There is a fine line between success and failure in my opinion. Most businesses in similar industries have much the same composition, but often differ in the way they describe their operations to potential customers, which is where the fine line exists. Approaching new customers with the right content, a well-defined product and a carefully crafted story is a major plus in winning new business.
In my view, one of the success factors comes down to the service provider’s ability to storytell and know who the audience is.
Service providers tend to have the technical expertise in-house but it’s the front end, customer acquisition that is often the weakest link. Part of the reason is that IT services are complex to explain. The services are mostly intangible, not easily articulated and require a large degree of trust, consulting and experience in order to diagnose the requirements and to deliver a proposal that will meet the expectations of the customer. It is difficult for an experienced account manager to convey the value of the services let alone an inexperienced business development manager.
Revenue growth is complicated to achieve for many service providers, not just in IT.
Because the IT industry is quite technical in principle, the tendency of providers is to talk in technical terms. The reason is probably because the service is often provided on technical equipment that requires complex design, configuration and management.
Most people making decisions are not technical people, therefore in depth discussions about technical items are only going to bore them or even worse make them feel uncomfortable due to their lack of knowledge.
Communicating the right language, solving business challenges rather than addressing IT problems might be a good start. Relaying experiences of others in similar situations helps the customer relate. A mix of content suits different readers.
Some good example of storytelling content includes case studies for purchasing officers or C level executives. White papers are good for technical directors and opinion pieces are powerful for thought leadership and as a learning tool for potential customers looking to learn. All this content helps to demonstrate trust through experiences documented and shared.
Developing the material that conveys trust is a serious commitment that takes many hours. But with regular attention, deeper and more rounded definition of the services provided and their positioning, the chances of growing revenue will increase.
When I meet with customers, it’s usually straight to the point without fancy lunches and drinks. I like to discuss their challenges and share some ideas on how to increase revenue. We usually talk about concepts that can help them grow. I guess it’s something along the lines of brainstorming, sharing experiences and establishing a genuine partnership, which can lead to a better outcome for all stakeholders. I love to see our customers grow and any ideas or advice we can share is value adding.
I often discuss marketing activities with customers that I meet, because I believe it is a critical aspect of business growth. One of the strongest marketing topics I discuss with them is storytelling. The stories that are told help potential customers to associate and position you with credibility.
Take the time and try to recall one of your best installations or customers’ experiences. Share the project from start to finish. Tell a great story. Was it a complex migration or business changing event that your team implemented?
We love stories like that. Give it a try.♦ End