What You Already Know: Solution Selling Is So 2012
It is well known that Solution Selling is a thing of the past. In fact, in 2012 Harvard Business Review published an article titled, “The End of Solution Sales”, which describes how “companies can readily define solutions for themselves.” Often, clients today have researched, compared, rationalized and determined the solution before engaging a team for implementation. This has led to organizations and consulting firms identifying their staff and project teams as team members in a “Solution Delivery” organization or department. But Solution Delivery is more than just a group of consultants and technical resources.
It’s not all about the solution. Solution Delivery teams must focus on the positive interactions or touch points with the client and with the ultimate consumer and benefactor of the solution delivered. This focus takes solution delivery beyond typical consulting services and begins to focus on the overall solution delivery experience.
What You Might Already Know: Customer Experience, the Tip of the Iceberg
A lot of thought has already gone into developing the Customer Experience for purchasing tangible products in physical space. This Customer Experience is normally focused around purchasing a product like an Apple iPhone or iPad, a Tesla automobile or a Samsung 4K TV. Some have taken the experience all the way to ownership and servicing the product.
There are 3 main strategic options for companies with a desire to prioritize Customer Experience:
Companies are often not equipped to fully engage in a Customer Experience endeavor.
Solutions need to be catered with a vision toward the “outside in” view of the customer experience, versus the “inside out” view of each siloed unit. In this instance, the solution delivery experience is a bit more abstract. The approach, interactions, communications, and ultimate delivery of the solution have to comprise the overall solution experience for the customer. But as customer needs and priorities are very different, there’s no “one size fits all.”
What You Need to Know: The Ultimate Solution Experience™
Our experience has led to the development of a framework, a set of principles, a methodology to our Solution Delivery approach.
We call it the Ultimate Solution Experience™ (USX).
The focus of the USX delivery methodology is the inclusion of the 3 major aspects:
- People matter in the solution experience. Getting to the bottom of what drives people is the first step.
- Existing personnel are vital to the strategy process/implementation, but often circumnavigating internal politics is best managed by external consultants with an over-arching view of the total strategy
- Your first guess might be to start with the technology, but we’ve learned that technology does not drive the solution experience. The strategy itself must determine how the technology, people, and process are fused to deliver the solution.
- Technology is key, especially the data aspect of the current environment, to correctly assess the landscape and the path forward
- Essential for CX personalization – data utilization/maximization for individualized experiences
- So, think about concepts like esteem, recognition, validation, and promotion. Mechanisms, communications, and processes can be designed to trigger these concepts. People act on these. People are moved by these. Solutions are born from these.
- Sometimes businesses have existing processes that hamper results, which they mistakenly view as a people issue
- The going-forward path/methodology will either build on existing processes or change them altogether
We’ve seen over & over that providing a better solution experience – one that makes people sense, feel, think, act, and ultimately relate to the successful delivery of the solutions provided – just plain works. You want to deliver the best possible solution. You want to be on time, on budget, and on target. You will need to design and align your organization to effectively deliver the Ultimate Solution Experience™.
1. Ask the Right Questions.
Think in terms of what you want your customers to know, believe, feel, or do before, during, and after this experience and how they might relay this experience to others.
Ask yourself and your team these questions to guide your thinking:
- What customer needs and expectations will this experience address?
- How should the experience represent your capabilities?
- What specific business goals are you trying to achieve by building this experience?
- What kinds of experiences do your competitors deliver?
- How will you know that you have succeeded or failed?
- Urgency. Urgency may lead you to deliver a solution without first properly defining the problem, the true business needs, and the measures of success. This is usually the result of a critical need completely outside your control, but one you need to be aware of.
- Insufficient Resources. You may also find you do not have the right resources available or sufficient research capabilities.
However, by using the uSX method, you can quickly determine the basic components of the problem/issue and then develop a solid strategy. An important step in building your uSX strategy is determining the most important need of the consumer or audience and how to address it.
2. Determine Needs vs. Requirements
Needs vs. Requirements
Understanding the difference between a business need and a requirement will allow you to build a solid and executable strategy.
- Needs. Business needs define a problem or opportunity which needs to be addressed to meet business goals and objectives.
- Requirements. Business requirements are the detailed functional components to meet the objective of the business need.
Once the business needs and requirements are clearly defined, prioritization and dependencies are key steps in defining your Ultimate Solution Experience™ strategy. You can then create a logical set of phases for your delivery that will make it easier for you and your stakeholders to benchmark performance.
In the case of new technology and new solutions, organizations often confuse needs with requirements.
3. Define Success
To be successful, you first have to define success. Being on time and on budget are always critical measures for success. But these are expected. Surprisingly, they are rarely accomplished, but none the less they are expected by default and are easily forgotten.
Our goal is to get the customer promoted or bonused based on the success of our solution and delivery experience. We don’t need the particulars of the customer’s compensation package, but what we do need is to fully understand the goals, objectives, and measures of the company, organization, departments, and ultimately our primary contact within our client.
These details can then be mapped to the business needs, and requirements of our solution.