Alignment, Assignment, Technique4 Dec, 2014 By: Eric Stavola, MSCIS,MCSE,MCSA,N+,CDIA+
I recently read an article that stated the original Fortune 500 list of companies published in 1955; 489 of them are no longer in business or have been merged into other companies. As I was reading, I could not help but think about the evolution in our copier/imaging business.
I have noticed a major transformation in the copier industry in order to stay relevant and make the change towards selling services vs. selling just hardware. In effort to stay current to their customers’ demands, dealers and manufacturers are learning what services they can deliver.
One of the biggest changes in our industry is the push to get into the IT Services business. Probably the most often asked question I get today from dealers is, “How do we convert our dealership to sell IT services?”
I would say to focus on three things: Alignment, Assignment, and Technique.
Portfolio Offerings: As you venture out to sell IT services, you want to align your portfolio offerings. Clearly define what you will sell and service but also and this is critical, clearly define what you will NOT Sell and Service. In effort to help define your portfolio offerings one should keep in mind the following:
• Realize your company’s current capabilities to deliver existing or planned services
• Identify service definitions and potential customers
• Define your Documentation alignment and reporting methods
• As a service provider you should also be evolving your portfolio to match customer needs
Business Model: No matter how one looks at it, selling IT services and especially managed IT services is a different business model than that of the typical copier company. While they have some similarities, such as re-occurring revenues and B2B sales, they are very different when rolling out. Make sure you organization in thinking of WHY to sell IT Services before wasting resources on the HOW.
VCIO Role: The VCIO is a must assignment; this individual will have high technical and business acumen and will lead the charge in transforming your organization and your sales. Leverage this individual not only as a sales tool but also as an internal leader and change agent for the company.
Sales: Have a dedicated sales staff to sell this new offering. Trying to train your existing staff will only be a distraction and lead to a lot of headaches, non-effective training sessions, and decline of hardware sales. Remember that the concept of IT Services became a must in efforts to retain customers and gain more wallet share from current customer bases. I don’t care if you’re selling a copier, MPS, Document Management, or It Services; it’s still about the relationship. I work with so many Sales Reps and Managers that get overwhelmed with all the technology that they think they need to learn in order to adapt in this business. While it is important to have a good baseline understanding, one should never forget that our business, now and in the future, will always be a relational sale first!
Service: I have seen far too many companies launch IT services and managed services offerings thinking they can support it with their existing technicians. It is clear to me that many companies truly lack the understanding of the key role assignments and responsibilities needed to support these types of offerings.
When Selling IT Services it is key to define a process and technique for selling such services. Understand that a process can be replicated, if it can be taught, it can be constant, and such consistency will lead to trust and confidence with your sales staff.
Prior to going to market it is important to define your approach to selling IT Services. An example of such process technique is listed below in a 4 step approach:
Step 1: During the first meeting gain project approval and align goals:
• Build your service around people and processes
• Set a second meeting appointment
Step 2: Doing an IT Assessment will document and outline the following:
• Current needs / pain points of technology
• Strategic areas of concern
Step 3: At the second meeting gain agreement on assessment findings:
• Tell them what they need – develop confidence, you‘re the consultant
• Validate solution offering
Step 4: Final recommendations and implementations – The Proposal
Eric Stavola, MSCIS, MCSE, MCSA, MCPS, N+, CDIA+ can be reached at (619) 379-3009 and firstname.lastname@example.org