I’d be willing to bet that in recent years, you’ve noticed the same shift in conversations with your clients that we have with ours. Customers are no longer satisfied with hearing “this is the latest, greatest technology; you should upgrade, and it’s going to cost you X amount of dollars.” Nowadays, the conversation with our client centers around the customer’s questions of, “What’s the value of this product and how does it solve my problem?” While there’s always an adjustment period to scale this new conversation throughout the sales organization, we’ve seen that these new conversations benefit both our customers and us: customers get real business solutions that address specific concerns, and we strengthen our relationships with them by demonstrating a genuine understanding of their needs.
At Convergent Computing, our goal now isn’t to sell the next, great upgrade, it’s to discuss with and show our customers how they can increase profitability and grow their businesses by leveraging advancements with technology. For example, we frequently are brought in by a Microsoft sales rep to help sell System Center to a customer. But rather than just discussing System Center, our preferred conversation is to talk about where they are as an organization, where they are from an IT perspective, and about the suite of Microsoft solutions (not just a single set of products). So in the end, it’s about creating business value – which we’ll know through listening and assessing.
One common customer problem we discovered through these types of conversations with customers is that many companies are struggling to identify the right communications and collaborations strategy along with an optimal set of tools to execute that strategy. Customers are telling us that there are so many tools and so little guidance that end-users are increasingly confused and frustrated about which tools work best for what needs. Thanks to our “new conversation” business model, we recently closed three communication/collaboration assessments (in the range of $20,000 – $30,000 per assessment) which was a necessary step in the process to help us understand the client’s needs by department and identify an overall strategy and set of tools. An additional value created is the connection we’re helping to build between IT and the business leaders.
When I think about the Microsoft Solution Provider partners, I see us as the link between clients and Microsoft – we are the experts who not only provide answers to product questions but also the knowledge and expertise to help clients select the right set of tools for their business needs and goals. One of the differentiators for partners is that we can offer a stack of comprehensive solutions. If we focused narrowly on only selling a product, we wouldn’t know the extent of clients’ needs. But, when we take the time to understand their problems and their goals, we can provide answers that maybe they didn’t expect when we started the conversation, but which make the most sense for their organization. With the recent extensive industry transformations, the better we understand our customers, the better our long-term business prospects are because our customers come to depend on us as experts who can solve problems, not just sell products.