Service providers are stall owners and the channel is the ‘marketplace’ of the IT industryby Richard Eglon
March 03, 2014
The IT channel is an emporium of technologies, products and services all being served up by distributors, resellers, system integrators, MSPs, service providers, and vendors alike. How does this marketplace of channel firms separate their market stall from the competition?
In an age where the customer is spoilt for choice with every decision put in front of them, IT providers must define a clear and concise proposition of what they sell, why they sell it and who they sell it to so that profits and expectations are met. It is very tempting for businesses to try and be everything to everyone. However, this approach can quickly dilute a brand. It also puts out a marketing message that suggests the company isn’t a specialist in anything but merely a jack of all trades and master of none.
Many new businesses are set up in response to their founders identifying a gap in the market after going through their own frustrating and painful experiences. Consequently, these businesses usually succeed because they truly understand the exact needs of the customer and can focus their solutions around them. Unfortunately not all companies get it right. In fact, we often see firms being too insular and focusing on their own needs instead of those of their customers - which usually lead to an unsuccessful outcome.
In a fast paced, ever changing sector such as the IT channel, the main challenge for firms is aligning the most relevant and up-to-date technology solutions to the business needs of their customers. This is where the most savvy and successful IT providers will not aim to be everything to everyone, but collaborate with specialist strategic partners to deliver very relevant, class leading, technology solutions based around the needs of the customer.
Technologies come and go but reputation is the bedrock of what all successful businesses are built on. With reputation comes responsibility and that comes through a commitment to your current and future customers. If you nurture that reputation by putting the customer at the centre of your business then you won’t go too wrong. If your business is built on the right principles your brand will succeed across many types of products and markets- just like Virgin, Caterpillar, Dyson, and John Lewis have done for many years.
Think of your business as a stall in a crowded market where people come to you because of how you differentiate yourself from the other stalls. It’s how you communicate and support new and existing clients that build a reputation.
Business success is a result of people buying from people. A brand name might get shoppers to visit a stall but it’s ultimately people manning the stand who close the deal with good customer service. At the end of the day, every channel business needs talented market traders who have relationships with strategic suppliers to ensure they can deliver what the customer wants time and time again.