The business world is changing, and the concept of value services is rising in popularity. It is already common knowledge that many traditional product companies are converting the delivery of their offerings to the as-a-service model. With value as a service, customers will focus less on the delivery model and more on the value delivered.
Here’s how to deliver real value and keep up with the changing trend:
Show Outcome Goals Up Front
Effectively delivering value as a service requires a new kind of relationship between vendors and customers, one that is outcome-based, rather than a negotiated, transactional exchange of goods and services for money. It’s more of a partnership in which both parties are empowered to support each other as well as hold each other accountable for achieving measurable results they’ve both agreed upon.
Sign Up For Value
Since value is the ultimate foundation of the relationship, it is a policy at our company not just to sign a contract, but to reach an agreement on specific business success criteria that we will work together to achieve. I believe that this should be an integral part of your marketing and sales process.
From their first engagement with your marketing, prospects should get a sense of the value customers are achieving using your service. Sales discussions should focus not only on features and functions, product demos or even product benefits. Instead, they should start as authentic and open learning sessions about the customer’s business strategy, resources, culture and unmet needs. That’s a key part of what the customer brings to the partnership.
Provide Long-Term Analysis and Metrics
The focus on value doesn’t stop once the deal is inked of course. These success criteria must become the framework for all subsequent interactions. Too often, up front analysis of value is never revisited. I believe strongly that it must be revisited constantly.
The professional services team must be oriented to pick up right where sales left off, mapping the deployment and change management programs to those same success criteria. The product and technology teams must not only be listening to the customer, but digging below the surface of feature requests to understand the deeper needs that could drive long-term value.
Ideally, everyone is moving in lockstep with their eyes fixed straight ahead on those success criteria and how most efficiently to deliver on them. This effort has to be supported by an internal culture of value creation.
Historically, in the face of these frustrations, the customer would beat up on the vendor, and they will probably feel better. But in the value as a service world, that approach is not going to get us to where we need to be – we must stay focused on what we’re trying to do together.
Keeping Value Top of Mind
I believe that it is up to company leadership to make sure value remains front and center in the daily life of the company, and to support the front line employees as they execute on it. As with the customer success criteria for any project, this starts with clearly and frequently communicating the company values.
Your customer stories should feature customers achieving value. Your employees of quarter should be consistently rewarded for exemplify these values, as voted by their colleagues. Every employee should be evaluated on how well they execute on these values within the context of their role.
That takes maturity, diplomacy and the knowledge that you have the support of the organization behind you. It’s not always as direct and causal as in that situation, but I see people waking up to the culture of value all the time.
When the customer asks for something employees are acculturated to ask, not why, but, “How does that support what we’re trying to achieve?” They ask clarifying questions. They dig deeper and map everything to what they are trying to achieve together. They listen and build trust and get customers to problem solve together with them.
Delivering Value as a Service puts a greater burden of responsibility on employees. That’s why they need a strong culture supporting them. The skills are easy to learn, once you’ve made the mind shift.