Read a great post by IDC’s Michael Gerard about solution selling. I was fortunate to experience that for the first time several years ago by a very successful vendor rep who has since become a good friend. I thought by now, every sales organization practiced solution selling-but I was wrong.

Michael’s post says, “For nearly 10 years, sales organizations have emphasized the desire to become “trusted partners” with their B2B customers. However, only one in five buyers will tell you that he/she is generally approached by sales reps prepared to discuss solutions.” He goes on to say that most sales engagements are still product led.

Given the stiff competition in the marketplace and all we know about the psychology of selling, why is this still the case and what can we do about it?

It’s been around for a long time. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. To me, anything else is either luck or desperation. With B2B’s extended sales cycle, relationship building becomes even more important. IDC finds that buyers are saying the pre-purchase experience is becoming a more important indicator of post-purchase value. They also say buyers are increasingly considering “relationship ROI” while considering product ROI.

So, what are we marketers doing to help facilitate relationship building? What are we doing to help build trust and likeability?

I’m working with a client and made a suggestion to him that I think was a completely foreign concept: offer some valuable content or tool that has absolutely no mention of your product. In this case, I suggested an e-book on competitive analysis best practices, since they provide a service that consolidates competitive and market information.

As marketers, what research can we provide our sales team? Have we read the latest news and annual reports to find out what is happening now or where they want to go in the future? Have we researched both the decision makers and influencers to find out what roles they have had in the past and any accomplishments they’ve had? By the way, LinkedIn is great for that type of research.

Michael goes on to say, “Buyers will tell you that, in this economy, they no longer have tolerance for uninformed vendor representatives who come through their doors.”  Heck, I never did!

Prospects don’t want your products; they want solutions to their problems. They want to find those solutions with people they know, like, and trust. Does your marketing plan support that?

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