I was asked by a prospective customer recently what makes Simoda better than everyone else and rather that rolling out loads of things that we are amazing at I decided to talk about things which I believe IT providers get wrong.
Focus on the big names, ignore the disruptive & emerging vendors
Build a team of 'sales' people
Ignore the value of partnerships
Say no when they need to
Take responsibility first
Ok so lets dive in...........
1, Focus on the big names, ignore the disruptive & emerging vendors
The big names in technology are a must for any IT partner, I see most businesses carry the Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Dell & others brand names but gladly ignore the disruptive & emerging vendors. Why ? Market share, Gartner quadrants, Forrester wave, you name it there are lots of reasons however I believe that ignoring these vendors is to their own detriment.
When looking at disruptive & emerging vendors a good solid technology classification process is critically important to position a vendors product, solution or service it is also important to think about the ability to deliver, choose wisely and do your due diligence on the business / leadership team as well as the offerings.
2, Build a team of 'sales' people
During my many years in the technology sector I have seen lots of different strategies but one thing has always remained the same, the front and face of your business is a sales team, targeted to grow the business by selling technology products, solutions & services, now yes I agree that driving sales is very important however in todays modern multi choice world where anything is possible if you have deep enough pockets my questions is simple, in the technology industry is the day of the sales person or account manager over ?
Put your money where your mouth is !
Lets have a think about the traditional sales approach. You have a team of sales people, usually called 'account managers' who are paid a basic salary and then work to a commission structure which is built from the profit they make of the sale of products, solutions or services to the accounts they manage.
How do we address this challenge ?
We pay our Business Development Managers handsomely and they have no commission structure other than access to the company wide profit share scheme. Why does this make a difference, we have well and truly put our money where our mouth is and our focus is on technology rather than profit, we believe this builds strong long term sustainable relationships.
3, Ignore the value of partnerships
I remember attending a customer meeting many years ago when I was questioned about a service we provided to that customer and the IT director asked outright. 'we have looked at your business and you have 65 employees but the marketing says you have over 160 engineers, does this mean it is not your service and you subcontract it out?' Right there and then I was on the back foot, something I promised I wouldn’t do again.
A big failure for some IT providers is that they don’t feel confident to work in partnership with other businesses. In the technology sector more than any other the need for specialists is huge.
I would rather partner with a specialist business than pretend that we have the skills or ability to deliver something that we subcontract, the days of white labelling services are over, we are in the days of honesty & partnerships.
4, Say no when they need to
The ability to say no is overlooked as a strength and usually looked on as a weakness, I totally disagree. Saying no is better than not delivering or positioning something that will not achieve its objective. I like to think that our value is being honest enough with our customers to be able to offer advice and sometimes that advice is not liked or different from what they want to hear.
5, Take responsibility first
I remember when I first got into sales, I would like to think that I am a very good sales person but during the years I have realised that I am a good relationship person, anyway many years ago I won an order for some software licensing & a bunch of new PC's.
This was the days of custom build PC's, all items were in stock except for the graphics cards which were on back order, To make sure the order invoiced and thus achieved my target I removed the graphics cards from the order and placed them on a separate order. This wasn’t much of an issue but I didn’t tell the customer that, I bottled out of taking responsibility and used the 'courier issues' excuse for the non arrival of the cards.
The lesson here is that after a week of no graphics cards the customer cancelled the order and sent the rest of the goods back, in a later conversation with the customer I told him what had actually happened and he said 'if you told me that you could have kept the order' from that conversation I knew that I had to take responsibility first for everything I did even if we did have courier issues, it was still my responsibility.
Thanks for reading
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