Seems like everybody is a "solutions provider" these days. Whether you make a product, provide a service, or do just about anything, you better be telling clients you're a "business solutions provider." In the past, it used to be all about "answers," but when everybody started doing that, “solutions provider” became the new buzzphrase for every vendor to tout.
Having had a lot of vendors call on me in my corporate life talking about being a solutions provider, I became very skeptical about the buzzphrase and what business expertise might really be behind it.
What Does It Really Mean to Provide Solutions
In light of that, it was refreshing at an event I was helping produce recently to hear a business-to-business services customer offer his perspective on what being a business solutions provider really means for him. While his list was industry specific, his remarks prompted this short list of questions a vendor (or their business clients) should be able to answer “yes” to if solutions really are part of the equation:
- Do they start out by listening to clients' business concerns, issues, and opportunities?
- After listening, do they follow up with strong questions before they launch into an extensive spiel on their own company?
- Can they talk about real, measurable business benefits they provide instead of simply reciting product features?
- Are they up for challenging client thinking and perspectives?
- Will they reach out to other parties (external to their own company, if necessary) to bring better business capabilities than they have alone?
- Are they willing to experiment and try things they've not done exactly that way before to address business clients' specific needs?
This list clearly just skims the surface. For those of you buying business products and services from companies claiming to provide solutions, what do you think separates companies really solving challenges from the posers who claim to but don't?
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