Many B2B companies are experiencing a shift in the way they view their markets and customers. Historically, these organizations viewed their markets and customers through the lens of the ability to win market share for a suite of products. Today, many of these organizations have refocused on or are beginning to pay greater attention to the total share-of-wallet that can be captured at an account. Changing their objective towards the market causes businesses to behave differently and for these organizations to successfully begin capturing a greater total share-of-wallet, several key business model shifts are required.
One key shift involves orienting the Professional Services (PS) business around account journeys. First, let’s introduce account journeys. We define account journeys as encompassing the specific account strategies, plans, and playbooks that lead accounts through an increasingly expanded relationship with you and your organization. When successfully implemented, account journeys facilitate effective account management and account planning, allowing companies to grow the value of the account and an intimate relationship with the customer.
The first step in building the business around account journeys is deciding the types of accounts it wants. The company may look at characteristics such as size (revenue, # of employees, etc.), what the account buys, and organizational personality. In conjunction with these decisions, B2B companies should examine how they will build intimacy and differentiation for their desired account types. This leads them to two key thoughts:
- What do we want the account to buy over time? For example, do we want them to buy hardware, software-as-a-service, and/or outsource key aspects of their business to us?
- What journey will lead the customer to these outcomes and the relationships needed? This is where PS comes into play.
For example, let’s use a goal of driving accounts to purchase hardware-as-a-service. With hardware-as-a-service, the customer depends on the product vision and the company’s ability to meet more aggressive business outcomes. Therefore, achieving this goal requires building and sustaining a much closer relationship with the customer. The journey for those customers likely involves more than buying hardware. The key steps and decisions the customer will need to take before committing to purchasing hardware-as-a-service include:
- Decide whether to undertake or consider the Idea. By nature, this is a consultative decision process, and PS can play the role of facilitating this decision-making process, which provides the credibility and elevates the relationship in order to support the account goals.
- Determine how to undertake the effort. This decision should not be left for the customer to make on their own, and it should not be expected that it can be made simply through the sales process. Often, supporting a customer with this decision includes a PS project like an evaluation of the customers’ situation and a validation that the value of the change is worth it and can be achieved in their environment.
- Pilot the Idea and agree with reasonable evaluation that the value will materialize. Again, this step should be expected and built into the account journey. It likely includes a larger PS project, in which the products are implemented, and value is either driven or the path to value is demonstrated.
Now, this B2B company would focus the offers of the PS business to play these key roles. It is important that the PS business:
- Knows how to accomplish these projects,
- Staffs and trains its people for these projects, and
- Is integrated into the selling, delivery, and upselling to ensure that everything goes as planned.
While incorporating PS into the sales and account expansion process on its own doesn’t create immediate success, if done deliberately, it is a critical part of facilitating an account journey and can play a material role in the expansion of share-of-wallet at key and strategic customers.
Written by: Dean McMann
About the Author: Dean McMann is a Founding Partner at McMann & Ransford with 35+ years of experience in consulting and professional services. He is a sought-after expert and speaker on topics of: B2B differentiation, professional services best practices, and overcoming commoditization. In addition to his extensive experience in the Professional Services space, Dean also serves on the board of various non-profit organizations.