Solution Management Definition

Holistic revenue performance series III: Solution management

Sustainable revenue performance ensures your organization is meeting its goals and finding its success not just here and now but into the future. Yet achieving profitable revenue year after year is no simple task. There is no golden egg solution. You will time and again meet internal and external challenges.

Yet with a well-oiled revenue engine, any challenges you come up against will be mitigated or side-stepped altogether.

At Mereo, we have developed a unique approach to revenue performance that leverages the inherently interdependent operational disciplines of demand progression, solution marketing, solution management, sales operations and sales enablement.

We have touched on demand generation and solution marketing the past couple weeks. This week in the holistic revenue performance series, we will dive into solution management and learn the greatest pitfalls affecting B2B organizations, how to overcome these and how this piece of the revenue performance Blueprint™ will help you win an unfair share™ of the market.

Bringing products and services to market that drive profitable revenue

Common Solution Management Pitfalls

A solution management strategy is the backbone of your organization’s sustainability. Without a valuable solution coming to market consistently — be that a product, service, SaaS, bundles, etc. — you have nothing of which to serve your buyer. And over time, your buyers’ needs you first set out to alleviate change. Technology makes new methods possible and others irrelevant. New problems crop up for your target audience. A past problem is wiped out.

Just because they bought from you once does not mean they will do so again. According to LoSasso research, 34% of B2B buyers say their purchase decisions are driven most by features, while 27% say price and only 39% say brand. Likewise, CSO Insights has found that your buyers want to see you innovating and keeping a pulse on the future: 46% of B2B buyers want to hear new ideas at the beginning of a sales conversation.

A solution management strategy needs to take target buyers’ greatest needs — their greatest unsolved pains — as input, to then output to the world an innovative answer. This is all common sense. But first, your organization must overcome common solution management pains.

A Product Management Mindset

“Product” is too narrow a focus and often inhibits the understanding of the real opportunity, which is to focus on offering a solution to the market. Solution management is different from product management in that its inherent focus is broader and that its processes engage a wider audience. Where product management focuses on the attributes, roadmap and pricing of a specific product, solution management focuses more broadly on solving a problem — which includes through the means of the product itself, its delivery, packaging, service and support, and how it interacts with other solution components. Too often leadership at B2B organizations are stuck on product, though, and are missing the bigger picture and grander opportunities altogether.

Internal Validation Only

A solution management strategy requires your leadership team to juggle a dozen different variables that could affect its outcome. From market analysis, to competitive analysis, to future forecasts, and specific customer needs and feedback, a lot can successfully inform your solution decisions. Yet, many B2B organizations keep their sights focused inwardly. They ask “What are we good at developing?” rather than “What problems is my buyer still facing that no one has been able to solve?” They see an achievement of a competitor and ask “How can we do that better than them?” rather than “Why is our competitor moving on to something different? How did their solution fail to fully serve the market?” They go by the command of the leadership rather than the calls for needs and wants from the buyer. Little to no external validation rarely garners positive results.

Lack of Internal Competencies

Even if you look to your target B2B buying audience and learn their needs — even if you see a gap in the market, an opportunity for your business to create a solution and deliver it effectively, your leadership team must be honest with itself on follow-through. What is your company good at making, delivering, supporting? For example, are you a software provider that is looking to change to a subscription-based model, but you do not have the internal staff who can support this yet? If you do not have the internal capabilities and competencies, it is likely you have many viable external options to reach your solution goal. However, you must plan for this early on and engage external parties for your solution management strategy to hit the market effectively and stay abreast successfully. This is not the college cram session. This must be preconceived and intentional every step of the way.

No Go-to-Market Due Diligence

Many organizations lack the formal due diligence at the start of a solution management process. At Mereo, we believe there are essential internal inputs that will impact your solution management strategy. Between competitive information, win/loss analysis, businesses strategy and more, assessing every internal input can set you up for better success. Not every input needs to be positive. But by going through a due diligence process from the start, you can avoid or mitigate the challenges you can foresee.

Solution Management Strategies to Win

solution management definition

While there are a number of issues that arise within an organization that hinder successful solution management, there are also tried and true solutions.

Alignment. Alignment. Alignment. Alignment.

For a solution to be successful, there must be alignment across four planes within the organization: business, solution strategy, financial and go-to-market. Ideally folks from product management, finance, development and R&D, marketing, sales and service will have a seat at the table. Never should marketing have something new in the works with a launch date attached that product management and R&D are unaware of and unable to meet. This is all-hands-on-deck.

This type of cross-organizational and cross-departmental alignment requires clear and regular communications, a culture of transparency and openness, and formalized solution materials such as a roadmap and messaging framework that align everyone on the same game plan.

External Inputs: Client Advisory Boards (CABs)

While certainly not the only source of input, inviting customers input into your solution strategy and the associated prioritization of resources is sound and proven to work. Engaging customers and prospects early — and often — in solution roadmap discussions leads to:

  • Greater confidence in resource investments
  • Easier garnering of early adopters
  • Lighthouse references
  • An accelerated market launch

Leverage your own Client Advisory Boards (CABs) and the Mereo Decision Maker Network™ to bring in qualified executives from your target buying audiences. With these prospects at the table, they can tell you firsthand their goals, their greatest pains, and their feedback on your solutions in development and how you are presenting them. This is an invaluable step in a solution management strategy — and while it takes extra effort, it is a vital component to ensuring you are building out your solution, its packaging, its pricing, its delivery, its messaging and all else as effectively as possible.

Analyst / Influencer Insights and Market Research

Every successful sales organization must keep a pulse on the market. Turn to reputable resources such as Gartner, Forrester and more to keep up with the current state of things and — most importantly — pay attention to where the market, competitors and buyers are headed.

Likewise, leadership must keep tabs on the sales pulse. What are buyers and clients asking of your salespeople? What feedback are they receiving in-person? Using these inputs will help to create solutions and value messaging that better resonates with buyers.

Real Results Realized

Axway, a €300.0 million publicly-traded information technology organization with dual headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, and Paris, France, was transforming from a product provider to a subscription-based solution model. In this intense, tumultuous process, opportunities for improvement within its solution management strategy and following go-to-market processes became apparent.

Learn how they rallied together for organizational alignment and came through the other side with a formal and successful go-to-market strategy with our support.