Unanticipated Solutions

Published on February 15, 2016

Introducing Value Drivers #3

Value over price. How and when does that happen?

This my third post to introduce four Value Drivers from Neil Rackham’s research into the attributes of world class salespeople.

To help us understand the forces at play in these insightful customer conversations, Neil Rackham introduced the concept of “pattern recognition… as we hone our pattern recognition skills, we will be able to help our customers discover new and better approaches in dealing with problems”.

The first was the Unrecognised Problem, “a state or source of difficulty that we need to resolve but we are not aware of…”.

The next Value Driver is the Unanticipated Solution, where we help the customer to “redefine the connective tissue between the problem and the outcome”.

To achieve such a result, the salesperson is effectively applying their business acumen and industry knowledge through skilful questioning to understand and improve the direction the client is taking to help them create a solution that they hadn’t considered. That is, we help them find the Unanticipated Solution that optimally meets or, even better, exceeds their requirements

A particularly well known example of an Unanticipated Solution was the Happy Meal, recommended by Coke, to address McDonald’s objective of delivering greater value to their customers while dealing with reducing margins on burgers.

An Unanticipated Solution impacts one or all of five financial measures: revenue, cost of sales, margin, expense or profit. In Coke’s Happy Meal example, higher margins in coke and fries achieved improved financial performance and they delivered a customer that has lasted for generations, literally!

The following Solutions Plan has been proposed by Mr Rackham, (Escaping The Price-Driven Sale, 2008, Huthwaite Inc., Figure 3.8, page65) as a tool to assist a salesperson’s thinking relating to creating value for a particular client.


Your Capabilities Client Business Functions
Revenue Cost of Sales Margin Expenses Profit
Company New revenue opportunities Reduce expense (economies of scale)
Products & Services Decreased print costs
People Reduce FTE’s