By John Mansour
The three Ms for B2B solutions are analogous to the four Ps for consumer products with one key exception. The four Ps emphasize individual product success while the three Ms emphasize solutions comprised of multiple complementary products and services that make it easier to differentiate, solve bigger problems and increase the average deal size.
Apply these three Ms to your portfolio and you’ll be rewarded with faster and healthier growth.
The good news is your products can be used by many organizations across many market segments. It’s also bad news because the thought of focusing on specific market segments feels like you’re consciously excluding others and limiting your growth potential.
The simple rule of thumb is you can “sell” to any organization in any market to maximize your revenue opportunities as long as your solutions are a good fit as is. But strategic product investments, marketing resources and sales initiatives should focus on market segments that will drive 80% of your revenue. The other 20% are smart enough to know you’re a good fit even if you don’t target them explicitly.
This level of market focus allows your solutions to be highly relevant with differentiating capabilities for your most important markets, and those elements of differentiation are the key to more effective sales and marketing. Continue adding market segments over time to ensure you’re always playing from a position of strength.
It’s easy to let metrics that are critical to your organization consume your strategy and product direction. But if your goal is to deliver more powerful solutions, it’s easier to start with metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators) that are critical and strategic to your target customers. If your solutions are powerful enough to advance the KPIs of organizations in your target markets, it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t move the needle on your own KPIs.
Mindshare may be the most difficult of the Ms because internally, there are so many product initiatives competing for the same resources and externally, marketing communications quickly become white noise.
The key is to communicate a message that’s simple, clear and compelling enough to be heard above everything else competing for the same minds, both internally and externally. The secret: leave all things product and technology out of the initial dialogue. They’re not important until the focus shifts to “how” the solution will be delivered.
The core message should focus on who (target markets), what (target customer KPIs and key challenges to meeting those KPIs) and why (root causes behind those challenges). Messages built with these components are simple for everyone to understand, internalize and repeat. And the more people repeating your message, the greater the mindshare you’ll achieve.
The emphasis on products versus solutions isn’t an either/or scenario. B2B organizations require both to succeed. Incremental product improvements are important to retain customers and protect recurring revenue streams while multi-product solutions are critical for exponential growth.
So what makes the 3 Ms for B2B solutions so critical? They provide incredible clarity and focus when making decisions on growth and investment priorities that are most valuable to the organization. They also provide common parameters that product teams, marketing and sales can rally around to drive growth. When product teams, marketing and sales are focused on the same three Ms, your organization is rewarded with a fourth M – (market) momentum.
John Mansour is president and founder of Proficientz, a company focused on B2B product portfolio management.
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