Product vs. Solution Buyers

It’s great when people just want to buy our products and services, but that group is only ever a small part of the entire market. So how do we get to all the others who could be good prospects for us but don’t even know that they need our solutions?

David:                   Hi and welcome to the podcast today co-host Chris Templeton and I will be discussing the difference between product buyers and solution buyers. Welcome Chris.

Chris:                    Hi David. This is a great topic and really interesting when we look at the difference between a product buyer and a solution buyer, is there really a big difference or is it not that big of a deal?

David:                   Good question. I mean, if somebody just wants to come and buy our product, then that’s great, right? We don’t really care too much beyond that, but maybe we should. And here’s what I mean by that. Somebody comes to us out of the blue, let’s say completely unsolicited and they want to buy what it is that we have to offer. Okay, well we can just sell it to them and we can be happy because we made a sale and they can be happy because they got what they wanted. But if we think back to what we talked about in a previous podcast, the idea of creating customers as opposed to just making sales, then we recognize that this is not exactly a great recipe for doing that. And so if we want to really be able to service people on an ongoing basis and turn them into ongoing clients, raving fans, the types of things that we want, then we probably want to move beyond the idea of just getting them what they want and trading products and services for cash and getting to the point where we’re really helping them to solve the problems that they have.

Chris:                     And when you get to work with a solution buyer, it’s a whole different ballgame, and from my standpoint, a whole lot more enjoyable and rewarding.

David:                   Yeah. Because when you’re able to help people with their problems, their issues, the things that are really driving them crazy, it is very rewarding. You feel like you’re actually helping someone while earning a good living doing it. So, it’s sort of the best of all worlds.

Chris:                     And that’s the fact for the buyer. They’re feeling like you have taken this to a place that’s beyond just, “Hey, here it is, and this is the price”. And it really is how a lot of people work and don’t understand how much more fun and how much more enjoyable what they’re doing could be if they were solution providers as opposed to just a product provider. Right?

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David:                   Right. And if people are struggling with this issue, the thing they need to keep in mind is that every product you sell, every service you sell solves a problem.  Because if it didn't, no one would want to buy it. And I mean you say, okay, well what about selling a pack of chewing gum at the grocery store? It solves a problem. That person has a need that they need to fill, I need to chew, and they're going to buy this pack of chewing gum. Right? So it may be a minor need, it may be a major need, but there is an issue. There's something they're looking for. There's something that person craves that they don't have, that they're willing to trade their money for. And as business people, this is one of the main things that we have to look at. What are the things that we can provide that will help people to get what they're looking for?

Chris:                     So are we clear with the audience that really focusing on solution buyers is a much better approach in business?

David:                   Yeah, I think so. But also just the idea that nearly every buyer is to some extent or another, whether they realize it or not, a solution buyer. So as we talked about at the top of the podcast, and we're talking about this idea of somebody who just comes in and buys, they're coming in and they're buying because there is a need that they have to have filled. So if they come to you and they order something and you deliver it, you want to try to extrapolate from that, okay, what are they trying to get out of this purchase? What's the result that they want? Because if they purchased this one thing and it got them this result, is there something else that we could offer that would help them to further that result and get more of that result? Help them to expand the results they're getting. When you adopt that mindset, once again, you're getting inside of their heads more so than your own and you're trying to figure out what are their issues, what are their problems? What needs to be solved and how can I help them to solve it. So it's just a much more giving sort of approach that ends up resulting in more business.

Chris:                     So, is really the difference between the two - a product buyer and a solution buyer, my approach as a salesperson?

David:                   Well it can be your approach as a salesperson, it can be their perception really. There really isn't all that much of a difference between the two. If you accept the fact that nobody really buys anything unless they're looking to solve a problem or a fill a desire. And so all of that, from my standpoint goes to the idea of providing them with a solution to what they're looking for.

Chris:                     Yup. For me that seems like just a given and yet it's amazing how fast we can lose sight of that and desire to sell versus desire to sell and create a long-term relationship where I'm helping them to solve a problem. In a previous conversation you and I had, we talked about the five levels of qualification. Is it fair to say that solution buyers would normally be found often among those who are generally the most receptive?

David:                   Yeah. When we talked about the five levels of qualification, we talked about those who are ready to buy now. That's the top of the pile. Those who have specific dates in mind, that's the second group, so I'm not ready to buy now, but I do want to buy something in three to six months. Then third group are those who are generally receptive. I'm open to the idea, but I'm not sure when or where. Then the fourth group are those who are disqualified, no need, no desire, no money, no budget, et cetera, and then the fifth group are those who are unresponsive, we tried to contact them and they just don't get back to us. So when we think in terms of solution buyers, many of them are going to be found among the group that is generally receptive. They might not know exactly what they need from us at the moment, but they're open to it. They're open to the idea of solutions. They know that there's a need that they have that isn't quite yet being filled. Maybe they don't know that you're the person who can fill that need. So when you're talking to people who seem to be open to it but they're not ready to buy now, very often the reason for that is that we haven't hit on the thing that is going to make the difference - that's going to push them over the edge. If I'm generally receptive to whatever it is that you sell, it means that there is some sort of need that sort of rolling around in the back of my mind that I haven't yet solidified that need hasn't become important enough or burning enough to get me to take action right away.  So what we want to do when we look at people, when we're qualifying people and we're trying to determine where they fall among those five levels of qualification is when we identify someone who is generally receptive. Our goal is to see how we can help move them to either being ready to buy now or having specific dates in mind when they want to buy and that is almost always a matter of finding that need, determining what it is that they want to have happen and then tying together the need that they have with the products and services we offer. Once we've accomplished that, they're going to be a lot more likely to want to do it now rather than later.

Chris:                     So often though, David, I think it's hard for salespeople and business owners who sell what they offer product or service to understand how to get to that need. Like how do I do that in a way that I'm not just coming across as trying to prep myself to make sure that you know that my product is the best for you? What do you say to people that struggle with, how do I get to that need?

David:                   Well, a lot of it is just conversations and most of what we want to do with prospects in terms of our conversations is they're going to start out a lot more general. We're going to try to get an idea of what they do, what they're looking to have happen, how we could potentially help obviously enters into that at some point; but we need to get a basic idea of what they're looking for and that goes whether you're B2B or B2C or B2G, it doesn't really matter. So when we interact with somebody for the first time, and let's say you meet somebody at a networking function, it's all very high level conversation at first.  We're just sort of meeting, exchanging business cards or whatever. We're just talking about the event or different things. We're finding out what's going on with the other person. And then depending on how the conversation goes, it gets deeper into their issues, what they're looking to do, what they're looking to accomplish, whether or not I can use their services, they can use my services and that type of thing. So those conversations, a lot of them are very organic, they're just going to sort of happen like that. But when you recognize that it starts out more general and then it gets more specific as you're sort of moving people through the funnel, then you can gear your conversations accordingly and you can get better results because of it.

Chris:                     And I think it's important to keep in mind that when you're looking at somebody who's generally receptive, you're having conversations that are high level as you put it, that are organic. The biggest and best way to keep them organic is to get away from that feeling of how can I get this person to a sale?  Like, how do I have a genuine conversation with this person and understand that that's a great, great first step.

David:                   When you look at the idea of, and when we talk about the idea of product buyers versus solution buyers, it's not even really a versus because the solution buyers are ultimately going to buy a solution from you and that solution will come in the form of the product or service you offer. So to that extent they're almost synonymous, but the primary difference is in the way that we approach it and the way that they approach it. If they approach it like I am going to buy your widget because I can get it for $2 instead of $2.50 from someone else, that's probably not a long-term sustainable relationship because the minute they can get it somewhere else for a $1.95 you are no longer their preferred vendor. Right? So a lot of it is identifying the fact that if they've got a problem that we can provide a solution to, we're going to be a lot more likely to be valuable to them long-term.

Chris:                     And that is really been a common thread through almost all of these podcasts, David, is this idea of being a value and when that's your approach boy oh boy, does that change your business in a big way.

David:                   Yeah, so just being solutions oriented and deciding that you're going to take an approach like that, it's very helpful. It's very nurturing and it's far more rewarding.

Chris:                     Far more rewarding for everybody, you and your customer and far more fulfilling all the way around. It's, I imagine really a big piece of your business is helping people to move from that place of, “Here's the product I've got. Let's see if you want to do business.”, to really creating those long-term relationships where you have somebody who sees you as an advisor more than just the product you sell and really look at you as somebody that they want to not only do business with, but just have as a resource for the years to come.

David:                   Yes, and positioning you in the market as that.  So that people who don't even know you can look at the content that you're putting out, whether it's social media or whether it's direct mail, whatever it is, they can look at what you're doing. They can see that you actually have a talent, a gift, some sort of thing that you do that is of value to people and when they notice that and they start to think of you as being the solution, then every other option starts to go out of their heads.

Chris:                     Right, and it's all because you've had an authentic approach. They feel comfortable with you. It's a good place to be. It just is such a change in such a shift, and I have total appreciation for what you at and what you're doing with your Total Market Domination course. All of those things are all based in authenticity and helping people as well as yourself, and it's just so important and such a great competitive advantage, isn't it?

David:                   It's a tremendous competitive advantage because when people recognize that you are there to help them to provide solutions to their problems, you're just far more valuable to them. If they just look at you as a commodity, as somebody who provides something that anyone else can provide, then they really have very little incentive to choose you. But when you're able to create that awareness in the marketplace that you are there to provide a specific solution to a problem they have, it becomes far simpler.

Chris:                     So let's get some recommendations on how our listeners should use this information to attract more product buyers and solution buyers.

How to Attract More Product Buyers and Solution Buyers

  1. Recognize the Difference based on what they say and how they approach you.
  2. Consider What's Next for Them. What other issues or problems could your products and services solve for them?
  3. Get into their Heads. Find out what they want to accomplish long-term and in other areas where you might have solutions.
  4. Connect the Dots between the problems they have and the solution you provide, positioning yourself as the only logical choice.

If you need help with this, schedule your complimentary strategy session now.

David:                   Okay, Chris.  Well, I would start with this, recognize that there is a difference between product buyers and solution buyers, at least in their mindset. Somebody's coming to you for a solution and they say, “I would like to buy this particular product. How much is it?” All right? If their first question is how much is it, they're probably more of a product buyer than a solutions buyer. So you can identify that upfront. When that happens, your work is to some extent cut out for you. You would like to be able to migrate them from just a product buyer mentality to more of a solution buyer mentality. So you answer that question. They say, “How much is it?” You can either let them know how much it is, or you can say, “Well, it depends upon your circumstances. Tell me, when do you need to take delivery? How would you plan on using this?" (If it's something that needs to be configured.) Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts depending upon the industry that you're in.  So, you look at what are the signals that you're getting from them. Are they just looking to buy a product and they're viewing you as a commodity? Or are they really looking for a solution that you could provide to them long-term? And once you've identified that, you're off to a great start because now you know what you're dealing with. Once you've done that, then you can also look at what's next for them. What are the other things that they might need that they haven't raised with you? And when you can start getting into their heads and finding out what they're looking to accomplish long-term and what they're looking to accomplish in other areas of what they're doing, then you might be able to find more solutions that you're able to provide to them. So it's a shift in mindset in a lot of cases. First with you, and then also trying to share that shift with the people that you're looking to interact with.  So, if we want to get more product buyers and more solution buyers, then it's really a matter of identifying as often as we can, what are the problems that my market has that I can provide a solution to? Then identifying those people and connecting the dots between the problem that they have, the solution we provide and positioning yourself as the only logical choice.

Chris:                     Takes a little bit of practice.  Would really be a great thing to go to and get some good advice on next steps to do this. Talk a little bit about what they're going to get when they fill out that form on

David:                   Yeah. Basically what we'll do is we'll set up a complimentary strategy session where we can talk to you about the biggest issues that you're having in your business. If you're looking to bring new customers through the door and you're struggling with that, or if you're looking to bring in bigger customers or if you're looking to attract more solutions buyers than product buyers, whatever the issues are that you're dealing with, we can have a conversation about that.  Figure out some of the bottlenecks. We can make some recommendations on how to fix it. If what we're doing makes sense with what you're doing and we both agree that we'd like to work together, we can do that. If not, you'll still get tremendous value from the conversation and we're happy to have it, so if that makes sense for you. Love to talk to you.

Chris:                     Love it. Okay, David, let's talk about what's coming up in our next podcast.

David:                   Okay, Chris, in our next podcast, we will be talking about reaching decision makers. If you ever had a conversation with somebody who just had zero power to make a decision, that can be very frustrating. So, in our next episode, we'll talk about how we can get to the people who actually have the ability to make some decisions.

Chris:                     Excellent. Thank you, David, and we will see you on the next podcast.

David:                   Thanks, Chris.

If you're tired of flat or declining sales and losing business to your competitors, be sure to check out my latest web presentation entitled Programming Clients to Choose You. Who are your very best prospects currently programmed to buy from? Is it you or someone else? If you want it to be, you, visit and register for the free presentation now. That's



    4 replies to "The Difference Between Product Buyers and Solution Buyers"

    • george swaggard

      enjoyed it!

      • David Blaise

        Glad you found it helpful, George.

    • Mike Devenport

      Always a great topic for sales team to be reminded about.

      • David Blaise

        You’re welcome, Mike. I’m glad you found it helpful!

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