If you discuss the gig economy, human cloud platforms or total talent management with your clients, chances are they would be challenged to describe how they can benefit from or leverage these emerging talent models. How do you sell a staffing solution few people have even heard of? Therein lies your dilemma.

Enter solution selling. Here’s a nonstaffing example: I once took advantage of a “free” consultation with a holistic health professional. As a sales pro myself, I knew exactly what she was doing as she led me through a funnel of questions. “You’re having headaches? And back pain? How are those impacting your life? What would be worth if I could help you get rid of those?” By the end, I was happy to sign up for a series of treatments, because I saw the potential for less pain — even though I didn’t fully understand the solution. She could have been selling me oil of muskrat with an electrode chaser. As long as I believed those results were possible (the satisfaction guarantee helped!), I honestly didn’t care what the solution was.

At Cerius, we focus on the most critical aspect of solution selling: proof. Just like that health practitioner, we sell results, not just solutions. We can talk about interim and part-time executive solutions all day long. But unless clients can see and touch tangible evidence that our solutions will get them business results, it doesn’t matter.

The right questions. To be able to discuss results and solutions, you first need to be able to understand and discuss the client’s problems. Probe deeply. Ask follow-ups. Seek to understand the challenges of the organization as a whole. What have they done in the past? What has worked? What hasn’t? How many times have they filled this role in the past three years?

In our business, we’ve found nothing that communicates the benefits of unfamiliar solutions such as interim executive staffing like a story does — particularly, stories about results seen by another client in a similar situation.

Make it relatable. Once you’re sure you’ve gathered all the intel you need, talk through client examples. Include relevant information about other placements that produced tremendous results (whether in sales, finance, operations, marketing, admin, etc.) within similar organizations. Speak in story structure: (Once upon a time) there was a company; this was the situation; the interim/part-time/ temp project-to-perm (solution) did “x”; the end state was “y”; and the total impact (results which your solution delivered) for the client were “z”.

When discussing past client results, make it a point to explicitly call out similarities. Even though one of your biggest clients is a large technology company, it may be difficult for a small manufacturing firm’s CEO to relate unless you draw connections between their situations.

Never underestimate how powerful relatability can be. We recently distributed a post about an interim supply chain executive. Within days, we heard from a CEO who said, “I need a similar individual, and I’d like to speak further about you supporting our efforts.”

Stay in touch. As talent supply and technology companies, we don’t create the results directly. But the talent we match with the company does. After a placement, stay in touch with both the client and the talent. The results and stories are the gem in their crown, and a tool in your kit that future clients can learn from and leverage.

We have a saying: “Show me the numbers.” Regardless of the level of the role or tenure at the client, what they accomplish can be captured for future client success stories. This creates a virtuous cycle of results that can be shared with even more clients. Whether it is number of candidates who were promoted within the first year, average length of tenure, or impact on increasing company revenues, there is always a means to measure results — which are easier to sell than solutions.