Most dealers find the sales process for managed IT services a challenge. Selling them requires a much more consultative approach, and it can take months to get a signed contract. To be successful with managed IT services, dealers have to exercise patience, have the right expectations, and make sure they have the right roles filled on their teams.
Sales reps are usually in a position of having to convince prospects that, first, they have a real need for the services being offered, and second, that their organization is capable of providing them. That discussion needs to happen at the highest management levels.
The challenge to growing its IT services business for Impact Networking is changing the mindset of clients’ executive management. “It’s getting business owners to understand that IT can’t be looked at as an expense anymore. They really have to look at it as part of their operations,” said Patrick Layton, vice president of managed IT services. “The question I ask is, ‘How long can you operate if your servers and IT equipment stop working? Can you continue to run your business?’ They really need to start looking at this from a holistic approach–not just buying equipment when someone complains but putting a plan in place with a budget.”
Once they get the client on-board with building an IT plan, Impact Networking walks them through a their priorities, recognizing that most clients won’t be able to implement a plan all at once. The key is that the client has bought into a plan and has committed to Impact Networking to implement it. This helps to ensure a long-term relationship and presents opportunities to offer new services along the way as the client sees more and more value in the relationship.
Your typical sales rep is not equipped to see that entire process through. You need someone who can assess a prospect’s IT infrastructure, identify pain points and solutions, and then create and present the plan to the client. That person is often referred to as the virtual chief information officer (VCIO)
Michael Amiri, director of dealer services at Continuum, an IT management platform provider, said the role of the VCIO is the technical liaison with the client. That person is critical to communicating what the reporting means and the dealer’s recommendations for improvements. “The VCIO needs to be the quarterback of this whole relationship. They own the revenue. They own the relationship, and they have the technical acumen to identify these opportunities. They need to eloquently relay that to a customer why they are making the recommendation,” said Amiri.
Sometimes growing the IT services business depends on the dealer walking away from unproductive accounts as early as possible. It is important, then, that your sales rep and VCIO can identify those accounts before you have too much time and expense invested. Impact Networking has a simple approach to weed out clients that are not ready for their services. The company charges a network assessment fee to map out the client’s existing IT infrastructure and identify where remediation needs to occur. “If the client is hesitant to spend $500 to $1,500 to find out what they don’t know about their network, they are probably not a good fit,” said Layton.