Five Ways to Determine What Differentiates Your Company
If you’ve been around the IT industry as long as I have, surely you’ve heard the terms “differentiation” and “value-add” more times than you can count. If I could give each of those terms a monetary value for each time I have heard them, I could have retired in comfort by now.
So why is it so many solution providers still don’t communicate enough to customers and prospects how they differentiate themselves from competitors? Especially those in managed services, where the technology is becoming commoditized, standing out in the market is critical. As cloud computing takes off, and solution providers are faced with multiplying choices for leveraging the model, that need is only going to grow.
Every customer who calls on one business instead of another has a reason for making that decision. When it comes to your business, do you know what that reason is?
If you don’t know, I encourage you to spend some time figuring out what differentiates your company – to really understand the value you deliver that keeps customers coming back to you. Here are five ways to determine your company’s unique value proposition and use it to market your company:
1. Know the customer. It’s important to understand the market in which your customer operates. What are the pressures, challenges and opportunities? Only by becoming intimate with these business factors can you deliver the best value to the customer. Remember, the customer is far less interested in the technology than meeting business goals. You can’t help them meet those goals if you don’t know their business.
2. Prove your value. With the knowledge you acquire about your customers’ business and market, you can develop and articulate a value proposition that will resonate with them. You know, for instance, that your clients in the medical field need a solid data security, backup and recovery strategy, so this requirement should be central to how you pitch those clients.
3. Highlight differences. You can’t operate in a vacuum. Even once you understand your clients’ needs and tailor a value proposition to them, you must do so in the context of what your competition offers. A customer who has suffered through numerous breakdowns will be far more disposed to working with a proactive IT services provider who offers remote monitoring and management than with a competitor on constant reactive mode. How effective are you at communicating this differentiator?
4. Create the message. Every company should have a positioning statement that serves as a foundation for what it tells customers about itself. The sales and technical staffs should know the message and use it to guide their decisions. Take the time to write it down, and post it on your intranet and break room bulletin board.
5. Prove it again. Never miss a chance to remind the customer of your value and how you differ from the competition. Take advantage of the reporting features in RMM tools to prove this to customers by explaining the work you do for them and how their business would be different without your services. Be sure to communicate this in conference calls and in-person visits.
At Zenith Infotech, we encourage our partners constantly to leverage our technology and resources to deliver on their value promise. Our most successful partners are able to define that value proposition, articulate it and execute on it, day and day out.
Maurice Saluan is VP-Channel Management for Zenith Infotech as well as seasoned sales veteran in the managed service arena. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor’s 2010 Platinum sponsorship. Find all of Saluan’s blog entries here.