In the previous entry, we discussed solution development as a process and shed some light on the intricacies needed to create a winning portfolio. Now let’s look at the design of the portfolio itself:
Think about the portfolio from a holistic point of view. What are we offering that is truly important to the executives we need to have intimacy with (above the safety line™), what offerings can we bring to bear that directly pull through our products or outsourcing, and what large offerings can we bring to bear that give us critical mass in our business and in our accounts. It is important to strive to be as complete as possible, and this effort might send you back to a Market Landscape effort. This point of view will drive much of the portfolio work you will do (think product R&D). It is important to get it right because it is expensive to be wrong – in real money, market opportunity, and momentum of journey. Also, remember you will not be creating all these Service Chains™ at the same time, so you do not need to hinder your broad thinking. The mistakes made at this stage are either slipping into wanting to do things that you like (because you’re good at it) but do not meet the market opportunities or letting the organization (which often does not really truly understand the market needs) deflate the portfolio.
The portfolio strategy can now be validated with the market. This includes discussing the importance of the Ideas with key potential buyers. This usually not only sharpens the portfolio and assists with prioritizing which Service Chains™ will be early offers, but also begins the process of creating meaningful messages that will be needed when the offers are taken to market.
The next activity is to prioritize which Service Chains™ will be created first. This is an important decision. It not only drives resource allocations (investment), but also drives the business model and financial plans. You cannot go to market without something Above the Line of Safety™, and you cannot go to market without something that pulls through your other products and services. You must be able to put a meaningful group of Service Chains™ in the market at the same time (within a reasonable time of each other -weeks/months). Further, as you look at the account life-cycles, you must decide which Service Chains™ you lead with and which ones are introduced as you have intimacy built with the client.
Let’s develop the solutions. In other blogs, you can read more about Service Chains™ and the process of creating the solutions, but here let’s discuss market validation. As soon as you have roughed out the Service Chain™, know the implementation projects, laid out in detail the entry project and developed the messaging for Idea Selling™ – idea meetings and stakeholder meetings – it is time to take the messaging to some virgin accounts as a validation of both the messaging and the Service Chains™. It is important to quickly get in front of several potential buyers and walk through the Idea Selling™ process. The messaging can be altered to elicit their views of the value of the Idea and its importance (as opposed to actually selling the deal, although you will probably sell some deals in this process). These meetings cannot be with lower level buyers currently known by the company, they must be the executives above the line of safety. They should not be friends or friends of friends – that kind of data is always suspect. There are approaches for getting these appointments that we will cover when we discuss Idea Selling™ in more detail.
This data will immediately help in several ways – clarify messaging (very important) and continue the education for the go-to-market teams on how to have Idea-based executive conversations. In addition, the Service Chains™ itself will be validated or invalidated and adjustments can be made from it.
Once the market validation is complete, the Service Chain™ can move forward into its next step of development and go to market. The initial portfolio can be hardened and leveraged both internally and externally.