Posts Tagged 'Sales'

Building a Community – Lessons from GFI Max

One of the ways you can tell if a good product or company is gathering momentum and becoming popular is by how much of a community is building up around that product or company. When people are passionate about something they want to talk to other likeminded people about it.

GFI Max LogoOver the past couple of years, GFI Max is one such company where I’ve observed a growing community of people who want to spend time together talking about the Max RMM tool.

Whilst this isn’t something that has happened entirely by design, it’s not something that happened by accident either.

GFI have helped facilitate their community by providing the GFI Max LinkedIn Forums – a place where Max users can chat, exchange ideas and give feedback to the GFI team – good or bad. Whilst these forums are monitored and members of the Max team participate in discussion themselves, they aren’t moderated in the sense that if a Max client has a gripe about the product or the company that they air with their peers – the GFI team don’t delete the message or shy away from it, they respond to it directly. This attitude towards being open and transparent hasn’t gone un-noticed by the SMB Community.

Members of the GFI Max LinkedIn forums are usually the first people that get to hear about new features and the forthcoming Max Roadmap too, further building a sense that the community is valued.

Earlier this year, GFI responded to a request from the Thames Valley Small Business Specialist User Group led by Chris Timm. The group, which has a high proportion of GFI Max users within it, was looking for a new sponsor, and GFI agreed to step in and help that group continue to grow.

All of these things on their own aren’t enough to persuade people to use GFI Max products. You still need a really good product and service delivery (which I believe GFI Max has). But if all things are equal, and an IT company is faced with choosing between two or more really good products – as is the case in the RMM market populated by GFI Max, Labtech, Kaseya and others – people tend to choose the product that their peers have recommended to them.

You can’t fake this stuff. Building a community of raving fans isn’t something you can acquire. People can tell the difference between a paid endorsement and genuine goodwill towards a company or product. It takes time and it’s not easy. Most IT vendors give up because it’s too hard. They want immediate returns. Those vendors will still sell stuff, because generally their product is good, but retaining clients and as importantly, having clients who will talk about their product to others? That takes commitment.

GFI Max Global Conferences 2011Over the next few weeks, GFI Max will be taking another step towards supporting their community and will be hosting their first GFI Max Global Conferences at four locations across the globe.

The UK Conference takes place in Oxford on October 20th.

The USA Conference takes place in Florida on November 8th and 9th.

Not forgotten, Australia gets it’s Conference in Sydney on December 1st, and Europe has a Conference on November 23rd in the Netherlands.

I’ll be attending the UK Conference on October 20th, and will be looking forward to getting together with a whole load of GFI Max users.

Are you a GFI Max user and attending too? Let me know!

 

Richard Tubb is an IT Business Consultant who works with ambitious IT companies who want to grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL) and the elected chair of the CompTIA UK Channel Community. You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.

Advertisements

Stop Writing Sales Proposals!

Hand writing on paperOne of the conversations I regularly have with my peers is about the Sales Process, and converting Prospects into Clients. During that conversation, the topic that always comes up is that of how we tackle writing Sales Proposals for clients.

Here’s my quick thoughts on the subject as someone who has learnt the hard way.

Writing a proposal is expensive. It’s time consuming. For most, it’s tedious. Sure, you can use products such as QuoteWerks that will help reduce the time spent on this, but at the end of the day you want to avoid it wherever possible.

There are some occasions where writing a proposal is necessary – where you genuinely can’t meet with the decision makers (a Trustee Board for a Charity perhaps) but typically, there should be no need for the proposal if you’ve sat down with the Decision maker – and by that I mean whomever signs off on the purchase – and gathered all the necessary information and answered all of their questions. That means understanding the prospects true pain (not just what they tell you), being aware of their true budget (if they say they don’t have a budget, ask them how much they’d like NOT to spend…) and understanding their decision making process (i.e. who else needs to be involved in this conversation).

More often than not though, a request for a proposal from a prospect is simply an avoidance tactic – they probably want to say no to you, but don’t feel comfortable doing so, or they’ve decided this project isn’t so much a priority for them after all. Whatever, if you agree to write that proposal, you’re giving up your time and energy with a virtually zero chance of winning the business.

Worse – many prospects ask for a proposal so they can use it as specification for the project that they can then use to shop around with your competitors. If you write this proposal, you’re in effect providing free Consultancy.

I see many people avoid calling the prospect on these facts, and agreeing to do the proposal anyway, even though they have a gut feeling that they’ll not win the work. I call this “The Fear”. It’s a fear that if you don’t agree to do the proposal, you’ll offend the client, or you’ll lose the work. Therefore it’s better to just agree, invest the time in writing the proposal, and hope for the best – however slim that chance is.

If you want to continue writing proposals for work that you never win, then continue to do this. If you value your time, then let the prospect know that by uncovering the real reasons they’ve just asked for a proposal.

One Litmus Test as to whether you should really agree to write a proposal is to give the prospect an honest ball-park figure for your work, and do be honest, don’t undersell yourself. If the figure is way off the budget the prospect has in his head, no amount of proposal writing will win this work. More often than note though, the prospect will be more honest with you (“That’s a little higher than I’d hoped”) and you can then go back to working on the budget requirements instead of writing and revising a proposal.

The bottom line is, your time is valuable, so don’t waste it writing un-necessary sales proposals. Instead, work on overcoming “The Fear” and only write proposals where you’ve got a genuine chance of winning work.

 

Richard Tubb is an Independent Consultant who works with IT companies to help them feel in control and grow their businesses. He is also a Microsoft UK Small Business Specialist Partner Area Lead (PAL). You can e-mail him at richard@tubblog.co.uk or connect with him via Twitter and LinkedIn.


Archives

Tubblog on Twitter

LinkedIn

Enter your email address to subscribe to Tubblog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 48 other followers

Microsoft Small Business Specialist Logo
Computer Weekly Blog Awards 2010 Logo
MSP Mentor 250 Logo
SMB 150 List Logo
International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners Logo
MyFreeCopyright.com Registered & Protected