It's frustrating seeing the constant misuse of the phrase 'solution-provider'. I see it in standard product catalogues, tons of promotional material, and even on plumbers' vans. True solution-provision is about opening your ears and gathering information, using your brain, and being adaptable. Above all, it's being able to put youself in your client's shoes so that you can determine implied and unstated requirements.
Background: An English client was wooing a large French prospect to start purchasing product manufactured here in good-ol' Blighty. The French company is a catalogue supplier.
1) The French company would like all labelling to be in French, but doesn't know if it's possible.
2) Naturally, the sales person said "yes, it is"!
3) The French company said the item number needs to be large so that their warehouse people can read it from a distance.
4) The French company only have 'core' part numbers on their own database, but they will eventually append two finish codes to every item.
5) The English database can only accommodate English descriptions.
1) Compile an Excel spreadsheet containing the French company's core part numbers (approx 125 rows)
2) Add the core product descriptions in French.
3) Explode the spreadsheet data to append every permutation of finish code onto each part and append French finish descriptions (becomes 3000 rows of data).
4) Import the data into a SQL table in the client's ERM database.
5) Source customised labels to fit the packaging.
6) Write a customised labelling routine to exactly replicate the French company's label layout. We access the ERM database to automatically insert the French description on the labels. Oh, and lets put the French company's logo and a barcode onto the label while we are at it.
One week after the intial request, we sent a label to the French prospect, who replied with: "Hi, it's exactly what we need. The size of the characters for our code is correct and we also have a French description and colour. Just one word: Perfect!"
This is true solution-providing. Listening to the client's needs, being able to deduce impied and unstated needs, and putting-in the effort to provide the solution. It cost more in the short-term than just saying 'sorry, we only have English descriptions', but the potential ROI is obvious.