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ISM Article

Realizing Our Competition

31 Jul, 2006 By: Eric Stavola, Witt Company imageSource

Realizing Our Competition

Who is your biggest competitor? Is it the national conglomerate, the large
dealer down the street, that little Mom & Pop shop that keeps dropping prices,
or is it simply lack of knowledge?

As today's office moves toward a value add service industry, I have seen a
tremendous increase in demand for everything from software and hardware to
service related needs. Our customers look to us for the answers to all their
problems; we are, after all, their "solutions" provider. As technology keeps
becoming more and more prevalent, we need to clearly realize how to set up not
only ourselves to succeed, but our sales and technical staff.

While all of us are aware and understand that we are in a Solutions/Value
Added market, do we truly realize how to succeed in it? Being the geek that I
am, I like to break down everything into formulas to better understand. Thus,
the formula for Realization is this:

Awareness + Understanding + Action = Realization

In the effort to put some action into creating better trained staff or
personnel, I have put together some obvious (and not so obvious) ideas or places
to go to help aid in the battle against our biggest competitor: lack of
knowledge. I hope you will get some fresh ideas to tap into both new and even
some old areas of training.


Manufacturer Support - Every major manufacturer today has a detailed
website for online training, support, and product

information specifically designed for your sales staff. You will be amazed at
the abundance of information and product knowledge available to you and your
reps. Take advantage of this!

Demo/Presentation Skills - During your next sales meeting, ask each
member of your sales team to do an impromptu two minute presentation about your
company. After this exercise you’ll come away with a good idea about who needs
help. We all have a tendency to get rusty at times and by having weekly or
monthly demo/presentations or contests you’ll keep your sales team fresh and
prepared for that next opportunity.

In-House Training - Have your Sales Engineer hold weekly meetings with
the sales staff. He or she will implement and participate in the creation of
presentation tools, marketing and product information, and software and solution
strategies designed to improve the quality and consistency of the communication
flow about the products sold. By simply training on one utility a week, your
sales staff will be up to speed in no time. These meetings will also prove to be
priceless in furthering relations between your SE/Solutions department and sales

Industry Certifications - CompTia’s CDIA + has become the standard
industry certification for your sales individual and should become a must have.
Credentials ensure credibility.


Manufacturer Support - All major manufacturers understand the importance
of connectivity and network training, thus they provide great training on their
products. Most manufacturers will actually send out an individual who
specializes in a particular field such as a solution engineer, sales engineer,
or tech rep to work with your S.E. or technician one-on-one. Take advantage of
this support; call your manufacturer’s rep and tell them you are developing an
in-house S.E. and specifically ask what resources they have to support your
dealership. You will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of resources at your

In-House Training - Have your Sales Engineer hold weekly meetings with
your technical staff. Utilize their expertise in connectivity to improve the
skills of your staff. I have seen technical staffs improve greatly in as little
as a few months after implementing an in-house training schedule. This creates
new opportunities and frees up valuable SE resource time. Soon, technicians
should have no problem implementing a simple network install.

Industry Certifications - In the value add/connectivity world, we
strive to gain credibility with both our products and personnel. One sure fire
way to gain credibility with IT/MIS personnel is to have industry certified
personnel on staff. As an MCSE myself, I want to know I am having conversations
with individuals on my level of expertise. Albeit seemingly egotistical, I don’t
have time to deal with level 1 & 2 tech support. I want to work with an expert.
This type of mentality needs to be understood when dealing with IT/MIS. I have
seen too many deals lost because a company’s perception of your technical staff
was that of lackluster. Industry certifications help ensure that your company is
equipped to handle any size account and situation.

I recommend the following certifications: A+, N+, MCP and MCSA\MCSE. Getting
certified will not only make a valuable commitment to your S.E., it will help
your sales staff feel confident in selling technology.

Be the answer to all of your customer’s needs. By identifying and realizing
them you will be on the road to success one step at a time.

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