By Denise Gonçalves
Many solution providers have made a living for a very long time selling new technology to customers. But today, those wins get harder and harder because small and medium-sized companies want to know the business benefits, not the technology benefits, and how a solution will make them more successful, according to Pierre Gueguen, CEO of Ubister.
The France-based SAP Business ByDesign partner should know. Gueguen and Ubister have transformed their business to focus on SAP-qualified partner-packaged solutions that combine SAP solutions with Ubister’s services and support—which is changing the conversation with its customers from technology to solving specific business needs.
“Focusing on business needs removes so much noise from the conversation. Customers appreciate that clarity and visibility” Gueguen said. “They don’t care to understand what technology is involved. They just want to see how it’s going to affect their business. The challenge is for us to reassure them that it will work for their business.”
Crafting Your Own Success
Ubister began developing its own packaged solutions about two years ago when a couple of customers raised concerns about being forced to cloud solutions by competitors.
“They just said cloud is not for them and they didn’t want to rip out everything they had invested in” Gueguen said. “When we began speaking to customers, they wanted to talk about the business, not about the technology. So we did that.”
Since then, Ubister has developed four Design4-branded packaged solutions, with another one expected by the end of 2018. “All of them have attracted customers looking for a standard solution that can be implemented quickly and resolve a need” Gueguen said.
“They don’t ask what’s in it, they only want to know if we have successfully implemented it in the past. That’s the core benefit of an SAP-Qualified packaged solution—it’s a certified solution that we know how to implement” he said.
Ubister cautions customers that packaged solutions may not solve all their needs immediately, Gueguen said. Rather, the customer uses a packaged solution as a first step toward building a relationship with a trusted provider that they can work with long term.
“The idea of a package won’t answer everything, but it will provide you a solution that works right away. We focus on a limited scope, then grow the scope” Gueguen said. “We have a presentation slide that says, here’s where you are for Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3. They don’t have to implement right away, but they have a roadmap and a price. It is predictable. Our customers really appreciate that.”
Clarity, Transparency Are Key
While many SAP partners have adopted packaged solution strategies to overcome perceptions that SAP is too big and too expensive, Ubister hasn’t found that to be the case.
“More and more we have younger customers who don’t care about or want to hear about the ‘old SAP. They have a new view of SAP. They don’t want to look back about what used to be, only what we do now. They know SAP is a reliable solution and we go from there” Gueguen said.
What is staid, Gueguen said, is the way competitors still pitch customers. “We always hear that others are still selling in old ways. They always say our offer is very clear, that they know the price and that we know what we’re talking about. We signed 11 new customers in one year, all fast-growing companies. They’re not big, but they’re growing, and they know we can help them grow more quickly.”
“Cloud is so much a part of the market now that it can be hard to differentiate yourself. For us, packaged solutions are a unique way of speaking to the customer” Gueguen said. “Today, our ‘reputation’ is selling for us. We recently met with an investor who had worked with us on one of his projects and recommended our solution to another customer. It was a three-week cycle from the initial conversation to kicking off the project. ‘Those guys know what they are talking about. You can trust them.’ said the person who recommended us.”
Customers’ Perspective on Added Value
When Enterome, a Paris-based biotechnology company, was looking for a high-performance management solution to support its growth, it was a challenge—until discovering Ubister, said Christelle Dumoussaud, CFO. “The perspective of rapid implementation has finally convinced us to trust Ubister, whose package ‘Design4 – Research and Engineering’ package meets the needs of the company” she said.
Meanwhile, Vulog, a France-based shared mobility company, found Ubister a communicative partner with a solution easy to understand and recognize value from, said Renaud Bonnevialle, CFO.
“In connection with Green Creative, we will be able to measure what is most relevant for our activities, which modules to adapt, which solutions to customize, etc.” he said. “We must also recognize the role that that the financial interest has played since we realized a savings of about 10% on installation and training costs.”
According to Gueguen, sales cycles are quicker with packaged solutions because customers are more confident in their decisions with the clarity and transparency that the model provides.
“We got another lead from one of our calling campaigns on a Tuesday. We had a call with them the following Wednesday and they signed the following Friday. Two weeks” Gueguen said. “Most of the research customers are doing are online nowadays. They come to our website, see we have packages and they’ve done their work studying up on us. It’s really helped simplify the process.”
Selling packaged solutions is a radical change for many solution providers and business applications developers. You can’t implement ERP in 30 days, but you can implement some solutions in that time for a fixed price, Gueguen said.
“That’s a major challenge for competitors to change the way they work. I think that’s why they don’t want to use packaging. When you build a package, you say you’re going to provide this functionality for a fixed price and still be profitable. A lot of companies don’t work this way. I’m very happy we do.”