Continuing our blog series “Ten Steps to Drive a Connected Product Program,” step two uncovers how to identify long term value and vision.
Reduce costs. Improve customer experience. Increase revenue. Year after year, management creates goals and benchmarks around these “Big 3” value dimensions. Some organizations with connected product initiatives focus solely on one of the “Big 3”. We recommend that you speak to all three.
- Begin conversation by asking about goals, which by nature are long term.
- Once goals are identified, turn the conversation to supporting business initiatives.
- Present a connected product program “solution” that maps to a customer’s goals and initiatives.
IoT technology collects more data than any technology before it, yet questions about the impact on value persist. What value does this newly available data bring? How does it help me compete? Actionable data from connected product initiatives will improve business decisions and drive innovation. It will be a factor in your customer’s “Big 3.” To reach this point, value must be identified from the point of view of the customer, and it must cut across the organization.
As described in Step 1, begin by stepping outside of a typical features and benefits conversation, and ask about the big picture, focusing on long-term goals.
Defining value propositions must be a core element of the sales and marketing strategy. In so doing, you move from a tactical sales conversation to a solution sales conversation. Consider asking: “How do you plan to improve your customer experience over the next 12 months?” versus “Have you experienced a system downtime in the past 12 months?”. (“What are your customer experience goals?” is easily replaced with “What are your goals to reduce costs and increase efficiency?” or “What are your revenue goals?”. Remember, the program should map to all three.) Just ask, and listen. Priorities quickly become apparent. Once goals are identified, turn the conversation to your customer’s supporting business initiatives, and demonstrate how you can help. In other words, present a solution that maps to their long-term goals, rather than a fix to a temporary problem.
In advance, leverage your sales and marketing teams to create a balance of answers — this is the key to optimizing value. “Lowering costs”, “improving customer experience”, and “increasing revenue”, are not independent of each other. They can be compatible and incompatible. The ultimate challenge is to find the balance among the three.
Finding the Customer Value: Internal Vs. External
Salespeople with the highest closing rates position themselves as problem solvers. They sell solutions, not features and benefits (Source: Huthwaite, Inc)
The key to successful solution selling lies in identifying your customer’s goals and business needs and building appropriate solutions to drive value. By positioning yourself in a consultative fashion you are more likely to build a trusted, long-term relationship. Ask your executive sponsor to arrange for a meeting with your sales and marketing teams to construct field-inspired examples that highlight cost reduction, improved customer experience, and opportunities to increase revenue. You are looking for the customer to adopt a new way of doing business with you — one that is based on a shared vision and value. If you are successful, you will transform your offering from product and services to a broader solution portfolio. Check out the Gartner report, Prepare to Monetize Data From the Internet of Things for additional steps steps you can take toward monetizing data arising from the IoT.
Selling a solution requires the sales team to focus on developing and communicating the value of a solution rather than the features of a product. Remember, your customer has customers too. Consider this example of value drivers taken from a customer example in the healthcare setting:
Series: Ten Steps to Drive a Connected Product Program
- Step One: Create a Vision
- Step Two: Identify the Value Vision
Retail and Consumer Products
About the Author
Peter has over 25 of years of technical experience in telecommunications and M2M/IOT. He has held technical leadership positions and worked with Fortune 500 clients to design and implement dozens of secure IOT solutions including: usage based insurance, smart connected products and remote service for: Medical, Enterprise storage, and ATM applications, asset tracking, government networks, industrial data analytics. At PTC he is responsible for Thingworx IoT management applications, sales enablement and product management: Peter holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Bridgewater State University, and a Master of Science in Administrative Studies from Boston College.