How to sell novel customer value of data-based solutions?

Servitization has changed value creation for the customer to an interactive and often complicated multi-actor process. Nowadays, information balance has been shifted from the salesperson to the customer, and customers are more knowledgeable and demanding during the sales process. Furthermore, the development of digitalization is increasing the amount of different platform offerings significantly. Still, although at year 2015 already 50% of B2B purchase decisions are already made by millennials, the B2B buyers can be both digitalist and old-school buyers, which complicates the B2B sales process. Defining the value for customer is critical when selling data-based innovations, as technological developments are making them faster commonplace and, thus, the seller (as well as the customer) needs to adapt the changes.

B2B sales forces are challenged by data-based innovations. There is a radical shift in what is sold, how it should be done, and how to make money from it. Even, the salesperson’s capability to influence on the early phases of the customer’s buying process is changing as digitalist buyers’ buying process starts earlier as he/she gets influences while surfing on the web or utilizes AI in searching different solutions and evaluating suppliers. Thus, it is difficult to create value for the customer during the sales process with the traditional approaches, if agreeing a face-to-face meeting is not possible.

Therefore, it is important to analyse to whom the actual value from new data-based innovation is created – who utilises it and is willing to pay for it. As a starting point, the strategic importance of offered solutions and supplier’s physical presence versus digitality of the process need to be considered (Figure 1). 

Figure 1. Data-driven innovations three development dimensions – example of data-based services for optimizing an industrial company’s operations.

“The strategic level of the service” and “digitality” axes describe also how both seller and customer are learning during the process. “The remote presence” axis identifies the global scaling potential and the idea of serving wider clientele also far away. All these aspects influence on the sales process of new data-driven innovations in business-to-business markets as well as the formulating the data business strategy.

Finally, there is an explicit need to change the focus of face-to-face sales meetings. Therefore, the benefits of the existing offering should not be the primary discussion topics in sales meetings. Instead, understanding the customer’s forthcoming business challenges and competitive advantages and proactively enhancing the customer’s success in the future is the key for continuous collaboration. More often, the value creation means making customers work easier, not adding extra tasks to the process or values to the sales arguments.

Based on: Rantala, T, Apilo, T, Palomäki, K, and K. Valkokari (2019),” Selling Data-Based Innovation On Business-to-Business Markets,” Proceedings of The XXX ISPIM INNOVATION CONFERENCE – Celebrating Innovation – 500 Years Since Da Vinci, International Society of Professional Innovation Management ISPIM, 16-19 June 2019, Florence, Italy, 11p.

Interested to hear more?

Welcome to free “Creating new business from data utilization” seminar 10th October 2019 (Seminar is in Finnish).

Ilmainen ”Datasta uutta liiketoimintaa”-seminaari torstaina 10. lokakuuta 2019 Haaga-Helian auditoriossa Pasilassa. Big data big business-hankkeen 2017-2019 ( havaintojen, tulosten ja kokemusten esittelyä. Yritysedustajien ja alan tutkijoiden puheenvuoroja ja keskustelua.

Katso tarkempi ohjelma alta ja ilmoittaudu mukaan heti! Paikkoja rajoitetusti.

Tuija Rantala
Senior Scientist
Katri Valkokari

Katri Valkokari
Research Manager

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