Articles

How to Sell Services MORE Profitably

R. Werner, W. ULAGA

Harvard Business Review

mai 2008, vol. 86, n°5, pp.90-96

Départements : Marketing


When products become commodities, manufacturing companies may seek to differentiate themselves with value-added services—a potentially profitable strategy. Unfortunately, companies often stumble in the effort. Reinartz and Ulaga conducted in-depth studies of 18 leading companies in a broad variety of product markets to learn what distinguished the successes from the rest. They discovered four steps to developing a profitable services capability.Recognize that you already have a service company. You can identify and charge for simple services—as Merck did when it stopped quietly absorbing shipping costs. Switching services from free to fee clarifies their value for managers as well as for customers.Industrialize the back office. To prevent delivery costs from eating up service-offering margins, build flexible service platforms, closely monitor process costs, and exploit new technologies that enable process innovations. The Swedish bearings manufacturer SKF provided off-site access to an online monitoring tool that could warn of potential failure in customers’ machines.Create a service-savvy sales force. Services require longer sales cycles and, often, decisions from high up in a customer’s hierarchy; what’s more, product salespeople may be inimical to change. Schneider-Electric did a major overhaul of its sales organization and trained its people to switch from cost-plus pricing to value-based pricing.Focus on customers’ processes and the opportunities they afford for new service offerings. You may need to acquire new capabilities to take advantage of those opportunities: The industrial coatings specialist PPG had to learn how painting robots function after it offered to take over Fiat’s Torino paint shop.Services can both lock in customers and help acquire new accounts. They should be developed with care and attention.


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