Guest Blog Post: Greg Root
Is Solutions Marketing only for large, global companies?
The short answer is no – small companies, even start-ups, can benefit by applying the concepts and methodologies of Solutions Marketing.
The Challenge: Creating a Solution in the Enterprise Mobility Industry
In the enterprise mobility industry, large device manufacturers find it difficult to develop solutions where their products are enabled by the right software and services. Over the past decade most of them have expanded their distribution channels to include the many independent software vendors (ISVs) whose software is critical to the end customer’s use case. By layering their software on top of the devices, the ISV’s became the solution developers and ultimate providers to the customer. If the manufacturer decided to be part of the solution and develop a solution with one of these ISVs, they would risk alienating all of the other ISVs because of the implied favoritism.
Data Capture Solutions Comes Up with the Right Solution
In late 2011, Data Capture Solutions (DCS), a large mobility reseller in Ellington, CT, transformed its business model away from a product orientation to focus on services and solutions. The company had developed a deep understanding of the challenges retailers face. They developed a new offering concept called the Retail Mobile Manager Solution.
By integrating all of the management, operational, and sales applications onto a single device, DCS’ solution would help retailers
- integrate sales channels,
- reduce “out of stocks” and increase same store sales,
- provide more responsive customer service, and
- increase the overall efficiency of store operations.
Store management could then spend more time on the sales floor and less time in a back office, and sales associates could provide more personalized help to shoppers.
As a small company, DCS didn’t have the in-house resources to build this solution so they began looking for partners.
- The Panasonic Toughpad as the hardware platform
- Trovera Software as the custom retail application developer
- Jadak as the scanner that the Toughpad would integrate with; DCS’ newly integrated hardware, software and services offering would also allow the solution to function as a mobile POS device
The Results – Proof that Size Doesn’t Matter!
DCS demonstrated their new solutions offering at the National Retail Federation trade show in late 2011 and the positive response from many of the large retailers convinced the team that they were on the right track. Development continued through the first quarter of 2012, and in April the DCS and Panasonic retail sales teams were introduced to the solution at a meeting in Newport, RI, and as of June 2012 the solution is still going through refinements. However, DCS did not stop their solution development efforts with Retail Mobile manager. They also worked with another software company and a device manufacturer to develop a “Proof of Delivery” solution in early 2012. Already this year deals on this solution have been concluded with The Mayo Clinic and The Dana Farber Cancer Center (part of the Harvard Medical complex).
Key Success Factors:
- Select the right partners! This may sound obvious but it is critical to partner with at least one company that has undeniable credibility with your target market. In this case both Trovera and Panasonic gave the Retail Mobile Manager the credibility in the large retailer space that DCS needed to reach. Mentioning the names of these companies in the marketing and sales materials got the retailers’ attention.
- Make sure the sales teams of the partner companies are telling the same story and that you have a well-defined sales engagement process. DCS and its partners spent several days together ensuring that they all had the same sales scripts and messaging when a major lead was handed over to DCS.
The major lesson that came out of this experience was that the company that develops the solution should also market it. Panasonic was extremely generous in funding much of the solution development work on Retail Mobile Manager and insisted on doing the launch marketing. The challenge was that their natural tendency was to focus on the product -- theToughpad -- rather than the value of the total solution. Since DCS had a better understanding of the value of the integrated solution, it would have been better if it had taken the lead in developing the go-to-market strategy. Even though DCS was miniscule when compared to Panasonic, it was better positioned to build, market and enable the selling of the new solution.
About the Author: Greg Root has spent 20 years doing services and solutions marketing at Unisys, Cisco, Avaya, and Motorola. As the founder of TS3 Consultants, he helps small and mid-size technology companies transform themselves from being product centric to solutions focused. He can be reached at Greg.Root@TS3consultants.com
Image Credit: topoftheburg.com, senukexrumer.com