The right audience

By Channel Insider Staff  |  Print this article Print

Return-on-investment calculations may have been more about marketing than substance in the past, but increasingly customers want solution providers to produce provable numbers.

Often, the it conversation starts in the IT department, which welcomes help in selling a new technology or product to management.

"Any technology purchase is political," said Judith Hurwitz, president and chief executive officer at Hurwitz & Associates. "Customers want solution providers to give them ammunition." Case studies, examples and research provide real-world data that can help IT sell the technology upstream to management, Hurwitz added.

Savvy solution providers, then, must stop selling technological expertise and start pushing potential results to give the IT department clear, concise ways to communicate with the financial powers about solid returns.

Lilien used to front-load its HP Platinum Partner status in customer meetings but abandoned that for a different sort of conversation, Osborn said. "I realized that we were really selling ourselves short: We solve complex business problems that drive business value," he said. "To demonstrate that, we instituted a policy that any deal over a certain size must have a defensible ROI."

Although the IT department can be an ally, solution providers whenever possible should move the ROI discussion from the IT department to the corner office. CEOs and chief financial officers are often unaware of a proposed solution’s potential impact, and the ROI conversation can bring clarity that will move a project forward, said Michael Drake, chairman and CEO of MSP (managed services provider) MasterIT.

"To a person, when we deliver the TCO analysis, the CEO looks at the CFO and says, 'I can’t believe these numbers,’" said Drake, adding that the litany of potential cost areas that are often overlooked includes supplies, mobility, downtime, third-party support, annual maintenance and updates, and more. "It’s not just the technology. And when they realize that, it is an 'aha’ moment for these executives."


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