IT service providers need to reconsider their Opportunity- and Key account management approach. Why? To stay ahead of the competition, protect their business and win new customers. This is the first blog in a series.
Did you ever hear about the frog soup story? If you add frogs to a cooking pot with boiling water, they immediately jump out. They aren’t stupid, they will get out and run for the hills sooner than you can say frog soup. And by then, you will not be able to tempt them into the cooker again. However, if you start out with lukewarm water and then add the frogs, they’ll be happily bathing, unconcerned. As you increase the temperature gradually, they become sluggish from the heat and will eventually die. Add salt, bit of seasoning, and bon appetit! In this white paper, I will share ideas how not to become part of a frog soup experience.
In other words: If you continue to cling to your current modus operandi and deny the changes on the market or even worse ignore them, you will suddenly be confronted with its effects and rapidly lose control of your own destiny.
Changes in the IT market
New economic forces, increasing competition, and critically demanding consumers force IT to be organized differently in a fundamental way. Not in terms of technology push only, but more and more from a demand-pull perspective. The process is no longer the holy grail, as we focus more and more on the needs of the people in the customer organization who keep the business going and develop it further. At its core, IT needs to contribute to simpler, faster solutions and improve the agility of an organization. It’s not about specs, budget, and time anymore, we need to distinguish ourselves in results, ROI, and time to market (external and/or internal)
I like to refer to Marco Gianotten’s book, ‘Digital Empathy’ in which he indicates that value propositions based on the classic SLA approach are no longer enough to be distinctive as a service provider. IT needs to get out of its bunker and reinvent their place in the market as well as their role within customer organizations. Necessary, because digitization is increasingly significant in making or breaking an organization.
Marco Gianotten noted the following in one of his latest blogs:
Staying ahead of the customer (buying process)
We notice that despite all the changes within the IT market, many organizations are still traditionally organized using rusty weaponry to enter a battle that can no longer be won. In general, service providers respond far too late in the customer-buying process. By then, the majority of the decisions have already been made and the extent to which they can influence that decision-making, is limited. If an RFI or even an RFP is the trigger to take commercial action, you are simply far too late. Most of the requirements are set in stone, a reactive strategy seems to be the only remedy to win deals. The focus will no longer be on your added value as a service provider, but on technical specs, features, availability, and price. Commoditization, the phenomena that your services are deemed identical to the same class as your competition, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you engage in the process by the time an organization writes out a tender, they have already entered a stage of convergent thinking and you are simply too late
Consequences for Opportunity management (shortly winning deals) are significant – building a case based on business impact rather than just pushing technology needs a different more pro-active modus operandi. More demand-pull and less technology-push.
The main challenge most IT departments and service providers face, is learning how to balance high tech (technology) with empathy, people skills, motivation, and inspiration. In other words, how do you present the added value of technology in terms of business impact and in a language businesspeople can understand. Not just in terms of ‘empty words’ but in concrete results, supported by evidence.
Connecting Business and IT
Today’s top performers in sales fully understand these customer requirements and connect both stakeholder groups: the traditional IT department and people from the business side of things. They bridge the gap between the two. It is imperative that they understand the business impact of the technology they offer and are able to combine it with the right stakeholder strategy – so they can co-create high empathy team-to-team engagements.
A more comprehensive strategy
Consequently, a more comprehensive strategy is needed to protect your business and win larger deals. How do you build empathic engagements? What is the level of reciprocity in these relationships? How do you team up with people in the business, without jeopardizing your current relationships with the IT department? How do you combine your knowledge with theirs? How do you co-create smart ideas and solutions? How can you understand and keep track of the decision-making process? Just a few considerations to contemplate in your new approach.
But first, Mindset
No, we don’t want to be the cooked frog. Nobody does. It starts with mindset that change is a continuous process and that you and your organization are part of it. Start with a situation appraisal of your current customer position based on reality, not assumptions. Gradually build a winning strategy with real value propositions that will impact your customer’s business. Motion5 has the building blocks, concepts, and ideas to make that happen.
Next time we talk about changes in how value is perceived from a customer perspective and how this will significantly impact your key account management approach. The best services for retention, creating business impact for growth. To be continued.