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Why you need to be able to sell solutions…

My colleague Inge recently posted a brief overview of Selling packages and solutions – what’s the value to you? in her blog.

In a nutshell, Solution Selling is the ability to bundle products, one time and recurring services, financing, warranties, and anything else you sell as a single offer, usually for a promotional price.  One bill for the offer is expected and fulfillment of all components should be coordinated. 

Being able to do this is critical.  Consumers demand “one-stop-shops” for everything.  I’m no exception.  For example, when shopping for a new dishwasher, I’m only going to places that will install it for me and arrange service down the line.  Want me to switch to your phone company?  You better be able to give me Internet and Satellite TV as well (even if these come from your partners).  And, one bill, one number to call for help.  … Oh yeah, I forgot, I need to be able to browse for the right offers, schedule my installation, place my order, and confirm it all using any channel I want (phone, online, at a store, etc.).

Though my personal examples are B2C… this applies to the B2B world as well.  Add a merger or acquisition to any company (which is quite common nowadays) and overnight that company must be able to manage orders for products and services that it did not sell before – and customers from both companies will expect more bundle offers and higher service levels from the merged company. 

But this challenge has been around a long time and there must be a simple way to solve it, right?  Unfortunately no.  Why?  Mainly because the products and services that compose these “solutions” often come from different sources, are probably defined and stored in different legacy systems, and definitely have little, if any, linkage to each other.  It’s a major dilemma and is causing problems. 

For example, as a result of multiple disconnected systems, Yankee Research estimates that the order fallout rate in communications industries alone is around 40%.  Research also shows that not being able to coordinate bundle fulfillment increases support costs, decreases revenue opportunity, and has a significant negative impact on customer experience.  Ouch. 

To overcome these operational challenges, companies that want to sell “solutions” (which in the near future  – due to growing competition and globalization – will be almost every company) need a robust order management system that can

–  Capture bundle orders
–  Decompose these bundle into individual provisioning and billing orders
–  Orchestrate activities within and across individual orders
–  Transform the sales order with the appropriate billing and provisioning codes
–  Consolidate invoicing across multiple billing systems for the various services in a bundle

An open order management framework based on SAP’s Suite can help.  Stay tuned to my blog to learn how….

1 Comment
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  • This is a real dilemma - and I am excited to watch your next blog with details.

    Biggest question in my mind is whether a solution can work without migrating data (customer, product, pricing etc) from several systems to one?

    To generate one sales order and one bill in SAP, based on data physically sitting in different SAP or non-SAP systems will be a powerful game changing solution. If we have time and resources to migrate data into one system, then there is nothing new - we can use existing functionality in SAP to do solution selling somehow.