Talk Solutions, Not Products Develop strategic, business-side relationships Start dialogue outside the IT department Inspire larger transactions Realize higher customer retention rates Experience higher services mix, gross margins and operating margins
Listen to Your Engineers Use your closest ongoing link to true customer pain points wisely Seek a real-world perspective on appropriate architectural designs that can be deployed, again and again Reward insight and advice about how ongoing maintenance costs be turned into new budgets
Select Vendors Selectively Examine their communications strategy What is your resource commitment and what’s the quid pro quo? Field compensation strategy Tiering policies Value vs. volume philosophy Is the margin worth the effort?
Partner Strategically Test before you invest: Bring new technologies, products to services to customers in conjunction with another VAR or application developer Set ground rules for collaboration, especially when it comes to customer touch points
Brand Thyself, Not Just Suppliers Engage in two-way dialogue with customers and influencers Create a marketing message for your company’s entire value proposition Explore the worlds of Web 2.0, esp. blogs and social networks
Conclusion: Think Long Term Understand key performance indicators and how much they can bend Take focused, phased risks Create a business plan — so you know where and when you should diverge Require (and recognize) staff buy-in