Knowing how to sellBy Frank Ohlhorst | Print
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The paths to growth may vary, but growth is a must for solution providers with any hope of success.
This approach is evident in the company’s long-term client relationships, Poddar said. "Even companies that have very niche offerings must sell, and sell quickly before the market changes and competition catches up.
A company with profound IT skills and no sales capabilities will not flourish." Dadian agrees. "Some people have the ability to do it all and lead a company to substantial growth and prominence," he said. "I am a self-taught technologist. I understand the technology we deploy; you just don’t want me deploying it. My background is asset management and logistics. I understand business and processes, and I use this to understand the client’s needs and then design the appropriate technology solution to apply."
Dadian added that it’s important to understand one’s role within the company. If you are a technologist or salesperson, you should hire an experienced CEO, and sales management and project management people, he said.
Touchbase’s Maynard said a company should be led by market-focused people, as opposed to technologists.
"The company needs a very strong technical backbone, but the front of the organization needs to be highly attuned to client and market needs, which means that too much of a technical approach will limit the company’s success. Clients are interested in what the technology will do for them, not what the technology is."
As these solution providers demonstrate, building successful practices requires a focus on serving customer needs, regardless of the technology employed. For the most part, solving a business problem or building a solution needs to be presented as a process, and the technology is only part of the mechanism to make it happen. That is in stark contrast to many smaller solution providers that believe they are, foremost, purveyors of technology solutions.
Trust and talent
One common thread among successful channel companies is the recognition that success largely hinges on employees and how they are nurtured.
"The focus on human beings is one of the most important tenets of building a successful business," said Neudesic’s Marshall. "Talent is always in demand and talent works like gravity, attracting even more talent. Simply put, the best want to work with the best, and that culture offers a reward beyond compensation. Talent does deserve monetary rewards, and that can be accomplished using equity sharing."
In addition to gathering talent, it also helps to build trust among employees by knowing what responsibilities to give them, said Poddar.
"While it is hard to determine whom to trust, apportioning responsibility by degree is a good litmus test," she said. "During the span of any given year, you can tell which employees go beyond what is expected from them. There are key indicators beside the hours they work, such as their willingness to accept additional responsibilities.
Some employees, she said, are driven by emotions and show great care in their duties. "Some naturally develop instincts for making strategic decisions, while others develop it through hard work and/or continuing education."