One of the biggest changes I’m seeing in today’s marketplace is how quickly businesses are shifting from selling products to selling services. Companies understandably see huge potential in offering a more flexible range of buying choices and making more efficient use of their assets. However, there’s a deeper reason why this trend has taken hold so quickly: the rise of the sharing economy.
Look at the number of traditional products that are now services built on sharing. Hotel rooms are now having to compete with Airbnb. Taxis are locked in battle with Uber and Lyft. Many of those old accountant offices have been replaced by powerful cloud-based services.
Consumers love this and the proof is in skyrocketing sales. Sharing owns a $15 billion piece of the economy today and it’s expected to grow to more than $335 billion by 2025.
One of the key ways to defend against these new niche services: if you haven’t already, you need to move towards selling platforms.
Your sales platform is where future success awaits.
Greater collaboration in how people buy and in how they work with others: that’s the magic sauce in what makes sharing so successful. So how can you capitalize on this trend in your own work and find ways for your customers to connect with others?
Examine your own organization. Are you moving away from selling products towards integrating services ultimately to selling a platform, or are you at risk of stagnating while competitors eat your lunch?
Create customized platforms for sales. This is key to transitioning from products alone to products as a service or products plus services. When done right, you save money and increase return on investment on the traditional products in your channels.
Here are three examples of how you can implement a sales platform.
1. Build on what you have.
Consider if there are ways to that you can transform an existing product into a service. That’s what Netflix did. Years ago, while still competing with Blockbuster in the mail-order movie rentals market, they leveraged their growing subscriber base to create an internet video-streaming service.
This works on a smaller scale, too. Let’s say you build a software application. How do you support it on an ongoing basis? What kinds of customer-care packages can you offer that add extra training or special access? Is there a way you could create an offer that’s billed on an annual or monthly basis? Maybe you can offer a package deal for supporting groups of customers, or have a platinum one-on-one support?
2. Make an enticing new offer to existing customers.
Once you’ve identified new services, look at how you’re going to present this as a new offer. A technology client of Engage recently did something bold with their product, combining it with what had previously been a separate offer—training and maintenance, technology support, customer support—into one hard-to-resist platform. Renamed as the Total Care platform, it offers three support levels: gold, silver and bronze, and takes care of all customer needs in one single payment on an annual or a monthly basis.
3. Create a wider array of choices.
Sales platforms thrive when they help give your customer choices that they previously didn’t have. Selling more to your existing customers still remains one of the most effective ways to stay on the path to steady, profitable growth. Take a look at what you currently offer in your business: are there ways to take a single service and grow it into a range of choices? A medical clinic I belong to has created a hybrid platform of public and private systems. They operate in a sharing environment: a team of doctors having access to your file rather than a single physician. You choose from two levels of service. Once you’re in, you’re guaranteed 24 appointments for everything from vaccinations to blood work. By offering a wider array of choices, they’re changing the rules of the game governing family medicine.
So get serious about building your sales platform. As I point out in my book, Non-Stop Sales Boom: when it comes to choosing your platform that fits your prospects and customers, you are the sum of what you create and share.