Maximize customer value

Do your clients view you with delight like a kid does a candy store?

Making your customers buying experience more valuable to them is another critical means to grow.

How can we do this, through three themes. Optimize customer value by ignoring all product, service, and company boundaries. Bundle, unbundle, and reconfigure products and services. Partner, collaborate, and co-create with business partners and even customers.

My reading and research has indicated that today, customers are often welcomed as co-creators of value within the very B2B systems that serve them. As a result, sellers are finding multiple opportunities to configure new value propositions by letting customers bundle and unbundle products and services themselves—or by bringing in other partners to offer services you can’t provide.

Your company could tap into new sources of customer value by making your B2B sales:

Configurative.

Most B2B offerings today are more than just a product. They can include everything from design-in services to just-in-time vendor-managed inventory arrangements. That is, products are broadened to include complete customer solutions that lower the total cost of ownership or make using them easier. At the same time, as more encompassing solutions become more common, they turn into one more product in the portfolio. The boundaries between products and solutions are fluid. Consultants call this phenomenon “productized solutions” and “solutionized products.”

Leading medical device manufacturers are following the old IBM,  in offering not only large medical diagnostic products and systems but also user training, service programs, and equipment life cycle management software—in addition to advanced data handling, analytics, and support.

If you are in the food distribution business could you introduce a platform to help your customers run their businesses better. How about providing a powerful mobile point-of-sale solution to connect a restaurant with its patrons, offering everything from menu services (design, costing, ordering) to resultant front of house order taking and payments. Supported by a mobile app for integrated stock taking and management, and a loyalty program for restaurants to use with their customers.  All this is occurring in the US and Europe today.

Collaboratively networked.

The concept of an ecosystem of companies and customers creating value has been a popular but hasn’t come to fruition in the last couple of decades, despite many saying they could do it. Has this prevented you from considering it now?

Apple’s App Store demonstrates how hundreds of thousands of app developers can fill a store that lets users configure their phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops to meet their exact needs.

Such collaborative networking is becoming more common in the B2B space. Global enterprise software providers are an impressive example of how wide ecosystems of external partners can be used to develop distinct solutions on-site in a flexible way.

From my own experience I know that  global enterprise resource planning software provider SAP has built an ecosystem of external partners that can connect with one another through a web portal to develop alliances to meet specific customer challenges and opportunities.

Sales beyond selling.

B2B sales organizations are learning to point out needs their customers did not even know they had. Often that means not just educating the customer, but also orchestrating the different parties and functions within the customer organization to discover and recognize the need.