When I ask salespeople and sales executives whether their company provides solutions, they answer yes—virtually every time. Yet when I ask these same salespeople what solution they provided for their last customer, their answers tell a different story. I hear all about their products and services, complete with dazzling brand names and mind-boggling acronyms.

My point is that everybody claims they’re in the solutions business, but for the most part it’s just empty words. The word solution is used so much that no one knows what it means anymore. So, when salespeople say they are in the solutions business, buyers ignore these words, because to them it’s just more sales and marketing hype. It is important for individuals and ...

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