Sell the outcome, not the solution

In business model, sales by neville

I’m in the middle of pivoting my business.

I’m going from helping entrepreneurs deal with overwhelm to building a 6-figure lifestyle business. It doesn’t sound like much, but there’s a whole lot to it, leading up to it and what it means for my business. Here’s an inside peek at why this happened, and why it’s so important to sell outcomes, not solutions.

Growing up as a techie

I grew up as a techie. I studied Computer Science (and, for my sins, mathematics) and spent the first 15 years of my career developing all sorts of wonderfully technical systems. And I loved it. I’m an introvert by nature and it was easy for me to spend hours and hours cloistered away in an office or a computer lab (we had those back in the day), poring over manuals, systems details and writing software in everything from COBOL to assembler to C and beyond.

When I started my first solo business it was easy to remain in this world – the world of tech where my expertise at making software sing was my greatest asset. But as a business it didn’t work. Clients weren’t interested in my technical expertise – they wanted a solution to a business problem. I had to learn to switch from selling my technical expertise to understanding what the customer needed, and providing them with something that would solve their business problem.

I was learning to sell the outcome, not the solution.

You need a hammer (or do you?)

When you go to the hardware store to buy a tool, say a hammer, you’re not buying the hammer for the sake of owning a hammer. You’re buying it because the hammer is going to help you accomplish something – better or faster than you could before.

You bought the hammer so that you could finish a job. When you’re done with the job, you’ve accomplished what you set out to do and the hammer goes in the toolbox. The end result is way more important than the hammer – you could have bought any one of a whole range of hammers to get the job done.

In this case, the hammer was the solution to a problem, but it’s not the end result. The end result is what you accomplished using it.

It’s exactly the same when you’re building a business.

The Tornado Method is a great tool

If you’ve been reading my articles you already know about the Tornado Method. It’s a framework with 11 elements in 3 layers that contains all the things you need to get right to have a successful business – and a life.

The Tornado Method was born out of my own frustration at not understanding all of the details I needed to grow my own business successfully. It’s turned into a great tool for designing a business, analysing what’s wrong in a business and helping my customers and subscribers build and manage their own businesses.

It’s a great framework, but it wasn’t enough to build the kind of lifestyle business I want right now. It’s a solution to a problem (actually to a range of problems), not an outcome.

But there’s a better way to build a business

Imagine walking into that same hardware store looking for that same hammer. As you’re searching for the right hammer, you ask one of the in-house experts for their advice, and they start talking about what you’re trying to achieve.

Notice the shift there? They’re starting the conversation asking about the problem you’re trying to solve. There are many different kinds of hammers – a 12-ounce ball and peen hammer is designed to do something very different from a framing hammer. And you may even discover that you don’t actually need a hammer at all – to get the job done you may need something quite different.

The point is that it’s a lot easier to help people get something done than it is to sell them a tool. Tools are great, but outcomes are even greater.

I’ve always known that the Tornado Method is a great tool. But in the back of my mind I was looking for the one thing that I could help people do that would go beyond the tool. And through a confluence of circumstances, coincidences and serendipity the penny finally dropped:

Most of my customers, subscribers and readers (that’s you) read my articles and buy my products because they’re in the process of building a lifestyle business. Some of them are doing that consciously, some less so – but the end result, the outcome that everyone is looking for – is about being their own boss, controlling their own destiny, doing what they like doing, working with people they like and still having time to enjoy what matters to them.

Making the shift from tools to outcomes

So I decided to pivot my business from selling a tool (the Tornado Method and the products and services around it) to selling an outcome – how to build your ultimate 6-figure lifestyle business. In some ways this is a minor pivot – I’m not changing the tools, products or services I’ve developed. But I am changing how I’m presenting it – the promise I would like to deliver on.

And you need to think about your business the same way. You’re not selling website development services or consulting services – you’re helping your clients achieve something. That “something” may be more clients, or smoother operations, or improved marketing and sales – whatever you’re selling helps your clients achieve something they’re struggling with.

Your clients are not interested in the technical bits of how you do what you do. They hired you because you’re the technical expert and they don’t have or want those skills in-house. But most importantly they’re hiring you to solve a problem.

So sell the outcome. Talk to them about how their problem is affecting their business and how it will be improved when the problem has been solved.

The most powerful sales conversation you can have

And that will lead you into one of the most powerful conversations you can have – what value is attached to solving the problem. When your client knows what it’s worth to them to have the problem solved, it’s a lot easier to justify investing in your services. It’s a whole different conversation from how much you charge per hour.

If your client doesn’t already know what its worth to have the problem solved, they’re going to be really impressed with how you’re approaching it. This is not just about you trying to sell your services to them – this is about helping them make the right decision for their business. And if they already understand the value conversation, they’re going to like you even more because you understand what their business needs.

It’s not about the hammer

In the end, it’s not about the tool – the hammer. It’s what you’re trying to do with it. If you can help your customers achieve an outcome (rather than selling them a tool) you have a much more powerful value proposition.

And you will be helping them achieve their dream a lot faster.

That’s why I am pivoting my business. I’m moving from selling tools to selling an outcome – a life you can live on your terms. That is a much bigger and more “worthy” goal, something that people are able to relate to. My tools, products and services are still there, but now I’m selling them as a means to achieve an end, not just a whizz-bang tool.

You need to do the same for your business. Sell the outcome, not the tool or your expertise. You – and your clients – will be much better off as a result.