VMware, a software company focused on virtualization and cloud computing, recently faced a classic dilemma that many companies, especially technology-based companies, have encountered. The business model was to develop and sell software packages. These packages were created and sold as products -- traditional product development processes were applied, the portfolio was comprised of 60+ separate products that were sold separately, and the marketing programs and messages were designed to support each of the product categories independently. The reason for this approach can be traced back to its historic roots -- it started out as a single-product company. Through new technology developments, plus a succession of acquisitions, the company quickly expanded its portfolio with no shift in its go-to-market or sales strategy. In effect, VMware was doing what many software companies have always done -- focused on developing a broad portfolio of differentiated products, and then incenting the sales force to go out and sell licenses for all of them.
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Entries in solution selling (4)
B2B companies committed to selling high value solutions often struggle where the rubber meets the road: the individual customer or prospect. Their websites highlight "solutions" and marketers pump out collateral that talks about their customers' business problem, but they have a much tougher time persuading specific customers that they are truly focused on delivering tailored solutions for their unique situations and challenges. The unfortunate reality is that generic "solutions" often need a fair degree of customization if they are going to deliver substantial business value to different customers even in the same industries.
While the main idea of “provocation-based selling” may not be so new, Geoffrey Moore’s recent article has certainly provoked some useful thinking here at Solutions Insights. Steve Hurley has already presented our general perspective that the differences between Moore’s “new” idea and the longstanding tenets of solutions selling are actually minimal at best. Indeed, we have always believed (and taught) that good solutions selling requires just the type of deep customer insight, strong point of view, and executive-level engagement that Moore, et al, claim are the key ingredients of the new approach.
I don't know how many millions B2B companies have invested in "solution selling" programs, but it's an enormous number -- and of course Solutions Insights will happily help your sales team do a better job in this area, too.
But I really wonder if the whole idea of "selling solutions" is a contradiction in terms.