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Solution selling is a sales approach where managed service providers (MSPs) focus on addressing customer needs with tailored solutions rather than just offering products. It’s an effective way to sell services because it builds long-term client relationships and delivers higher value. However, there are various advantages and disadvantages to consider. Understanding these and following steps and helpful tips is crucial for success using this approach.

How does solution selling work?

In solution selling, sales reps first thoroughly assess a prospect’s needs. After diving deep into the client’s operations, reps use this knowledge to create and recommend customized solutions that they believe will best help them solve their pain points and reach their goals. This differs from conventional selling, which often focuses more on existing services and packages.

Solution selling vs. product selling

Solution selling differs from product selling by focusing on a client’s specific challenges rather than merely pushing a product the MSP seeks to sell. In product selling, the emphasis is on the features and benefits of the product itself, often with a one-size-fits-all approach. Conversely, solution selling involves a thorough understanding of the client’s business, pain points, industry dynamics, and goals to craft a custom-built solution.

Rather than pursuing short-term gains through transactional sales processes, solution selling emphasizes long-term relationships that deliver tangible business outcomes for clients. Through this method, MSPs can distinguish themselves in a competitive market, foster sustainable growth, and establish themselves as long-term partners with potential access to boardroom members.

Pros and cons of solution selling

Solution selling offers numerous advantages over traditional selling methods but also presents certain downsides that must be carefully considered. For MSPs, it’s crucial to weigh these benefits against the potential drawbacks and understand the various potential trade-offs that are involved. A thorough evaluation will help ensure that the approach aligns with both the MSP’s goals and the client’s needs.

The advantages of solution selling include:

  • Strategic partnerships: By aligning solutions with client objectives, MSPs can position themselves as strategic partners rather than mere service providers. This enhances the MSP’s perceived value and opens the door to opportunities for long-term collaboration and mutual growth.
  • Value-driven outcomes: By focusing on the ‘why’ behind a purchase, MSPs can deliver tailored IT solutions that directly enhance clients’ operational efficiency, security, and profitability, driving measurable success and satisfaction.
  • Deeper client insights: The approach requires a thorough understanding of the client’s business landscape to uncover insights into their needs and challenges. These discoveries enable MSPs to anticipate future needs, understand the threat landscape, and proactively offer effective solutions.

However, solution selling can present the following drawbacks:

  • Resource-intensive process: The investment of resources required for in-depth analysis and solution development can strain the time and manpower of MSP’s sales and support teams, especially when dealing with complex client organizations and rapidly evolving technological landscapes.
  • Lengthy sales cycles: The need for custom demonstrations and extensive consultations can extend an already lengthy sales cycle, testing the endurance of both MSPs and their clients.
  • Client resistance: The complexity of the process can sometimes lead to client resistance if they perceive the process as intrusive or overly complicated, undermining the effectiveness of the process.

To maintain effectiveness without overwhelming clients or overburdening internal resources, it’s important to actively balance these benefits and drawbacks. Through diligent management of challenges, MSPs can optimize the advantages of solution selling, leading to increased client retention, enhanced satisfaction, and higher revenue growth.

Top 11 considerations before selling solutions

To determine the suitability of solution selling for individual client targeting, the sales team should conduct a thorough evaluation from multiple angles. This entails assessing the client’s specific requirements, identifying necessary research tasks, ensuring alignment with internal procedures, gauging overall sales potential, considering training needs, and weighing various other factors critical to success.

Client needs

When clients encounter complex challenges requiring tailored, comprehensive solutions, solution selling empowers MSPs to precisely customize solutions to address these. While it helps ensure efficient problem-solving and elevated buy-in, it’s important to evaluate whether the process can accommodate the time, resources, and longer sales cycle involved.

Market research

Comprehensive market analysis is essential in identifying marketplace trends, competitor assessment, and potential risks and opportunities. MSPs must assess whether they have the necessary resources to perform this thorough analysis and determine whether the findings can be applied effectively to benefit the client’s situation.

Internal alignment

For the process to be effective, it must align seamlessly across departments, including sales, marketing, support teams, and other areas of the MSP’s business. This alignment should occur without placing an undue burden on any particular team. Ask whether the departments can collaborate smoothly to ensure cohesive and efficient solution development.

Resource allocation

Developing and implementing custom demos and solutions requires significant resources. MSPs need to ensure they have adequate time, personnel, and technology to meet these demands. Are these resources available to create and deliver tailored solutions without compromising other operational areas?

Training and development

Effective solution selling depends on well-trained sales reps, product developers, and technical support staff working as one cohesive orchestrated team. All team members must know their particular contribution to the process. Do sales reps, product developers, and technical support personnel have the training needed to effectively carry out their roles as one cohesive team?

Value proposition

Defining a clear value proposition is another crucial component. This statement not only sets the MSP’s offerings apart but also resonates with prospects, demonstrating how their needs will be purposefully met. The value proposition serves as a promise of value to be delivered and helps prospects understand why they should choose the MSP over competitors. Can the team compellingly articulate these benefits to effectively distinguish themselves in the market?


Scalability is always a major consideration. Proposed solutions must not only support client growth and adapt to evolving needs without sacrificing quality or effectiveness but also scale seamlessly to meet long-term demands. Scalability ensures long-term operational efficiency, allowing for sustained functionality and growth. Can the solutions scale effectively to meet long-term demands and continue delivering consistent value?

Long-term partnerships

As clients become accustomed to a deep level of advisory engagement, it becomes an ongoing expectation, making it essential to have multiple key MSP sellers involved in the account over the long term. This ensures continuity and seamless transitions in the event of personnel changes. Is the sales team prepared for deep, ongoing client relationships that support long-term goals, with plans in place to manage transitions effectively?

Upselling or cross-selling opportunities

When existing clients show potential for additional services or upgrades, solution selling helps identify and address these new needs. This leads to increased revenue through upselling and cross-selling tailored solutions. Are there systems in place to recognize and capitalize on these opportunities effectively?

Industry-specific solutions

Certain industries require specialized solutions to meet unique challenges and regulatory standards. Solution selling enables MSPs to develop and present offerings that precisely address these industry-specific needs. Can the MSP tailor their solutions to comply with the specific requirements of these industries?

Top accounts

For large, prestigious, and high-value accounts, positioning your organization as a trusted partner is essential. Solution selling helps demonstrate commitment to these clients’ success, fostering loyalty and long-term engagement. Are MSPs able to position themselves as indispensable partners for these top-tier clients?

By evaluating the top considerations for solution selling, MSPs can determine whether the methodology aligns with the goals and capabilities of their organization. Through a thorough examination of factors such as customer needs, market trends, and technological capabilities, they can make informed decisions on how to approach the marketplace.

7 steps to get started in solution selling

Solution selling is all about customer-centricity. It encompasses understanding the market and customer, identifying pain points, proposing tailored solutions, building relationships, handling objections, demonstrating value, and closing the deal.

1. Research your customer and market

Begin by thoroughly researching your target market and identifying potential customers who would benefit from your solutions. Dive deep into understanding their industry, challenges, and goals to tailor your approach effectively. If you identify the client struggling with cybersecurity, showcase your expertise to position yourself as a valuable partner rather than just another vendor.

2. Identify major pain points

Engage in meaningful conversations with prospects to uncover their pain points and areas where they seek improvement. Ask probing questions to get to the root of their issues and understand the impact on their business. If clients struggle with data management issues, empathize with their challenges and propose solutions that enhance their data-handling capabilities.

3. Propose customized solutions

Once you’ve identified the major pain points, propose customized solutions that directly address client challenges. Clearly articulate the value proposition and how it aligns with their objectives. If the client faces operational inefficiencies, be certain to tailor your solution to streamline their processes and demonstrate clear value.

4. Build relationships

Focus on building rapport with your prospects by showcasing specific expertise, reliability, and a genuine interest in their success. Invest time in nurturing relationships through consistent communication and providing valuable insights. Consider sharing industry trends and insights with the client to position yourself as a knowledgeable and reliable partner, leading to repeat business and referrals.

5. Handle objections

Anticipate potential objections and be prepared to address them confidently. Highlight how the specific solution overcomes objections and provides tangible benefits to the prospect. If a client is concerned about cost, illustrate how the customized solution delivers a strong ROI by reducing their operational expenses over time.

6. Demonstrate value

Provide evidence of the value the solution has delivered to similar clients through case studies, testimonials, or demonstrations. Showcase how the solution can drive measurable results and contribute to the prospect’s bottom line. For example, present a case study where the solution increased another client’s productivity by 20% to inspire confidence in your offerings.

7. Close the deal

Once the value of the solution has been successfully demonstrated and any concerns have been addressed, ask for the sale. Guide the prospect through the closing process with clear next steps and timelines. Provide a detailed implementation plan and timeline to reassure the client and increase the likelihood of closing the deal.

By following these steps and embracing a customer-centric approach, MSPs can effectively navigate the complexities of solution selling and build mutually beneficial relationships with top-tier clients.

Top 5 tips for successful solution selling

Solution selling can be complex for MSPs, requiring a nuanced understanding of client needs and the ability to develop tailored solutions. Here are essential tips to navigate this intricate process and achieve success:

Embrace client-centricity

Adopt a client-centric mindset by actively listening to clients and empathizing with their pain points. Prioritize their needs over pushing products or services. For example, if a manufacturing client struggles with inventory management, propose solutions that optimize their inventory processes to build stronger ties.

Cultivate deep industry knowledge

Invest in staying abreast of industry trends, regulations, and emerging technologies relevant to your clients’ sectors. For instance, a healthcare provider facing compliance challenges will value solutions that address regulatory needs while enhancing operational efficiency. Position yourself in an advisory capacity by offering well-informed, sector-specific solutions.

Leverage data-driven insights

Use data and analytics to understand client behaviors and needs better. Present data-driven insights to clients to back up your proposed solutions. For example, show a client how predictive analytics can improve their supply chain efficiency, demonstrating your ability to deliver measurable results.

Develop strong technical expertise

Ensure your team has a deep technical understanding of the solutions you offer. This enables you to address technical questions confidently and provide robust support. For instance, having a certified security expert on your team who can troubleshoot and optimize a client’s cloud infrastructure can significantly enhance client trust and satisfaction.

Communicate value effectively

Articulate how your solutions address clients’ pain points, streamline processes, reduce costs, or drive revenue growth. Clear and concise communication that resonates with clients’ priorities is key to securing buy-in and building repeat business. Tailor your message to address specific concerns and interests, positioning yourself as a trusted advisor capable of delivering tangible business outcomes.

Bottom line: Elevating success by mastering the solution selling process

Solution selling fosters enduring partnerships by adopting a client-centric approach, building industry expertise, prioritizing relationships, customizing solutions, and effectively communicating value. Integrating this methodology into your sales organization promises increased revenue, client satisfaction, loyalty, and a competitive edge. Solution selling is essential for sustained growth, differentiation, and strong client relationships.

Solution selling is just one of many sales methodologies MSPs can use to generate business. To explore other effective sales models and how they compare, check out our comparison of the top sales models for MSPs and how to choose the right one.