Posted by: peterhact | July 6, 2011

Business: IT Companies are a “Dime a dozen”

Most of the clients I speak to tell me that the reasons that they deal with certain companies is because they know them, they know their products and, although there may be cheaper options out there in the Canberra market, they don’t have the time or money to waste whilst the new guys train their techs on the job.

IT Companies are, in their eyes, a “dime a dozen”.  If the company that they are dealing with happens to disappear next year, they will have at least 5 or 6 clamoring to take their place.

Why am I talking to them? I work for an IT company, and have been working in the Canberra market since 1991.  I am old school, I don’t buy lists of companies, I use the yellow and white pages. I am not averse to cold calling, and I spend a bit of time researching my clients before I call.

From a business perspective, what makes a good IT provider nowadays? Why do people come to my company when there are so many other companies out in the market? I like to think that experience plays a part in a business’s decision to partner with me.

It isn’t my appearance, though that helps, it isn’t my attitude, though it is a factor, It is down to one small thing that I do and that I am good at – I like to listen to my clients, I like to have them tell me about everything that they think is important to them. I listen to them tell me about the ideas they have for their company, to grow, to become profitable, how they would love to have these new technologies for their staff to become more efficient, but at the same time, there is no need for un-necessary spending.

When they have told me everything that is important to them, and I understand the company as if I am an employee, we can start to talk together about how we can improve the business and avoid wasteful purchases, technologies that aren’t yet of benefit to their organisation, they may be in the future, but there is plenty of time for planning.

I have a story of a client I dealt with many years ago who wanted to use MYOB in his office. He had spoken to many IT companies for a broad view on what to do, but they were all telling him that his computers were too old and slow. They couldn’t possibly run the program, he had to replace them all and they would be happy to quote him for the new equipment.

I found, after talking with him, that the computers he had were only a year old. They were more than adequate to run MYOB, in fact, they would run it well, meet his needs and probably meet them for a few years to come. I could have told him that they were inadequate  – I could have sold him a completely new system, but I told him the truth. I walked away from a sale, and, I thought, a new client.

It was a surprise when he contacted me about a scanner, a printer and a fax machine (this was a while ago). He had several models in mind, but he wanted “his IT guy” to advise him of the best solution.  This was the first time I had ever been called that. I was another sales guy, not the best in the business, my sales figures weren’t great. What was great and was apparent was the numbers of repeat customers I had. Over time, the numbers of clients who came back increased.

What has this got to do with small business and IT? Why have I told you about my experiences?Am I “touting for business?” No. I wanted to give you an idea of who I am. When I write in my blogs, contribute to other blogs, industry magazines and other forms of written communications, I want you to know that what I write will always come from me, not someone who went to university, someone who has learnt on the job. I have learned on the job. Every day, I learn something new.

The fundamental thing that a business owner needs to consider is whether the IT provider they are using has their best interests at heart. Do they care what the business owner is trying to achieve? Does the owner really need that bit of technology right now? will it hurt if they wait a couple of months?

IT Companies are a “Dime a Dozen”, but sometimes there are Dollar companies hidden amongst them, companies that care whether you succeed or fail, as their fate is intertwined with yours – after all, customers are their life and business, if they don’t look after you, they don’t get the chance to grow too.

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