Some pointers that can put you on the fast track in your journey from solutions provider to service provider.

Channel Partners

January 26, 2015

4 Min Read
7 Tips for Building a Professional Services Success

By Joe Pelonero

As a solutions provider, developing a professional and training services practice can be highly profitable in addition to providing a way to differentiate your business. But getting traction selling and marketing these offerings is often a struggle for many resellers. The things that have made you successful selling hardware and software are often at odds with selling professional and training services.

There are many key areas that will need to be defined by you and your team as you make your journey to service provider. The tips offered here can help put you on the fast track.

1. Define Your Core Differentiators

Of the seven core tenets to building a successful professional-services practice, knowing how to differentiate yourself from the competition is high on the list.What are your core strengths — do you service a particular size customer or a specific vertical industry? Do you have a plan for what you are offering and why? Will you define and create your own services packages or outsource them? Define those qualities that are unique to your offering and set you apart from the competition. Remember, your value comes from being a trusted adviser whom clients can contact to help them resolve these issues.

2. Understand Your Audience

Using internal and external resources (e.g., SEC filings and Web search), research your clients’ pain points and consider how your offering can resolve their business challenges. Additionally, familiarize yourself with competitive solutions so you can speak intelligently to the pros and cons of your solution.

It is also important to understand each client’s decision-making process. Knowing details such as that the CIO only gets involved in larger purchases or that the HR department allocates budget money for employee education will help optimize your sales and marketing efforts from the start.

3. Skip the Minutiae

Focus on the end result of your offering rather on the specifics of what you do. Clients are more concerned about the value to them than in what you do to get there. Pre-sales technology assessments are often good tools to start those conversations.

4. Train Your Sales Team

Does your sales team know how to communicate the value of your new offerings to your client base? Conversations are no longer about equipment and price, but rather educating clients on how services and training would impact productivity and add value to their bottom line.

5. Practice Continuous Learning

Companies in every vertical market are looking for partners who can help them navigate new technologies, stay in compliance, improve efficiencies and help them compete in the global economy. Continuous learning and investigating new technologies will help you have those conversations with prospects and customers. Refresher courses and recertification keep you up to date with rapidly changing technologies. It also establishes credibility during the sales process and enhances professional and training service delivery success after the sale.

6. Go Beyond Referral-Based Marketing

As a solutions provider, are you familiar with the latest best practices for direct marketing, social media, demand generation or managing sales leads? Websites should be compelling and include client success stories. Regular communication with your clients through emails, newsletters or blogs (check with vendor and distributor partners for marketing resources before designing your own) can help build your brand, which familiarizes prospects with prior to a face-to-face engagement and shortens the sales cycle.

7. Tap Into Industry Groups and Influencers

Knowledge is not only gained in the classroom but also by leveraging the expertise of peers. Many vendors, distributors, peer groups, and industry associations provide forums for sharing ideas, asking questions and discovering best practices to improve your practice. Many vendor partners also have communities with solution-specific information.

The demand for strong professional and training services continues to grow among your customer base. Applying the seven tips outlined above will shorten your learning curve and help you more quickly add new revenue streams to your business.

Joe Pelonero is a senior sales manager for North America at Ingram Micro, responsible for the development of all sales programs and initiatives for the Professional and Training Services Division. Pelonero has worked for Ingram Micro for a decade and has 20 years of experience in the IT industry.

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