When selling IT to clients, are you a builder - or an architect?

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This article appeared in the August 2015 issue of CRN magazine.

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When selling IT to clients, are you a builder - or an architect?

Are you in the business of delivering technology or are you in the business of helping your customers grow their revenues?

In my work with technology leaders, one issue is consistent – their customers are changing their view of technology from a cost centre to a profit platform. Whether CIOs or systems integrators, the technologists who are growing their influence see themselves as architects rather than builders or construction workers.

Here is a simple way to see how aligned your business is with your customers. Think about the content of the last three customer meetings. Where are your discussions taking place?

  1. Business strategy
  2. Revenue
  3. Cost reduction
  4. Fixing their technology
  5. Your vendor offers

There are two kinds of resellers that I see: Builder Resellers and Architect Resellers. 

Builder Resellers are asked to quote against other Builder Resellers. Client discussions are usually about their vendors’ offers and when they will deliver. They are focused on renovating the existing technology and building extensions to existing infrastructure. 

Architect Resellers create compelling technology roadmaps aligned to their customers’ business strategy and revenues. Architect Resellers are called in by their customers before they make decisions about choices. They are invited to discuss why and how rather than what and when. 

They are being asked to bring their imagination, creativity and insights. The insights that Architect Resellers can discuss are about their customers’ customers and how they will engage with the future blueprint to create a more consistent, systematic and trusted relationship.

Architect Resellers create and publish their intellectual property. It connects customer behaviour and adoption of technology. They build blueprints to help their customers understand where they are in the journey towards using technology, ultimately to grow new revenue that only technology can enable.

An issue like security is a daily discussion my clients have with their stakeholders. 

Architect Resellers are happy to answer the immediate security questions and concerns. When they have completed addressing the immediate security issue, they engage the customer in a discussion about their broader security blueprint. This discussion is framed through a ‘revenue for the customer’ perspective, rather than a technology discussion. 

One of my clients explained why their client needed an identity management strategy for this client’s customers to log in, so that they could place and track their own orders. This addressed issues at the business strategy, revenue and cost reduction.

As a result, the Architect Reseller sold an ongoing threat detection solution – which brought profitable annuity revenue – and then sold them a roadmap to getting their customers logging into their systems and impacting sales. The consequence of that blueprint? Their customer asked them to take the blueprint and make it into a solution.

The Architect Reseller took this roadmap, built it into a repeatable solution. They sent a survey out to the rest of their customer base to help them assess themselves against the blueprint. The result was a new pipeline of opportunity that the customers self-qualified themselves.

Where do you want to position your business for the future? Do you want to construct something after on quoting against other builders using someone else’s blueprint? Or do you want to create revenue opportunities and grow profits based on your customer’s business strategy?

Oscar Trimboli is an experienced speaker, author and mentor with over 30 years of experience in professional services, telecommunications and technology organisations. He will be speaking at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference on "What if everything you learned about leading change was wrong?"

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