If the word “commoditization” makes you shudder, you’re not alone. Nowadays, an underlying goal of almost every seller’s strategy is to establish their business as a unique and critical customer resource—rather than a replaceable commodity. And solution-based selling is a great way to do it.
Instead of traditional feature-function-benefit campaigns, solution-based selling focuses on delivering value-added services that solve problems and meet specific customer needs. Yet how do you provide this extra TLC without a bigger budget and more staff? By using e-commerce as the foundation. Besides making it easier to offer the personal attention, multi-channel communication, and optimized buying experience customers want, e-commerce gives you accurate information about their purchasing behavior and preferences—so you can continually hone your content and approach to boost satisfaction and sales.
How can using e-commerce in solution-based selling benefit your business?
E-commerce capabilities equip you to deliver more of what solution-centric selling is all about, which translates to important benefits for you:
- Makes you less replaceable. Through e-commerce, you become an intrinsic part of your customers’ procurement and payment processes, especially if you integrate. You also gain the resources to add real value—e.g., by helping customers better manage their spend, cut costs, and eliminate errors across the purchase-to-pay cycle—making it harder for another supplier to take your place.
- Strengthens relationships and retention. Solution-based selling requires conversing with customers to learn their pain points, then offering ways to resolve them. But if your transactions are still paper based, customer interactions are more likely to revolve around fixing errors and logistical issues. The automation and efficiency of e-commerce change this equation, freeing you up to focus on more strategic concerns and deliver targeted, high-level benefits that make your customers’ lives easier.
- Gives you the flexibility and resources to meet complex customer needs. Today’s informed and educated buyers expect sellers to accommodate a highly complex, rapidly changing buying environment. A solution-based approach with a well-developed e-commerce offering is exactly what the doctor ordered to help you meet this demand. For example, e-commerce automation lets you communicate with customers more frequently and effectively; create a customized, familiar purchasing experience; and offer time- and money-saving options like self-configuration tools even for high-end products, all of which increase your competitive advantage.
These benefits and more account for the growing popularity of solution-based selling with an e-commerce foundation. Yet old habits die hard, and marshaling the right people, processes, and tools to master a new approach can be challenging. The following best practices can help make the transition smooth and seamless.
In the next blog, we'll share best practices
This post is part of the current issue of Ariba Supply Lines. Ariba Supply Lines is a quarterly newsletter that provides valuable tips, best practices, and the latest thinking to take your online business relationships with your buying customers to the next level.
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