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May 6, 2009
No more Mr. Nice Guy. If you’re a managed service provider targeting small and mid-market customers that have small IT staffs, here are two rather timely pieces of advice that I picked up at the Ingram Micro Seismic Partner Conference.
The first piece of advice comes from Paul C. Dippell, founder and CEO of Service Leadership: When trying to score business with small and mid-market companies that have dedicated IT managers — DON’T schedule the meeting with the IT managers. Instead, bypass the internal IT managers entirely and go directly to the budget owners, decision makers and business owners.
The reasoning: Why try to be warm and friendly with an IT staff that you may ultimately help to dismantle?
The second piece of advice comes from a conversation I had with Mike Jones, CEO of ETG, and Gary Wiseman, president and CTO of masterIT: If you do score a meeting with a business executive or budget owner, insist that the company’s internal IT team is NOT invited to the meeting.
In fact, hold the initial executive business meeting at your own office — where you’re on friendly ground. Now, you’ll be able to discuss customer needs and your value proposition without the customer’s IT managers attempting to sabotage the conversation.
In some ways, the advice sounds a little harsh. I’ve covered corporate IT issues and CIO perspectives since around 1992, so I don’t want to sound like I don’t see the value of internal IT resources. But Dippell, Jones and Wiseman make a compelling case for getting more aggressive, and hosting the initial customer conversation on your home turf — without inviting internal IT to the game.
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