The way in which this happens is in the increased responsibility that suppliers are now taking on for not just the product or service itself, but for the results generated from that product or service. To illustrate this, let’s think about how a traditional partnership works for a moment.
Let’s say that Company A has a great product and plenty of manufacturing capacity, but very little access to the market to sell that product to customers, whereas Company B has fantastic access to this market and a really good sales force, but doesn’t have anything to sell. Maybe Companies A and B can get together and form a partnership where Company A does the manufacturing, Company B does the selling and they split the profits equally between them. The partnership is a win-win for both companies, since both companies are now doing what they happen to be both good at and well positioned to be able to do, and equally are benefiting from the other company – their partner – handling the things that they are not good at and/or are not well positioned to be able to do.
In this scenario, each partner selected the other one on the basis of what that other company was good at and able to do that they themselves were not good at or able to do. This plugged the gaps in their own capabilities to provide them with a business opportunity which neither company on its own would otherwise have. The business opportunity could then be exploited and the value returned from doing so shared between the two partners.
Does this situation exist in the real world? Yes it most definitely does. Take eBay as an example. eBay has a fantastic reach to millions of customers, and all the eBay suppliers have products that those customers might potentially want to purchase. eBay would struggle to survive if it didn’t have any suppliers selling their products on its platform, and likewise many of those suppliers would struggle to survive without access to that platform’s customers for them to sell their products to.
So now let’s think about how this works with customer success management and the “1800 turn” that we were discussing a few minutes ago. Whereas prior to customer success the message to customers may have been something along the lines of “buy our products and services, they’re really good”, the new message to customers might be “partner with us and we’ll help you generate the value you need”. Instead of asking our customers “what product do you want?” with customer success management in place we can start to confidently ask them “what outcomes are you looking for?”. And therefore instead of selling them a solution, we can sell them an end result. An end result that both the customer and now the supplier is invested in and one in which in a very real way the supplier is also rewarded for when it is achieved, since the customer’s attainment of value implies that the customer will renew the service contract and/or buy further products and services as relevant.