Build an IT Infrastructure to Sell More IT Services2 Feb, 2015 By: Eric Stavola, MSCIS,MCSE,MCSA,N+,CDIA+
I can’t believe that its 2015. Let’s put that into perspective; 2015 is both the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future and it is the same year that Marty McFly traveled again to in Back to the Future Part II. Boy, do I feel old. However, no matter how old one becomes or feels, they should never be too old to learn something, and never afraid to change. That is why I like to say that “Learning without change is not really learning.”
If you’re old enough to recall the original movie years ago, McFly took off in a DeLorean time machine, excited to get a glimpse of the future. That’s how I feel now, and hope some of you do, too. As I look into our changing business, I am excited about the opportunities that are or will present itself to our marketplace.
We all know that the beginning of the year is time for new beginnings and resolutions. Thus, I thought it would be helpful to come up with a resolution that I am sure most dealers are asking for in effort to make that ongoing transition (from hardware-centric) to a Services-driven business in 2015.
Key Resolution: Build an IT Infrastructure to Sell More IT Services
Train Your Technical and IT Staff Correctly
One of the biggest struggles I see in dealerships today is the gap in technical and business knowledge with their IT and Technical Staff. With the demands of our business changing rapidly it has been hard for dealerships to keep up with the training demand. To help, when training your pre-sales engineers make sure to cover the following:
Subject matter Experts: Make sure they are Subject Matter Experts; not only on your offered portfolio but that they also have expertise on the implementation of the portfolio.
Sense of Urgency: The successful engineers I see know and understand the demands on your sales staff. They know what it’s like to get kicked out of a building or a caller hangs up on them. Thus, they feel a need and sense of urgency to deliver when in front of a customer. They have a true respect for the demands of your professional sales staff.
Business Acumen: As you develop your portfolio, start to trend new sales offerings, which will meet the demand of your customers. It’s also imperative for sales engineers to have a base understanding of how your offered portfolio will impact the client’s business.
Hire a VCIO
I know I may sound like a broken record, but the VCIO is a must assignment. Just like a CFO or COO, many companies are not large enough to afford their very own full-time CIO, but that does not mean they do not need a CIO; it only means they cannot afford a full-time one. So why not hire one to help lead this most critical new arm of your business, and at times “outsource” him/her (for a fee) to your clients when needed? This provides a service to your customers who need a CIO but can’t afford one full-time, while it helps you to employ/pay for a CIO, and find another way to retain your clients’ business overall, increasing your profits.
Motivate Your Staff
Make sure as you and your company transition into selling Managed It Services that you establish procedures and document motivation points for your staff. In my experience, people are motivated by three things:
- Personal Growth – Set up ongoing training for Sales, Technical, and Design Resources.
- Recognition – Establish company benchmarks and objectives, and acknowledge results.
- Financial Reward – Align your hardware compensation to selling services.
Define Your Portfolio:
By clearly defining what we/you sell will make it much more realistic to handle and teach your staff to adapt. Be sure to realize your company’s current capabilities in order to deliver existing or planned services that should include:
- Basic Managed IT Services
- SaaS Offerings
- Back Up Disaster Recovery Offerings
- Consulting Services (VCIO)
The key to remember, once again, is as a service provider, you should be evolving your portfolio to match your customers’ needs.
Establish Creditability With Your Customers
- Through Lines of Support: IT/MIS’s job is to resolve issues before and when they arise. What they what to see is lines of expertise and support to handle their issues. This is a huge advantage to show customers, when dealing with competition, that they may not be able to hire, train, or retain this type of expertise and support that you provide.
- Through Honesty: Sales personnel, when they are talking to IT, should not try to wing it or answer questions they really have little knowledge about. Instead, they should be honest with the client and say “I don’t know but I will get someone in front of you who does.” By saying you don’t know, you are being honest with them, and you not only value IT’s knowledge, you gain credibility through the process. You also get the opportunity to show your company’s process of team support.
- Through Knowledge: IT/MIS personnel want to be working with companies and individuals who know their network. By having qualified individuals in the Managed Services process who can engage and credibly answer the Business Owners and/or IT’s questions, you will gain credibility.
Eric Stavola is an IT certified professional with work experience that includes office product OEMs and Dealerships in the USA, and currently is employed with a large OEM. Certs include: MSCIS, MCSE, MCSA, MCPS, N+, CDIA+. Contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org