Six Money Making Tips for Success in Tough TimesBy Pedro Pereira | Print
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If a government bailout is out of reach, solution providers should focus on tightening customer relationships, good technology and savvy technology picks to ensure profits.
Unless you can make a persuasive case for a government bailout, chances are
you will have to rely on your market savvy and hard work to turn a profit in
the coming year.
Hard work, of course, is nothing new to the entrepreneurial crowd that makes up the IT channel, so you’ve got that covered. But solution providers must take extra care to employ the right business strategies and embrace technology with real growth potential to have any hope of surviving the economic tempest that appears likely to last through much of 2009.
With that in mind, here are six tips for boosting profitability in the coming year:
1. Stick with what you got: Recruiting new customers during times of economic hardship will take more effort and energy than when things are good, so while it would be unadvisable to abandon recruiting efforts altogether, it will make sense to devote more of your resources to doing more for existing customers. Evaluate what you already are providing for the customer to figure out what else you can add. If you offer managed services, for instance, are backup and recovery part of your mix yet? Are you monitoring virtual environments remotely? If not, this would be a good time to launch new offerings.
2. Focus on goals: Remember, customers for the most part couldn’t care less about the technology. Ask which server runs which application, and you are bound to get a blank stare. So don’t make technology the centerpiece of your customer pitch. Focus on the ends, and never mind the means. The customer has a goal – to streamline billing, boost application performance, secure wireless connections. Make the case that you are the best provider to deliver on these goals with proofs of concept and ROI calculations. Use other customer examples to show value and cost savings.
3. Get holistic: Yeah, it’s an overused term, but here is the deal: For too long, solution providers have separated products from services in approaching the customer. This no longer makes sense in most situations. Offer the customer hardware, software and the services as a comprehensive package to meet business goals. You can do this by project or, as in the case of MasterIT, a managed services provider in Bartlett, Tenn., adopt it as a business model. MasterIT’s managed services contracts cover equipment, applications and service, replacing whatever needs to be replaced along the way, and the customer pays a recurring fee for the complete package.
4. Think green: Your customer wants it, and you can provide it. Over the past year, the mood among customers toward embracing ecologically friendly technology changed palpably. While in the past going green was all about saving money, customers now are also embracing green practices and technologies because they believe it helps their brand. For the more green-conscious among your customers, why not put together a green services package? Take advantage of Intel’s remote control vPro technology, for instance, to cut down on system power use during off hours, as well as tools like Actuate’s Sustainability Management application to propose and implement eco-friendly practices and technology.