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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.