Sales driven Solution Design

Application outsourcing is a market rife with high competition. To move ahead of the competition, solutions have to drill exactly to the needs of clients, and it is important to make the client aware of this too. For this solution architects have to be specific and relay their requirements into one sentence / one claim. This claim has to be used intensively as a guideline.

Solution design is the science of interpreting a client’s needs and applying into a tailor made service. Ideally, this service is not completely tailored, rather structured like Lego — there are different pieces and the solution architect is responsible for sticking these pieces together to form a masterpiece which fits perfectly to the client’s needs and desires. To drive a solution from a sales perspective, or better still from a client’s perspective, the buying center has to be analysed.

Different stakeholders have different needs. The high level perspective is that the purchasing department would like to have everything as cost effectively as possible; business departments need the solution fast, and IT department is looking for high quality. This trinity is a dilemma, because if something is cheap, normally it cannot also be of a high quality. If something has high quality, it needs it’s time to be produced. To place your service in the middle can be a temporary solution but normally things are not that simple. Real buyer values are more different and can include risk takeover, transparence, innovations, lake of resources or skills. Due to this complexity and ambivalent buyer values, it’s inevitable to analyse the buying position and figure out who is really taking the decision and who (or what) is influencing the buyer. The outcome revolves around 3–5 terms on which the solution is focusing. This process should be carried out by the sales team.

Mapping the value proposition to solution components to focus the solution on what’s really important.

It is at this point that solution design commences. The service which has to be designed and later built up is one aspect — to give the client the feeling and confidence to buy exactly, but the perfectly fitted service is another facet altogether. The basic service cornerstones are obvious, but each stone has to be adjusted on the value proposition. If innovations is one of the main drivers, it is important to remember it as such. Of course is offshoring is a possibility to reduce the labor arbitrage, it also is a center for innovations. So it is key to boost whichever aspect is needed.

This mapping is just the start — value proposition and solution parameters are the central theme, the motif for the proposal. This leads us to the general idea of a proposal: it is short — often as short as possible. Nobody enjoys reading a 300 page slide deck or word document. If all aspects a company can offer are written, it can be perceived as uncertain. It is important to solely write down only what’s important, and these are the aspects which are in line with your value proposition.

Focus on complex and critical topics, then all will know that you are capable of handling ‘the easy stuff’.

The second aspect is that you should only write about the complex, difficult or critical topics. in order to appeal as ‘mature’. Stick to your value proposition and the solution parameters and explain only the really difficult aspects. For example, you need not extensively explain how great your team are with solving standard tickets. The client has to consider you in a proposal, because ultimately they already believe that you can handle it. It is better to use the space to explain how you solve highly complex tickets with expected business impact. Always position yourself in the most challenging areas.

Use a memorable claim, which shows the buyer why they should prefer yourproposal.

Once your proposal has been drawn up, as a Word or PowerPoint document, your work is not done. Most people are simply reading the headline and captions beneath and spending more time on graphics used. Each headline should clearly address one value proposition. If “Innovation” is key for your client, then use the word intensively!

If your client is spending a lot of money to buy a service, he will be sure that the service is delivering what is expected. If this is “Innovation” then use that specific word! Also, use the captions to transport your message. If a graphic is not supporting your values then use one that will!

The next aspect is the claim itself. For each company it’s an important feature. A claim is guiding the client and is supporting, to convince them that they can make the right decision. For example, the news portal ‘golem.de’ makes the claim “IT news for pros”. So it’s absolutely clear from the outset what can be expected. The target group is defined as well as the service offered. Talk about your claim from the beginning. Use your claim whenever possible: for example on your first page as a teaser; and / or on each slide at the bottom center.

Sales driven solution design is above all a structured approach. It is the way to fulfill the client’s needs with a reduced proposal, principally on the solution components which are really required. It starts with working closely with the client and interpreting their requirements into a solution. The aim is to give the buying center the clear message that the proposal is fulfilling needs without any misunderstanding.

Are you using regularly claims in your proposal? How do you think of the claim? Is it done with the aid of creative colleagues? Please leave a comment and share the article!

About the author: Florian Hoeppner is located in Munich, Germany and a full time Application Outsourcing Solution Architect for Financial Services. He has over 8 years experiences in consulting — Transition, Delivery, CIO Advisory mainly with the topics IT Sourcing-, IT Shoring-Strategy and Supplier Consolidations. Additionally he has around 4 years experience in the area of Financial Services and as entrepreneur with a FinTech Start-Up.

Twitter: @FlorianHoeppner

Articles and comments are my own views and do not represent the views of my employer, Accenture.