovative solutions do not understand that they need a skilled salesperson to sell them. It is why sellers are not fully aware of a company's internal structure and how to navigate it. And, finally, it is why sellers do not make bigger strides to ensure there is more F2F communication between them and the potential buyers.
The solution to all three, therefore, would be a good way to ensure a connection between skilled sales consultants, business owners, and creators. Luckily, there is just such a thing.
Produs™ Global Growth Network (PGN Global) is a disruptive platform-based business model where experienced consultants support innovative small and medium-sized enterprises. SMEs' offerings in the PGN are competitive, high quality & high added-value, minimizing risk and wasting no time. We focus on connecting innovative technology with potential business buyers.
We offer a wide range of help to a large variety of clients. If you are someone looking to sell their innovative tech solution(s), then we have got you covered. If you are an experienced consultant and are looking for a way to monetize your network of contacts, then also be sure to contact us. Finally, if you are a CEO looking to innovate your business with tech solutions, look no further and know that we can definitely help.
Innovative solution selling is a tricky process because there are many roadblocks that can arise on the path to a successful deal.
The three main ones would be the lack of understanding between buyer and seller, the unwillingness to change and innovate which stifles the process for most businesses, and a lack of trust in the modern sales landscape.
Luckily, there are ways to tackle these issues and surmount them. All of them can be boiled down to one major problem which is essentially a lack of connection. This connection must be established if the different elements of the sales process (including the seller and buyer) are to work together smoothly and result in a successful sale.
That is where we at the PGN come in. We ensure that the proper connections are established between creators, consultants, and customers, and provide opportunities for innovative tech solutions to be solved successfully. That said, if you happen to fall into any of these three groups and would like to work with us, do not hesitate to get in touch.