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Last week we looked at the first and most fundamental part of selling a solution, [click here]understanding the employer’s business needs. This article assumes you have done this and now activity has switched to developing and selling the learning solution.

The statement above, “the solution must fit the business need” seems blindingly obvious. But, on further examination it is clear that it is not straightforward as just this. As well as meeting the need the solution will still have to be sold, the competition will still have to be beaten, a price agreed and a plan put in place for the implementation.

It is wrong to think of developing the solution and selling the solution as two stages that are sequential. They are not. It is important that the selling process continues whilst you are developing and resourcing the final solution.

In developing the solution the following will already have been determined in the early stages of engagement with the employer: the key factors of the business needs; the working culture and environment; profile of learners, and what the employer would see as success.

The task now is to match this to the resources the college can offer and engage with other trusted specialist providers or consultants to complete the solution required. In this context the college is taking the front line role, will sign the contract and take the responsibility for the quality of the delivery and outcomes.

This stage is fraught with risk and requires commitment from the college learning resources and constant communication with the employer. Also, the engagement with third party resources should include frank and open discussions not only about the commercial terms but also how you would expect them the behave and operate as part of the college team.

Selling the solution is an ongoing process that engages and builds confidence with the employer. Each contact with the employer should add value to them in some way. An example of this could be meeting with them to discuss the timetable and communication plan for the programme, or to review with them the options you have on a particular element of the solution. In this way you are positioning the college as an organisation that is professional, knowledgeable and has the success of the programme at the front of their mind.

Typically there will be some form of presentation of the final solution. This could be either across the desk or a formal presentation to a group of people. The key to selling the solution is to be able to position the solution, its costs and implementation requirements in the context of the business issues and their financial implications.

The Return On Investment (ROI) should be significant. By this stage the employer should be very confident that you not only will be able to deliver the solution but also are focused on the outcomes in terms of their business needs. If the ROI is strong then pressure on your price should reduce significantly and put you in a good negotiating position.

Finally, I”d like to share with you a case of a college I was talking to recently. They had found an opportunity and were working with other delivery partners to build the complete solution for the employer. When they got back to the employer they found that another provider had approached them and closed the business a few days before they had been back in contact. The word of warning here is never assume you are the only ones they are talking to and to keep the communication level with the employer high throughout.

The Employer Engagement Coach has a strong solution selling approach built into it. It is available as a web based service from Perperitus Ltd. Details of the costs and membership benefits can be found at or if you have specific questions please call 0118 965 4066 or email David Batup at [email protected].

David Batup, Managing Partner, Perperitus Ltd.

Related FE News articles:

“You Must Understand Employer Needs” – 10/11/06

“Sales Needs Scientific Approach” – 3/11/06

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