Align the Solution to Customer Priorities

Published: January 5, 2017


When contacted to consult on sales campaigns and opportunities for clients, I often find the account team primarily focused on presenting the offering as well as its features and functions.  But seldom does the team understand and then effectively link these to the actual outcomes the customer was looking to achieve.  This is the classic case of confusing the “drill and drill bits” for the “holes.”  Too many technology sales organizations forget that while customers are paying for the “drill and drill bits,” they are actually buying “holes.”

However, in the case of selling SaaS, the analogy can be taken one step further: the customer is, in a very real sense, contracting out the “drilling of holes.”  How your organization performs on drilling these holes against the customer’s success metrics will determine how much value the customer receives from doing business with you.  And value is the currency of the ongoing relationship.  Did you drill more, bigger, and better holes and do it faster and/or cheaper than the customer’s alternative?

When working with buying organizations, I have found before a customer is prepared to commit to a long-term recurring expense, they must first believe the seller a) understands the outcomes and b) is committed to delivering those outcomes.  But who at the customer cares about the outcomes?  Research shows that more and more IT decisions are being made by the business and that percentage appears to be growing.  Is it purely coincidence that this increase in decision making by the business corresponds with the increase in SaaS and cloud-based offerings?  I don’t know of anyone who has explored the true cause and effect (if there is any), but this certainly has implications for how we should be selling SaaS.

It’s fine to talk about the “drill and drill bits” but only after you understand the “holes” — and can clearly show how your offering will produce the outcomes the customer is looking to achieve.  Selling and promising outcomes is not the end game.  The whole SaaS organization should be focused and obsessed with delivering the outcomes and thus value the customer needs.

The screenshots below show a resource called Value Discovery. This resource is used to create conversations around the desired outcomes of any given customer. The sliders under “IT Performance” can be adjusted to the level of importance, corresponding to each issue:




When clicking on the tab at the top right, titled “Business Value & Effectiveness,” the following screen appears. This capability plots solutions on the graph based on each solution’s current level of effectiveness and their business relevant or importance.


About the Author

Steve Thompson

Steve Thompson

Steve is the founder of Value Lifecycle, a strategy consulting firm, with clientele representing over 100 diverse industries. He has over 33 years of experience in operations, sales, sales management, purchasing, and executive management. After working extensively on both the selling and buying side of the equation, Steve brings a unique perspective to the challenges facing his clients as they define and execute their business strategies. Steve have consulted, trained, and implemented both strategic and tactical buying and selling programs in all major North American market centers, as well as Europe, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa.