Moving from product-centered to solution-centered selling is still a tough transition for many companies. Early research (1) into solutions selling showed that many companies over-estimated the value of targeting their installed-base because that base didn’t necessarily possess the strategic mindset to buy solutions.

In my experience, this still happen today. Of course it does. After all, it’s so much more comfortable to approach existing customers and seek access to the strategic decision makers in these accounts. Unfortunately, those of your customers who have bought products from you in the past may very well not be the ones that will buy solutions from you in the future. Not to mention that the sales people that successfully sold products in the past may very likely not be the ones to successfully sell solutions in the future.

The solution (no pun intended) is not easily available. If it were, 3 out of 4 companies wouldn’t fail in the transition from product to solution. Those that succeed reap the benefits: achieving competitive advantage as a consequence of creating valuable solutions that are difficult to imitate for competitors.

1: Dunn, Friar and Thomas: an approach to selling high-tech solutions, Industrial Marketing Management 20, 149-159 (1991)