GE Healthcare’s Research on Solutions Marketing: Learning from the “Best of Breed”
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So…what do strong learning organizations do when they identify a gap in their own capabilities? From what I’ve seen over the years, they reach out and study companies that are considered “best of breed”. GE Healthcare has committed to improve its ability to leverage its broad portfolio of products and services to provide real solutions to its customers.Joe Camaratta, General Manager at GE Healthcare, decided to survey product-driven companies that are well along the way to making the transition to a stronger solutions model. Through a process facilitated by Solutions Insights, Joe interviewed solutions professionals at a range of companies, including Xerox, IBM, Cisco, Emerson Electric, Rockwell Automation, IBM, its own GE Capital group, and others.
What did Joe learn through this research initiative? I had a chance to talk with him recently about it – here’s what he told me.
(NOTE: Joe shares the same perspective that we have at Solutions Insights regarding the definition of a solution – it’s a combination of products, services, and intellectual property focused on a business problem or opportunity that drives measurable business value and can be significantly standardized. The solutions components can be from either the vendor and/or one or more partners, and the solutions implementer can be the vendor, the partner, the customer itself, or a combination of the three.)Steve: Did you find out what these solutions leaders are still struggling with?
Joe: I did. There were two main challenges that were common to many of the companies. First, they seemed to have the least amount of confidence in their commercialization/go to market capabilities. There are still a lot of questions about the right sales approach -- do you create an overlay structure or not? Does the sales force focus on both product and solutions at the same time? Do you change the compensation structure? There doesn’t appear to be a consistent “best practice” here.
The second major challenge seems to be measuring their solutions activities. Understanding the value of the solutions business to the corporation continues to be very difficult for them to get their hands around. Some IT companies have been able to “SKU” their highly packaged solutions, but outside of IT everyone seems to be struggling.
Are you interested in improving your ability to develop, market and sell solutions? I suggest you go back to your marketing fundamentals and do your homework. Research what others have been doing. Benchmark your solutions results against others. It ain’t rocket science, but it is time-consuming, requires a commitment, and will give you the results that you’re looking for.
If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about what “best in class” companies are doing, feel free to contact me at shurleysolutionsinsights.com.