January 25, 2021

How to communicate a solution offering

Written by Christophe Fajs, Goedele Pyck and Anne Boyle

Imagine your company is transitioning from offering products to solutions. You and your core team may understand the value of this transition, but do your employees and customers? We'll share how to devise an internal and external communication plan to get employee buy-in and maintain customer trust.

This article is part of a series to help companies transition from a product to solution offering. If you’re new to solution offerings, we recommend reading the first article of our series.

Sharing the solution offering internally

Evolving from a product to a solution company is a significant change for any organisation. Developing an internal communication plan can help you share the value of this change and its impact on the company.

We believe one of the best ways to communicate the solution offering is to do it alongside the pilot project. Using a pilot project to develop your solution offering is beneficial for two reasons:

  1. It allows you to test your offering before it hits the market
  2. It gives you time to share the value of your offering with employees

How to build an internal communication plan

Employees should know about a pilot project before it launches. Sharing the pilot project is a great way to introduce the solution offering and gain first reactions from employees. When you understand general employee sentiment, you can then create a communication plan that addresses fears and provides support. 

During the pilot project, you and your core team can provide employees with periodic updates about how the project’s progressing. As you share project updates, try to think about the information employees need the most. These updates can be knowledge sharing moments but also a chance to explain how the offering will impact employees.

You should continue to monitor the company sentiment throughout the pilot project and adjust the internal communication plan accordingly.

Open the door for ideas & input

Each phase of the pilot project requires input from the right experts. At some point, you'll need to invite R&D, customer researchers or other stakeholders to support your work. Your internal communication can also help you define:

  1. Who needs to be involved
  2. What are their responsibilities
  3. How you plan to keep them updated about the project.

We also recommend inviting employees not affiliated with the project to contribute their ideas or opinions. Employees will appreciate the inclusivity, and it may even increase the likelihood that they'll support the project.

This image shows how solution offerings need employee buy-in and input.

Plan for additional tools & training

Working with solutions requires different skills than working with products. During the pilot project, you should monitor employees’ current skills and look for any knowledge gaps.

Based on this insight, the company may need to invest in new tools and training, reorganise teams or recruit people. It’s essential to be transparent about this process with your current employees and discuss how they see their future roles.

Sharing the solution offering externally

Devising an external communication plan ensures all internal stakeholders, no matter the department, are clear about:

  1. What’s the solution offering
  2. How to communicate the solution offering

Determine what to communicate about the solution

Before the team starts advertising and selling the solution offering, it’s important to reexamine the value proposition. The value proposition explains the value your company and the offering will bring to customers.

There are different ways you can refine the value proposition: 

  • Create a separate value proposition for the solution offering
  • Add on to the existing product value proposition 
  • Develop a brand-new value proposition for both the product and solution offering

How you approach the value proposition also depends on how your company defines a solution offering currently. We recommend using a product vs solution spectrum to see where your company lies. After determining where your company is starting from, you can then create a realistic value proposition to support communication materials.

This graph shows how companies evolve from a product to solution offering.
This spectrum shows how companies evolve from a product to true solution offering.

How to communicate the solution offering to customers

When you know what you're going to say, then it’s time to organise how you’re going to reach your audience. Use these steps to develop communication materials for current and potential customers.

  1. Know your audience

Researching your audience is a foundational best practice. How your customers make decisions, who influences them and how open your customers are to a new solution are some aspects you should look into.

2. Update the website

Your research will also help you understand the buyer journey and how to communicate the solution on your website. The solution could appear next to your product offer or on a separate webpage depending on your value proposition.

3. Create campaigns & content

Advertising for a solution offering focuses less on selling a product and more on building long-term relationships with customers. Developing personalised content tailored to customers' needs and interests can increase interest and trust in your company's solution offering.

Data-driven content can also help you communicate with prospective customers based on their needs or the stage they're currently in the decision-making process. This content can then generate valuable leads to start a new long-term solution for a customer.


Gain a competitive lead with Springbok
Whether your company is looking to learn more about solution offerings or make a gradual transition from products to solutions, our experts are here to help. From building a pilot project to refining a value proposition to offering strategic advice — let us know how we can support you.

Interested in switching to a solution based offering? let's talk.

September 30, 2020

Tips to become a solution company

Written by Christophe Fajs, Goedele Pyck and Anne Boyle

More personalised customer experiences, increased brand loyalty and a strategic competitive edge are what a company could gain by switching from a product to solution offering. But where does a company even begin? We've rounded up a few useful tips to help your company start its journey.

This article is part of a series to help companies transition from a product to solution offering. If you’re new to solution offerings, we recommend reading the first article of our series.

First, define your solution offering

Before you start, it’s essential to know where your company stands now. In reality, most companies today aren’t exclusively product or solution — but fall on a spectrum between the two. Start by defining a realistic offering that aligns with your business, customers, staff and the bottom line.

This image shows the spectrum between a pure product vs solution company.
Try using a product vs solution offering spectrum to see where your company resides.

After defining your company's positioning, you then need to find the right combination of products and solutions to enhance the current offering.

For example, your company could choose to remain product-based and advertise products and services together to avoid too much organisational change. Or you could choose to develop solutions per customer industry and make a full organisational transformation toward integrated solutions.

If your company is leaning more toward a solution offering, but wants to avoid too much disruption, then a pilot project may be the way to go.

TIP 1
Start with a pilot project
Organising a pilot project alongside a product offering allows you to find what works best for your company without affecting its current structure or operations.

How to create a successful pilot project

All great solution companies started from somewhere, and a pilot project is a great way to test your potential offering before launching it in the market. Follow these four steps to get your pilot project off the ground.

  1. Develop the solution 
    Gather information and expectations of the solution offering from employees in the company and current/potential customers. Based on this information, R&D can start developing a solution. Make sure to plan in moments for customer input and feedback during the development phase.
  1. Inform and create a demand for the solution 
    After developing the pilot solution, it's time to inform and convince existing and new customers about the new offering through marketing and sales.
  1. Sell the solution
    Rely on your finance and legal teams to help you translate your offering's value into tangible contracts and profit. The goal is to create a long-term contract and pricing plan based on the value your solution offering will bring to customers.
  1. Deliver the solution
    After selling the solution, your team must then measure whether the offering was successful. Your company should check with customers to understand if the solution meets their needs and gather any feedback for improvement.
This image shows how a solution company may approach a pilot project.
The phases of a pilot solution project.

Compared to a product approach, the pilot process doesn’t stop after the sale and delivery of a solution. Instead, your company should see moment as the beginning of a long-term relationship with the customer. Ideally, your company should continue to work with your customers to refine and enhance the solution.

Having the right team on board can make a world of difference to ensure this partnership gets the attention it deserves. 

TIP 2
Create a core team

We recommend organising a dedicated team to work on the pilot project that’s separate from the current product team. The core team will start up the project, monitor its progress and call in experts when necessary. Keep in mind, selecting the right profiles is crucial. Try to choose people who can think beyond product boundaries and attract new people with a solution experience.

Become a solution-minded company

Transitioning to product to solution offerings can have a significant impact on your company and employees. 

But how much of an impact can it have?

  • Sales will no longer sell one clearly defined product, but a whole solution that includes multiple integrated products and services.
  • R&D no longer develops products and services on its own, but co-creates the solution with customers.
  • Finance and legal teams need to shift their thinking to long-term contracts and value-based pricing. 
  • Marketing can no longer make a promotional advertisement for a product; the team needs to build and maintain relationships with customers.

Some companies that switch from product to solution offerings make the mistake of trying to change everything at once or impose a top-down change in their organisation. Both approaches are doomed to fail. 

The most successful transitions happen incrementally. With a pilot project and dedicated core team, the entire organisation doesn't have to change overnight. But the core team must also think carefully about how to get the rest of the company’s buy-in from the start. 

TIP 3
Create an internal communication plan
The most successful communication plans ensure employees are well informed and are aware of the impact the solution may have on their daily work.

A great way to get employee buy-in is by asking them for consistent feedback or input. These conversations are crucial to ensure employees feels part of the project and that their opinions matter.


Gain a competitive lead with Springbok
Whether your company is looking to learn more about solution offerings or make a gradual transition from products to solutions, our experts are here to help. From building a pilot project to refining a value proposition to offering strategic advice — let us know how we can support you.

Interested in switching to a solution based offering? let's talk.

September 30, 2020

The advantages of shifting to a solution offering

Written by Christophe Fajs, Goedele Pyck and Anne Boyle

We’ve noticed many companies over the years are transitioning from product to solution offerings. Instead of selling cars, electricity and mobile phones, companies are now specialising in personal mobility, creating comfortable homes and connecting friends and families. These solution offerings put customers first, and as a result, are creating exceptional customer experiences. 

Whether your company is thinking about adopting solutions or curious to learn about the differences between products and solutions, we’re sharing our experience and knowledge to help you embark on a path to success

But first, it may be helpful to define what defines a solution company.

Companies that embrace solution offerings

Solution companies have four essential characteristics:

  1. Successful long-term relationships 
    Solution companies have their sights set on the future. Instead of a one-off contract with one product exchange, these companies look for opportunities to build long-term trust with their customers.
  1. Integration of goods, services and knowledge 
    Product companies offer their products separately, which means it's up to the customer to figure out which product is right for them. Solution companies already integrate their products and knowledge into one hyper-relevant solution tailored to their customers' wishes.
  1. Tailor-made solution offering(s)
    Product companies begin with building an excellent product and then searching for customers that need that product. Solution companies start with researching the needs of their target audience and then creating a solution for them.
  1. Prioritise co-creation
    The companies that offer the best solutions tend to involve their customers in the creation process. Including customer insight in the early stages brings even more value to the final solution.
This graph shows the difference between a product vs solution company.
The differences between a product vs solution company.

In the end, solution offerings are a bit of a spectrum… 

Most companies are not entirely product or solution-based but fall somewhere in-between. 

There's a wide range of possibilities between a pure product or solution-based approach. Some companies occasionally sell their products and services together while others choose to bundle their products and services and market them as one solution. Others create a solution offering tailored to a specific client industry's needs, while a few companies co-create an independent solution to meet different customer needs. Every company has the option to select and develop an offering that works best for them. 

This graph shows how companies evolve from a product to solution offering.
This spectrum shows how companies evolve from a product to true solution offering.

The advantages of a solution offering

What can your company gain by adopting a solution offering? We believe there are six significant benefits companies earn in the short and long term. 

  • Switching barriers 
    Creating a solution offering tailored to customer needs decreases the likelihood that they'll switch to another company.
  • Stronger customer relationships
    Companies that co-create with their customers show they want to know their customers inside and out — which goes a long way to building relationships and brand loyalty.
  • Business opportunities with existing clients
    Cross-selling and upselling become much easier when a company can offer not one product, but several products and services in one solution.
  • Stand out from the competition 
    Co-creating a tailor-made solutions for customers sets a company apart from its competitors.
  • Attract new customers
    Solution marketing can attract a whole new type of customer that's looking for not one product but a total solution.
  • Future-proof company
    Integrating different products and services into a single solution makes it easier for clients to buy a company’s current and future products and secure future business opportunities.

Gain a competitive lead with Springbok
Whether your company is looking to learn more about solution offerings or make a gradual transition from products to solutions, our experts are here to help. From building a pilot project to refining a value proposition to offering strategic advice — let us know how we can support you.

Interested in switching to a solution based offering? let's talk.

Got a project?

We’re more about the walk than talk, but if you have an idea for your customer experience project — we want to hear it!

springboklogo

©2021 Springbok. All rights reserved.