Unlocking the Account Potential with Customer Strategy and Solutions
Building solutions-based consulting teams within companies for product selling and account expansions have seen growth over the last few years. The client solutions teams are playing a key role in communicating a product’s “problem-solve” by rightly identifying a customer’s challenges. As products become more and more niche, these teams are going to further help organisations with their strategic selling initiatives.
Hubspot defines solution selling as a sales methodology where a salesperson holistically considers a prospect’s needs, so they can recommend specific products or services that will best accommodate their individual problems and concerns.
But there are methods to ensure that solutions selling strategy does not stop at selling, but is also equally embedded within the day to day account management. This is where client solution teams come into play.
An effective customer solution strategy team would help support pre and post-sales within product companies by effectively understanding what problem a product would help solve for a customer -> solve that problem -> establish and refine the solution -> effectively grow and expand the solution.
Client Solution Teams can have an impact in both pre-sales and post-sales scenarios, let’s try and outline the first stage:
Pre- Sales Solutions Strategy: Client Solution Managers Supporting To Close the Deals.
Solutions Strategy in this stage would involve identifying the need for your product/products within the target customer. This would also involve identifying the pains the customer is facing with the current product they are using. Once the problem is defined, illustrate where your product would fit in and prove to be a solution.
- Understand — the why
As with any other strategic discovery, everything starts with questions. Asking the right questions is the key to understand “why are your products needed”, or “if you can help”. Some of the questions that can help with the discovery are:
- Have you used “this type” of a product before?
- What is that you are looking to solve?
- What are some of the high points and low points of the current solution?
- What are some of the KPIs/Goals for success for a product like ours internally?
These questions would help in building not only the short term strategy towards the first sale but also the long term account growth and product expansion strategies if the customer converts.
- Define-the what
Once “the why”- the root cause of the problem, has been established, the next step in the customer solutions strategy planning is to define what can your product provide to solve the problem. As Hubspot says, it’s about Selling Solutions, Not Products.
At this stage, you should ideally demonstrate your product by connecting some of the value props it has and position it as a probable solution to the problem faced by the client.
At this stage, you should also ideally work towards developing a deeper connection for your products. Don’t dwell on product features, focus on the impact of those features.
The golden rule: Final Impact the Product Features would have > Just the definition of the product features.
- Benchmark- the how
“The what” can be further fine-tuned by developing a KPI and action plan for the customer. This plan would usually highlight:
- The defined KPIs for success
- The Product Features or Tactics that would help to hit those KPIs
- Time Lines, in terms of when you look to hit these KPIs.
That brings us to the 2nd scenario, client solution and strategy teams for growth and retention.
Post Sales Solutions Strategy: Client Solution Managers Supporting To Retain and Grow The Deals.
Customer Solution Strategy in this stage would involve establishing the solution within the client’s organization, refining and troubleshooting the KPIs, and finally growing the products within other departments/markets.
- Establish and Refine
At this stage, the deal is closed. It’s all about ensuring that your products are having a positive impact in terms of solving the initial problem that was set. Solution teams would look to:
- Train the stakeholders on using the product
- Organizing regular catch-ups
- Redefine and Refine KPIs that were set if required
- Understand the feedback and provide constant solution-based strategy support to the managers on account
- Grow and Repeat
This is the “happy stage”.
Clients are happy, your product solved the problem that was defined, your product was also able to hit all the major KPIs. Ideally, this stage is aimed towards understanding if the customer is also facing “other problems” that some of your other products can solve for. This stage would also involve discovering if there are other peers in the organization that could also benefit from your product sets.
Overall the role of the client solutions/client strategy/ customer solutions team is ever-evolving.
As the products become more niche, and as companies evolve the product sets, the solutions team would be required to stay on the top of the market solution, differentiate “their products” from the competition, and successfully support sales teams with strategic initiatives by keeping the “solution at heart”.