You know what people think of when they hear the word “Salesman?” Words like slimy used car salesman and annoying telemarketer would probably make the top of that list. Many salespeople are under the impression that if they vomit all of their products and services onto someone, that person will eventually find one or two things that will encourage them to buy.

Modern day consumers don’t like that. It has gotten to the point where consumers are skeptical to trust a salesperson, and some will try and find any way to avoid salespeople all together.

This idea that all salespeople are out to “Rip you off” or “Sell you something you don’t need” is a result of generations of salespeople and sales training programs enforcing solution based selling.

You see, the art of selling incorporates a variety of tactics that rely on fluctuating factors – from how you look and smell to how you walk and talk.  It’s not just about how you sell.  It’s about how you look when you do it.  How long you make eye contact for.  How you approach the consumer.  How well the consumer’s morning went.  How plump those pocketbooks are… and so on and so forth.  There are factors you can control and others you cannot.

But if one thing is for certain, it’s that we are living and selling in a customer-first world.  It’s consumer-centric and they-oriented.  And if you fail to deep dive into who the consumer is, what they want, and how they tick, then you will fail to sell… because, people, all that really matters at the end of the day, are the selfish needs, wants, and desires of the person who’s doing the buying.

One way to do this – to ensure you’re fully tapping into the needs, wants, and desires of consumers – is to fall back onto PAS.  But to effectively explain what PAS is, we must first delve into what SPA is.

What is SPA and why do people use it?

SPA is the most natural way for a salesperson to pitch a solution.  It stands for “Solution, Problem, Alternative.”  When SPA is utilized, a salesperson will approach a potential customer and immediately throw a solution at them. They explain what it is, how it works, and why it’s so incredibly perfect in every way imaginable.

Want to learn more about sales? Read the Definitive Guide to Sales.

After they’ve thrown up on that person, then they’ll ask what the customer needs – hoping a problem will magically surface.  If the problem does come to light, the conversation should naturally float into how the proposed solution stacks up to the competition.  And then ooooobviously, the customer will buy, buy, buy.  Right?

Not so much.  This logic doesn’t make any sense, and if you really stop to think about it, the only reason salespeople even practice SPA is because it’s the easiest way for them to spark up a conversation.  Why?  Because it’s always easy to talk about something you already know.

Why doesn’t SPA work?

SPA doesn’t work for an avalanche of eye-gauging, mind-aching, soul-splicing reasons.  But the biggest reason is the one we’ve already hit on.

We’re living in a customer-centric world, and if you aren’t down with it, then you can show yourself out.

When you hit on the solution first, you’re doing nothing to capture your prospect’s attention.  All you’re doing is dumping something on someone without knowing if they actually want or need to be dumped on.
And that’s just rude.

You haven’t bonded with anyone.  You haven’t earned anyone’s trust.  And you haven’t done yourself any favors.  Therefore, you must learn to PAS.

What is PAS and why does it work?

Think about how you solve everyday problems.  You clearly know you have one.  You’ve pondered it; you’ve sulked about it, and you’ve worked it through your mind over and over again.  The problem is there, and it’s obvious.  So you need to solve it.

But to solve the problem, you must first identify the many ways you could potentially go about it.  In other words, you identify the alternatives.  “There’s this and there’s that, but which one will solve my problem most effectively?”  You hold up a few alternatives and then you cut them down until you’re only left with one.  And that… that is your solution.

Now, this makes sense.  Solving problems this way, Makes. Total. Sense.  It’s a logical way to come to not only a solution but the solution.  So if this is the case, why not sell this way, too?

When you flip SPA around to correspond with this everyday logic, then you find yourself with PAS – Problem, Alternative, Solution.  It’s how the majority of people respond to everyday issues and problems, and it’s how you will ultimately bond with clients and sell your solution in the most user-centric way possible.

PAS gives you the opportunity to build up your credibility and develop some semblance of a relationship with your prospect.  It leads the prospect to believe that you care and that you genuinely want to help them.  And when you can do this, you gain trust.  And trust, now that’s invaluable.