While B2B product management teams around the globe are convening to refresh their solution strategy for the next two to five years, most will never actually succeed. In fact, according to Harvard Business Review, each year more than 30,000 new products are launched — and a whopping 95% of them fail (2019).
Why? A major lack of validation. Most companies fail to ensure they can realistically achieve what they set out to do.
In today’s competitive environment, simply having a solution strategy is no longer enough. Before you engage resources and release funds, your teams must take some simple but vital steps toward validating your strategy.
- How do you avoid putting your business’ fortunes into a strategy that the organization lacks the capability to execute successfully?
- How can you check the alignment of your solution strategy against the financial, business and go-to-market strategies also in the works?
- How can you take into consideration both customer- and market-driven inputs for a balanced approach?
- How do you avoid a failure like the Airbus 380, where the strategy for a jumbo airliner may have been sound if the organization could have overcome its unaligned, disjointed organizational dynamics and executed key parts of the plan effectively?
Imagine in our current market context: Companies have suddenly needed to interact virtually — and many selling organizations may face the requirement to deliver solutions differently. With that comes a number of questions to validate a new solution delivery system: Does your technological infrastructure and skillset support these initiatives? Does the customer base understand the solutions and have a desire to adopt their new delivery? Is there a system to track usage and billing? Will sales and support teams be prepared?
Solution strategy validation may seem like common sense, but it is not common practice. Additionally, there are key validation factors that matter more than others. Read on for proven, expert validation strategies.
Validation as Investment Confidence
Your team has a handful of options for a formal solution strategy validation plan.
OPTION 1: QUICK CAPABILITY + ALIGNMENT CHECK POINTS
A simple high-level checklist can be configured to match the needs of your business. This checklist would vary business to business, but a typical checklist might include:
- Financial Benefit in 202x: The potential revenue and margin contribution of the capability are significant enough to justify this level of investment by the company.
- Ability to Deliver: Adjacent products that are part of the solution are technologically proven and well-integrated, and the company and/or partners have the resources/qualified staff to deliver on the customer promise.
- Strategic Importance to the Customer: The solution addresses the strategic business imperative or initiative of the customer.
- Short-term Financial Benefits to the Customer: Your customer has budget and can achieve financial benefits in a relatively short time frame (1-3 years).
- Ability of Sales and Channel Partners to Sell the Solution: The value messaging and domain knowledge is straightforward and clear enough for the sales team to effectively sell the offering with proper training and tools.
- Market Impact: The offering has the potential to reposition the company in the marketplace and/or change the competitive landscape. Plus, it can be supported by a compelling integrated marketing campaign.
OPTION 2: ORGANIZATIONAL CAPABILITIES TO EXECUTE PER OPPORTUNITY RATING CHART
Another approach to solution strategy validation is to simply rate the organizational capabilities to execute the solution strategy relative to the various strategic opportunities.
With this chart, your leadership team will be able to better visualize and pinpoint your organization’s current strengths and potential weaknesses in the context of key aspects of each solution strategy opportunity. Once your team assesses these, they can more strategically focus on prioritizing the most promising opportunities — and work on resolving issues with secondary opportunities for the future.
Validation as a Roadmap
Taking a moment to honestly answer these questions and to assess strategic options in the context of these validation points can help improve your confidence in your investment decisions — putting your organization on the path to wisely using its time, resources and money to serve some real value to its customers, and to realize sustainable revenue performance in the long run.
In the case of Trillium Software, the leadership engaged Mereo’s expertise to help develop and validate their solution strategy. With Mereo’s comprehensive tools, the team was able to define a strategy and align a time-phased roadmap for the next few years by identifying opportunities they could successfully deliver here and now. Beyond that, the team also identified opportunities for future investment of resources and skill development that were supported by market demand and significant customer impact.
Validation as Expert Third-Party Advisors
While the solution validation checklist and opportunity chart will put your teams on the right path toward realistic and high-potential solution successes, the true game-changer in validation comes from outside sources.
If you do not believe me, I will direct you to the Airbus 380 case study once more. A third-party expert can help you avoid office politics, individual biases and oversights. And a third-party partner like Mereo takes validation a step further with our Decision Maker Network™. This network represents a vast, diverse group of hundreds of business leaders across industries that can be engaged for your specific questions and concerns.
Is your solution strategy for the next few years in the works? Let’s make it unstoppable.