Given the struggles facing both buyers and sellers in today’s markets, it’s surprising that a shared solution has been so slow to emerge. But the outlines of such a solution are becoming clearer.

As we have discussed, buyers now seek assistance in managing risk, choice and complexity. They want their expectations properly managed. And they seek trust and credibility in sellers to bolster their confidence in a decision.

Sellers, meantime, are seeking an opportunity to differentiate themselves in hyper-competitive markets. They want to generate demand more effectively and earn the trust of key decision-makers.

One common denominator here is trustworthy and reliable guidance. This is the element necessary to build the confidence of buyers while setting sellers apart from their rivals.

While management consultants and other professional services firms have always provided guidance as a core service, the difference now is that traditional product and services firms could begin to make this an essential element of their overall value propositions. Some firms already have.

The field of information technology offers lots of examples. Both software and hardware firms have built up professional services practices to help implement and maintain their offerings. Some even go further and offer strategic advice based on the experiences of their clients and projections of changes to come. IBM, HP, EMC, Oracle and SAP all have respected consulting organizations.

And there are other examples. General Electric offers vigorous consulting services in various industrial sectors. UPS and FedEx provide strategic consulting on logistics to their clients. By going upstream in a strategic sense, they have become more valuable to their customers.

Given the growing frustrations of buyers in general, we can now expect a growing number of firms in the world of complex offerings and solutions to provide consultative services in various new forms and fashions. Some will even leverage new media and technologies that enable them to deliver their offerings in more accessible or sophisticated ways.

Get ready for this coming wave. Guidance will deliver solutions-oriented value in a way that the blending of conventional products and services cannot. As buyers and sellers realize their interests intersect around this distinct offering, we will be entering the guidance economy.