Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When Your Prospects Don't See Value...

Or even your existing clients do not see the value in your services, you get situations like these.

Of course, we do not sell prepackage videos or a casual meal. Both of those were not necessary, but optional services that the clients could have done without. We sell productivity, business continiuty, no worries, etc. Don't you? If you see yourself selling network infrastructure and cannot translate that into the above topics in your prospects mind, you are much more vunerable to what happens in the video.

Don't get me wrong. Not all prospects (or clients) will get the value proposition, no matter how good you are at relating value. You will always appear to them as the evil company attempting to get their money. Unless you are starving, walk away from them.

Many thanks to Joel Simpson at Simpson Computing in NC for bringing this video to the attention of the SBS Group Leads. He is a class act.

Its Christmas in June! The twinkles in your clients eyes...

Clients do not realize how many treasures are still hidden away inside their SBS server. For whatever reason, lots of SBS servers out there are not having their secondary features used. Features such as SBS Connector, RWW, OWA, etc. Opening up those features for your clients is like giving them Christmas gifts they have already paid for.

I have a client that had a SBS 2003 server that was not being utilized for its SBS features. They had pain points that they did not know they had the solution for. After telling the clients about the goodness they were missing out on, they had me expose these features so they could use them. In this case, the client was worried about checking their accounting while out of town. Hey, tailor made problem for RWW. A few router changes and some basic training, and Voila!. Now, even though I had explained the features they were getting, their faces lit up when they actually "experienced" the feature. Reminded me of Christmas morning. The kid knows what they will get. Its the experience of getting it that that gives the kid..eh..client the positive emotional rush.

Trust me. A positive emotion from your client about something you made happen... candycane for you. So, check your clients and see if there are pain points that you already have the solutions in place for. Our clients under utilize the systems we have already put in place. Unwrap any presents that your clients haven't yet discovered, and spread some Christmas cheer!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Your Vendors VS Your Clients : Your Dilemma

I've been stuck in a dilemma.

How do I develop strong relationships with my vendors while preserving my impartial judgement on behalf of my clients?

In the industry, the sage wisdom is to develop strong relationships with my vendors and then have my vendors fund, sponsor, and otherwise support my efforts in return for aggressively pushing their products. How do I develop strong relationships with vendors that want me to produce sales, and still safeguard the trust that the clients have in me to not sell them stuff or services they do not need?

There is the added self interest that my company is more profitable and productive by standardizing around fewer vendors. Yet, I must bring in new vendors that understand the new paradigms that are coming, or do better at a lower cost. Still, I cannot force clients away from the old vendor unless I really believe they will be benefited by the new vendor's product or service. Or that they at least will not be hurt...

But my whole practice has been built around tailoring to the clients specific needs. That sometimes means using different vendors in the same product or service category. Backup is a prime example. Some clients need a backup solution that can give fast virtualization, due to production requirements or commitments to their clients. Other clients need just backup, as they are willing to suffer some downtime. Some have large datasets they want offsite and others have small amounts that need to be backed up. Most vendors do not cover all of this, and none do all well.

I have accepted that I must have 2 to 3 vendors in most categories for my existing client base. I am toying with the idea of making 1 a prime vendor and then putting together a marketing program to find new clients that need the best-in-class product from that vendor. That would give the vendor the activity to justify supporting me. That means I will have to change from growth by referral to actual marketing. Ouch, that is a brave new world for me. Hope to share with you as I work my way through that.

EDIT - Actually, I meant direct response marketing was new. I have put out the fishhook (Yellow Pages, Stuffers, etc) before just hoping something would bite, but you never know what you will get. More directed marketing at a specific profile of potentials, that is what I mean.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Facing a Tough Crowd

I had my first presentation at a conference with a national audience. Computer Troubleshooters had their national conference here in Phoenix. They had some requests for a speaker on SBS 2008. I got a call for a local expert that could present on that subject. Well, I am not that expert, so I roped Mike Effertz into doing the show. He is our hands down best expert on SBS 2008 in the AZ SMB Users Group. Mike carried most of the load. I had been doing alot with migration for SBS 2008, so I volunteered to do an overview of the options for migrating to SBS 2008.

All in all, it went quite well. The CT crowd was kind to us. We did not stumble in the presentation. Questions were intelligent. I may have to do this again.

One thing I did discover. Between Mike and I, we had a combined total 48 YEARS in business. Wow!

The problem with EWaste, Part 1

EWaste, that ever growing mountain of discarded electronic parts, has been on my mind for some time.

I gave a talk about a year ago at Lunch Bunch networking group of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce on the improper disposal of ewaste in third world countries. I had intended to follow that with practical steps on what the local small business could do to make sure their ewaste was disposed of correctly. Alas, so many things to do...

Anyway, tonight PBS had a special on Ewaste disposal in Ghana. Powerful stuff! The full video, Ghana:Digital Dumping Ground, is available on line. Very revealing information on SSNs, checking accounts, passwords, defense contractor documents, etc that were found on the hard drives in Ghana. Watch and Learn!

I will be back to add to this issue. Just need to do some more research...