Today’s IT services companies are no longer just focused on computers, networks, and the technologies that drive them. The speeds and feeds that used to drive customer conversations have been replaced with discussions around topics such as long-term business objectives, compliance requirements, and the benefits of automating certain organizational procedures. Your clients value professionals who understand the complexities of running a business in today’s environment — especially those who can simplify the experience and make it much more enjoyable and profitable.
That type of expertise requires a shift in strategy. A personality transplant, if you will. Today’s IT service provider must create a highly engaging atmosphere where interactions with management personnel are as common as those with their line workers. The more communication between the organizations, the better the design of their solutions and the greater the outcome of their collaborative efforts.
That process starts before the first sales call is ever made. What many businesses — not just technology companies — tend to forget is that customer engagement must be firmly instilled as a corporate mindset, not just something to do when things slow down. It becomes, in effect, the organization’s personality: one of encouragement and collaboration to ensure an optimal outcome for the client.
Sounds easy, right?
It can be. Some channel professionals have a knack. They can initiate and lead highly constructive conversations with little if any coaching, and build organizations where those skills are embraced and further developed. They hire like-minded people and coach those capabilities whenever possible. Their job postings emphasize collaborative skills and a genuine ability to relate to a variety of business professionals, from the most entry-level worker to top executives in client organizations.
Who Are You?
To be clear, conversational skills are not all it takes to build a business personality. An organization’s “character” comes from a combination of traits, from its marketing messaging and sales prospecting interactions to its billing and collections processes. Those exchanges can make or break a managed services business.
To be sure, your team’s interactions with clients and prospects are crucial to creating a positive perception. It’s a commitment and helps demonstrate that the organization truly values it customers and employs people who care about their businesses. Perhaps more importantly, those continued conversations build a foundation for productive, long-term relationships that can mutually benefit all companies involved.
Of course, there are several other requirements when building a personality for your business.
- Create a unique experience: differentiation is a major selling point for IT services business. Each company should emphasize its exceptional capabilities and market expertise, and highlight the things that separate its service from the rest. Would you like to be known as the choice for innovation, the go-to security expert, or the hometown IT hero? Commit yourself to a plan and make it happen. Then let your target audience know (see number 2).
- Ramp up and amp up your marketing: what good comes from building an exceptional business if no one knows about it? Develop messaging and relay brief customer experiences that paint a picture of your company’s unique capabilities. Use social media and local press to help spread the word without breaking the budget, adding paid programs as the situation and budget allows. Need a little help? CompTIA Premier members have free access to the association’s Marketing Toolkit, a resource filled with successful IT services-related promotional strategies and best practices.
- Enhance your services portfolio: no one can do everything, nor should they want to, but what your firm does is a big part of its personality. Not to mention the quality and scope of that work, which is extremely crucial for those calling themselves specialists. For example, financial institutions (i.e. banks, credit unions, advisors) expect their IT services contractors to highly knowledgeable and competent in managing their regulatory compliance requirements today, which also involves end user training. Can your firm handle those responsibilities? The good news? It’s now relatively easy to leverage capable partners to deliver those types of advanced or unique services and, when done right, they become a seamless extension of your company’s portfolio.
Those suggestions should sound simple and logical — because they are. Unless the plan involves extensive investments in marketing or personnel, the financial outlay associated with building a business personality can be minimal. The key is just to do something that differentiates the organization and addresses the unique needs of your customers. When done right, they both should help attract new customers and ensure a bright future for the business.
Brian Sherman is president of Tech Success Communications, a channel-related content and social media development firm. He served previously as chief editor at Business Solutions magazine and senior director of industry alliances with Autotask. Contact Brian at Bsherman@techsuccesscommunications.com.