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Input vs Output – What Do You Do in Sales?

By Alex Low | @Alexander_Low

I was reminded recently about an old sales adage that still rings true – Does Black & Decker sell drills or holes? 

You start with the problem. You need to make a hole in the wall to hang a picture, so now you need to find a solution. You need to understand what type of wall you want to make a hole in. This will dictate what type of drill bit and size of drill bit you need.

You then need a chuck to tighten the drill bit. You then need the right type of drill for the drill bit: RPM, does it need to have a hammer action if it is hard stone, different gearing, reverse action and so on. Back in the day it was a simple hand cranked drill and a drill bit. Still solving the problem of making a hole, just less choice. 

Are you selling or solving?

The chances are that if you go onto any website that sells drills there will be questions to help you understand what is the right solution for you. So, whilst it is a “self-guided” buying, you are, in fact, being guided by the right questioning. (We are entering the realms of chat bot technology, but that is for another blog).

So why is this relevant to you? Ask yourself this, are you selling drills? Or the overall solution to drilling a hole. I hope you see yourself as doing the latter as this is solution led rather than feature led. The point is this: how are you helping your customers and targets on their self-guided journey, by guiding them with the right validating questions.

This can be achieved by publishing content such as blogs, videos, and infographics and of course face-to-face conversations. Most importantly you need to engage with your clients at all times – especially as the latest Challenger research from Gartner CEB shows:

Does your LinkedIn profile or your digital brand project a persona or brand that solves problems or does it sell products? Or is it just all about you?

Guide, share, support. Just don’t ‘sell’

As a sales person, you need to work with marketing to help them understand that you are not selling drills but a solution that makes a hole. And based on your experience of selling your solution successfully, many times over, supported by continual client feedback, this is how we will guide customers to our solution by reminding them that this is the right one for them. 

Make it as easy as possible for your customer to be led to you and you alone.  After all, you are the best person (and business) to help them hang up their picture!


Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things:
Social Media StrategySocial Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.

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