February 13 by Eric Dreshfield
In a recent post, we discussed how companies need to innovate to stay competitive. We emphasized that the key to successful business transformation meant going digital and selling Anything-as-a-Service (XaaS). It’s a model that’s working well in the consumer services world – just look at services like Uber or Apple Music. They epitomize the concepts of speed and convenience. B2B Enterprises are now realizing there is great value in providing services to their customers in much the same manner. Philips sells medical devices as a service, and Lenovo is selling PCs as a service.
What is it that these successful companies are doing to drive sales in the digital service economy?
What the Experts Say
We asked several of today’s most respected sellers for advice on strategies for success in the digital services economy. Here’s what they had to say:
“Speed and simplicity is the mantra for today’s business environment. You need to make it as simple as possible for the customer to buy. Since customers are only concerned with their needs, every element of the old school “these are all of our capabilities” must be retired. Focus on the capabilities that solve the customer’s problems.” – Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter.
“Making the sale is the tip of the iceberg. For long term success, you must make customers successful by ensuring they fully adopt and use the software to its fullest. The faster the customer is up, running, and integrating the product in to their regular workflows, the more likely you are to get the renewal.” – Sally Duby, The Bridge Group, Inc.
“Go for the ‘Alumni Strategy.’ If someone has been a customer of yours once, he or she is more likely to become a customer again after moving on to a new company. It’s the perfect time to reach out and have another conversation about how you can help them achieve their goals in their new role. The alumni strategy doesn’t just work for company changes – it’s also effective they shift from one division to another, like from North America or Europe in a geographical expansion.” – Craig Elias, SHiFT Selling, Inc.
Make the Complex Simple & Build Customer Loyalty
“Because we sell complex people and data driven services and solutions, our sales process is very relationship-driven. We find the most success marketing to the private professional networks of our executive team, as well as through referrals and recommendations of the execs we’ve served over the years. Finding success through this route requires a robust database of key contacts and well documented meeting summaries.” – Greg McLaughlin, V2 Strategic Advisors.
“In the services economy, it’s more about selling an intangible or selling true business value. This means that the initial sale is driven by business reality as opposed to anything that has to do with the actual product. Those who can sell and deliver on business concepts will be successful because the purchase decision is ultimately made based on outputs, not the product.” – Tibor Shanto, Renbor Sales Solutions, Inc.
“Secure customer loyalty. However, this easier said that done as securing customer loyalty is increasingly difficult. People wrongly consider customer satisfaction synonymous with customer loyalty. A positive Net Promoter Score does not equal loyalty. Loyalty is an emotional connection to a person or a brand that develops based on their overall experience organization. As we we move further into the services economy – which is dependent on long-term, recurring relationships – enterprises must focus on creating the type of deep, emotional connections that cause a person to stay.” – Tony J. Hughes, RSVPselling Pty Ltd.
Experts agree that at the core of the services economy is the customer’s buying experience and, in many cases, the buying experience is just as important, or even more so, than procuring the product itself. A positive buying experience can establish customer loyalty and drive repeat business while a negative buying experience loses it. This is especially true the more complex the products are.