Solution selling has been around for 37 years.  In 1975 Frank Watts, convinced the sales profession to stop selling products and to start solving customer problems.  In 1983 Mike Bosworth, enabled mass adoption of a solution selling method in the B to B sales world and it’s never been the same.


This past weekend, my daughter needed a pair of running shoes for the upcoming cross country season.  Our visit to Luke’s Locker was going to be product sell for sure. As we entered the store- our eyes scanned the visuals from Nike, Adidas, and Saucony. Each visual touted the features of their product.   The sales strategy of the manufactures was product based.  Then it all changed…… we were approached by the sales staff at the store.


Since my daughter was in her running clothes, it was obvious who the customer was.  He began the conversation with a series of questions:


  • How long have you been running?
  • What shoes have you worn?
  • What did you like or dislike about them?
  • Have you had any injuries?


My daughter shared with him that numbness occurred in her toes after a run- he had uncovered the PAIN in the first 60 seconds.  He could have easily said, “your shoes are to small” and moved to a demo.  


He instead continued to educate my daughter on what might be causing her discomfort beyond the shoe:


  • What type of socks do you wear when you run?
  • How are you lacing your running shoes?


He then asked her to walk slowing away from us towards the door. He said- “look- her left foot is rolling in …. could be causing some additional pressure”.  He then EDUCATED us on some potential steps:


  • Correct foot measurement because feet swell when you’re running
  • Shoes that had interior support to prevent her left foot from rolling.
  • Running socks that don’t bunch up or hold moisture.
  • Lacing a running shoe correctly.


He then said to my daughter- I know that looks are important, “give me your color preferences”? He turned to head to the back storage area, paused and said,
“My first priority is to make sure you’re never “numb” and that you don’t have knee injuries, but I promise I’ll bring back some choices that will get everything ALIGNED”.


He returned with 3 different pairs of running shoes.  “Let’s try them out”.  The DEMONSTRATION was completed, at the end of the sales process, and my daughter made her choice. 


Solution Selling has evolved, been modified, tweaked and continues to morph.  37 years later and reps still use it to achieve quota. An idea born during the Gerald Ford presidency that has remained relevant for this long is worthy of consideration.


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