Presenting Imperfect Solutions

By Heather Baldwin

Face it: No matter how well you’re going to present your solution to the customer, or how well suited that solution is to the customer’s needs, there are few products or services ideally suited to a client. In other words, in the customer’s eyes you’re probably going to be presenting an imperfect solution. “There are always things we can’t provide or do in the way in which the customer was hoping,” says Flyn Penoyer, founder of Santa Clara, California-based Penoyer Communications (www.penoyer.com). Rarely, however, are the gaps insurmountable. Here are Penoyer’s recommendations for presenting an imperfect solution.

1. Confirm the benefits customers are looking for. Remember, a benefit is a specific performance request from the customer, says Penoyer, not something you think is valuable.

2. Explain how each benefit will be met by your solution. Here is where you show how well your solution is going to meet each customer need. Penoyer recommends you explain benefits with questions, for example: If you had an application that could plan and manage each of your manufacturing steps, how would that improve your situation over your current manual method? The question should lead prospects to tell you the downfalls of the current situation and at the same time show you their view of the value they perceive in the use of yours. The answer should give you the information you need to close.

3. Detail each of the gaps in your solution, how you will compensate for those gaps and how you will accomplish the related task. Start by asking questions related to that item’s value, then work towards getting the client to agree that other things you provide are of more or equal value than the missing item.

4. Briefly explain the additional benefits your solution provides. These are benefits your buyers might not have asked for directly, but which are valuable in your solution. This doesn’t mean covering everything you can offer, and it doesn’t mean going in depth and boring your clients. Just go through those items you know to be the main values of your solution that weren’t covered in the customer requests or earlier discussions.

5. Confirm the total solution. Once you have documented and verified the needs of the buyers and the solution you can provide to meet those needs, you must get the buyers to tell you the value they perceive in that solution. When they see the value, says Penoyer, your solution becomes an investment, not a cost.