Published Article

Building a Solutions-Based Organization

January 2001


By Steve Sheridan and Nick Bullinger, Published in Journal of Business Strategy

Seems like every company today says it aims to “partner” with its customers
and become a “solutions provider.” But saying it and doing it are two different things.

“We need to become a customerfocused, high-value, solutions provider!” the CEO thundered. With that, the eyes of every member of the senior staff turned on the senior VP for sales, P.J. Harris. Believing the CEO was absolutely right, Harris immediately set the sales staff to work on “customer solutions.”

P.J.’s sales people, serving as the customer’s advocate, worked diligently across multiple functions and business units to assemble the unique combination of product and service components that could solve a customer’s problems. And some of them became successful as solutions providers. Those who had the most experience, the closest links to customers, and the strongest internal networks — not to mention the personal fortitude to spend time serving as customer advocates — devised and sold solutions that thrilled their customers.

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