The Value-based Sales Approach—Design Process, Tools and Needed Capabilities to Create a Solution

  • Hanna Luotola
  • Maria Ivanova-Gongne
  • Johanna Liinamaa


Being a solution provider differs significantly from being an industrial product manufacturer, as solution sales necessitate value-based selling techniques. In order to succeed in solution sales, sellers have to change their way of doing business by seeking to understand customer problems and communicating how their solution generates higher profits for the customer. The findings show that companies lack the tools and managerial capabilities to transform their organization into one that solves customer problems. We present a value-based sales approach to enable industrial companies to address customer problems and enhance customer certainty in that added value. Design thinking was applied to guide the process of identifying, co-creating and confirming customer-perceived value. The sales process and its relevant tools were developed in collaboration with our company partners in the DIMECC REBUS program.


Solution Value-based sales Design thinking Certainty Co-creation 


  1. Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brown, T. (2008, June). Design thinking. Harvard Business Review, 86(6), 84–92.Google Scholar
  3. Cantù, C., Corsaro, D., & Snehota, I. (2011). Roles of actors in combining resources into complex solutions. Journal of Business Research, 65(2), 139–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dalziel, M. (2007). A systems-based approach to industry classification. Research Policy, 36(10), 1559–1574.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Davies, A., Brady, T., & Hobday, M. (2007). Organizing for solutions: Systems seller vs. systems integrator. Industrial Marketing Management, 36(2), 183–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hellström, M., Wikström, R., Gustafsson, M., & Luotola, H. (2016). The value of project execution services: A problem and uncertainty perspective. Construction Management & Economics, 34(4–5), 272–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Liinamaa, J., Viljanen, M., Hurmerinta, A., Ivanova-Gongne, M., Luotola, H., & Gustafsson, M. (2016). Performance-based and functional contracting in value-based solution selling. Industrial Marketing Management, 57, 37–49. doi: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2016.05.032.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Romme, A. (2003). Making a difference: Organization as design. Organization Science, 14(5), 558–577.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Rost, K., Hözle, K., & Gemünden, H. (2007). Promoters of champions? Pros and cons of role specialization for economic process. Schmalenbach Business Review, 59, 340–363.Google Scholar
  10. Storbacka, K. (2011). A solution business model: Capabilities and management practices for integrated solutions. Industrial Marketing Management, 40(5), 699–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Terho, H., Haas, A., Eggert, A., & Ulaga, W. (2012). It’s almost like taking the sales out of selling’: Towards a conceptualization of value-based selling in business markets. Industrial Marketing Management, 41(1), 174–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Ulaga, W., & Eggert, A. (2006). Value-based differentiation in business relationships: Gaining and sustaining key supplier status. Journal of Marketing, 70(January), 119–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanna Luotola
    • 1
  • Maria Ivanova-Gongne
    • 1
  • Johanna Liinamaa
    • 1
  1. 1.Åbo Akademi UniversityTurkuFinland

Personalised recommendations