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Q2/2011 Differentiating

A Fluent Moment

Did you know…

Some of today’s top business leaders are applying basic feature and benefit sales methodology when trying to institute change in their organizations. They know that they stand a better chance of getting commitment to and acceptance of their ideas if they show people how they will benefit from them.

What Makes You Different

If we want to truly add value as resellers, then we need to differentiate our business practices somehow. 

For those of us who have been in this business for some time now, we face a great challenge as the market has shifted from IT spending that made a statement, to IT spending that impacts the income statement. Gone are the days where IT initiatives were necessary to build business. Now IT departments are under the gun to work within monetary restraints or budgetary restrictions. CFOs are clearly tightening the screws, and IT projects absolutely have to show a positive, high-impact — the sooner the better. What does that mean for those of us in the reseller space? For many of us, it requires major paradigm shift in the way we think about our end user and how we approach the fulfillment of their IT objectives.

So how do we complete this shift from volume alone to value? Based on our conversations with resellers like you who are transitioning successfully, as well as research into the current reality facing us today, we’ve come up with a few suggestions.

First: Don’t be afraid to walk away from potential business if it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a good fit for you. How do we know whether a potential client is a “good fit?” Effective profiling! Profiling in this context is that homework you do on a targeted business before you contact them for the first time. Powerful profiling involves taking a close look at how they do business, what their vision and mission are, what the business plan and goals are, and what their track record (where available) is. By putting some good old-fashioned homework into our real work, we can quickly and efficiently target only those verticals or businesses which present the greatest potential for productive business partnerships.

Second: What SMB or enterprise sectors are experiencing growth in the economy (and is your strength in SMB or enterprise)? A little market research goes a long way. There’s a reason why large firms looking to product launch spend millions on marketing and market research. Very few products and/or services can stand on their own and become a star in the marketplace without some sort of research and promotion. A great idea is only great to the innovator if no one knows about it. By positioning yourself as a value-add to growth sectors, as a partner who knows the current economy and understands how these growth sectors fit into that economy, you can differentiate yourself from the other resellers in your geography.

Third: Understand why businesses make the decisions they make and the criteria that must be met in order for a decision to be made. Perhaps this is a little easier when looking to expand on existing business, but it is time well invested in any consulting engagement. Ask yourself today, “Do I know what the decision-making process looks like for _____?” Could you map out the decision-making continuum and who/what is involved in an IT investment decision? If you don’t, what will you need to get the information you need? Gaining that level of understanding will get you further down the road towards adding value as opposed to just filling orders.


A common concern among the many resellers we’ve talked to is the lack of time to complete these pre-contact activities. That general concern leads us to this conclusion: If we want to truly add value as resellers, then we need to differentiate our business practices somehow. What’s the definition of differentiation? It’s doing things in business that your competition is not doing. Effective profiling, vertical market research, and understanding business decision making at a company level will all help you as you distance yourself from the volume pack and become the value leader. As you build your business, remember that value and volume aren’t mutually exclusive. Build the one, and the other will follow.

Consultative Corner

How effective are you in the SMB market?

entre dicho y hecho, hay gran estrecho

The Spanish have a phrase: “entre dicho y hecho, hay gran estrecho” or “there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.” The difference in this place is how effective we are in the SMB marketplace in educating our end users on the concept. We pair the features of our offerings with the benefits, features like consolidated purchasing or vendor standardization. The paired benefits include streamlined and efficient purchasing and improved service turnaround, among others.

So how well are we painting this picture to the smaller business? If you deal in the SMB marketplace, do you understand the reality of doing business there? If you are an SMB as well leverage your firsthand knowledge. Whether you are or aren’t, if you service the SMB segment, then there are a few key success factors you need to be aware of:

  • First, know that “c-level” in the SMB space may well be one person. That SMB CEO may very well be the CFO, CIO and VP of Sales as well. Some would look on this as a problem. We see it as an opportunity for a managed services/output strategy solution. How do you see it?
  • Next, know that SMBs make up over 95% of the number of enterprises functioning in the US alone. They employ approximately 60% of the business workforce. What does this mean? Fierce competition, opportunity, and a growth industry that you can focus on to increase your own productivity. The dollars are there, and tying your offering into solving real business needs will help you get them.
  • Finally, players in the SMB marketplace are entrepreneurial and cutting-edge by nature. SMBs want the enterprise solutions at small business prices. Those demands can’t always be met. That’s where you come in and fill the void. Proper positioning for you in the SMB space and how you differentiate yourself will determine your success.

A Fluent Vision

Whether your sales infrastructure needs to be built from scratch, re-engineered, or simply re-invigorated; AFV is the answer. AFV can help you create A Fluent Vision.

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