Insight Selling and Developing Solution Acumen: Q&A with Mike Kunkle – Part 4

Insight Selling and Developing Solution Acumen: Q&A with Mike Kunkle – Part 4
July 9, 2015

Thus far in this Q&A series, sales force transformation expert Mike Kunkle (@Mike_Kunkle) has articulately discussed insight selling in B2Bs (part 1), sales rep involvement in the buyer’s journey (part 2), and inhibitors to effective insight selling (part 3). But there was one more thing from his article on insight selling that I wanted him to expand upon: his “secret sauce.” He mentioned a number of elements integral to effective selling, and I asked him about what he called “solution acumen.”

Mike KunkleOne element of your “secret sauce” that you mention is “Solution Acumen.” How can reps develop this?

MK: Solution Acumen is part of the secret sauce mix. You don’t make sales without it. But it’s a result of the other things like Customer Acumen, Business Acumen/Financial Acumen and domain expertise that allow you to build an effective solution and talk about it in terms that matter to the buyer.

We can develop true Solution Acumen in reps by:

  • Helping them better understand their market, buyer personas, actual buyers, and their businesses.

  • Developing Business Acumen and Financial Acumen – in general – but also specific to your domain, meaning: how your customer’s make money, how your organization operates, and the problems you solve or opportunities you enable for customers, with your products and services.

  • Using Scenario-based Solution Training rather than straight product training (meaning: teach by using real case studies and put reps in real-world situation or scenarios, where they have to develop the best solution for their client, using everything they know about the situation and their products and services).

  • Reducing focus on Features and Benefits, even how Benefits meet Needs. It’s far more people to connect Impacts and Outcomes. In other words, dig a level deeper, to understand the Impacts of the current situation – to connect your Solution to resolving or avoiding those Negative Impacts and achieving their desired Positive Outcomes instead (all in the language and metrics that matter to the buyer(s) with whom you’re working).

When you do that, you’ve moved from Products and Services to real Solutions and to creating real value. No matter how compelling or cool your insights may be, if you can’t continue the dialogue to get to this point, you won’t be selling much.

Insight is important – perhaps even critical in some cases – but it’s usually still the ticket to entry. At some point, you need to have the deeper dialogue and solve real problems to deliver customer value.

For more insight from Mike, visit is blog on transforming sales results at or follow his posts on LinkedIn.

For details on how Brainshark helps reps have more productive, successful sales conversation, view a short demo.

Mike Kunkle Q&A Series

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4