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Essential Business Server – Here we Grow!

April 22, 2008
Yesterday was an interesting (and exciting) day at the SMB Summit 2008 conference. The focus of the day was the new Windows Essential Business Server (formally code named Centro).

SBS focused consultants have a great opportunity here – but be forewarned this is NOT simply SBS with more licenses.

Essential Business Server will require some changes in your marketing/sales, relationship style and technical processes. The great news is you can do this.

Some of the changes you need to look at and make decisions around include:

  • Ramping up your technicians on a new product. Yes, we are well ahead of the curve with our SBS experience however this is a new product with new connection points and new interfaces. The sooner you start working with EBS, the faster you’ll build the skills to start talking to the on-site IT staff
  • Learning to deal with onsite IT staff – this one is big|
    We’ve all dealt with this guy in the smaller space. Many times we know that they’ve created a position for themselves, and hold the client at ransom. I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked a buseinss owner “what is your reasoning behind having a full time IT person. Typically the answers are:1) He’s the only person who knows our system
    2) We have so many technical support issues we need someone here all day every day.
  • Wow. I don’t think I need to point out whats wrong here, but I will.

    1) He’s the only person who knows our system.
    Mr. Customer – you are being held for ransom. This person is holding the keys to your company, and you need to change that NOW. Yes, I KNOW you don’t understand the technology, but you have the power and responsibility to yourself, your business and your clients to get the documentation in place so that ANY qualified IT Service provider can come in and handle the IT for you if/when something happens to that tech.

    You also don’t necessarily understand the ACCOUNTING guts – but would you run your company without having that information available,  and reports which speak your language.

    2) We have so many technical support issues we need someone here all day every day.
    When I hear this I look the client right in the eye, and say absolutely nothing. This isn’t a “sales trick”. I’m honestly BAFFLED that someone would hire a person to keep their company up and running, and then pay them becasue it ISN’T. Without fail, I see the lights go on as they think about what they just said. IF IT ISN’T WORKING – WHAT AM I HIM PAYING FOR?

    Now my point here isn’t to SLAM the onsite IT person or team. In many cased they are IMPORTANT. They may have genuine IT roles that are critical to the company. Application development, etc. And given a large enough company (based not just on bums in the chair, but many other factors as well), this person or team may very well add value to the business.

    In either case, it’s OUR responsibility to learn how to work WITH this resource. Especially in the ESB space. You need to become an asset to them – a freind – or they will fight you all the way. Thats human nature folks, and you can’t change that.

    I’ll be expanding on this topic in a post in the near future.

  • The sales process
    In my opinion, this is where the rubber meets the road. The sales process we’re used to in the smaller space WILL NOT CUT IT in the EBS space. The sales cycle is longer. The decision maker is more difficult to get to. Prepare to work through many more gatekeepers. Receptionists, IT staff, boards… this is where real sales training comes into play.Be prepared to provide PROOF of VALUE. It’s harder for larger companies to make a change. Change affects more departments and processes than you may be used to. Be prepared to move slow, and provide hard evidence. Yes, you still need to earn that trusted advisorrelationship, but less deals will be closed on a handshake or a one page letter or proposal.THis doeesn’t have to be HARD, and for some people its what makes their day ecxiting. Yes, you may depending on your plan for growth, want to think about bringing on a sales person at some point. This is my plan. Its scary, but guess what folks… growth is scary. Just like the first day we opened our doors for business. And we’re still here, so give yourself a pat on the back – PLAN, and… EXECUTE.
  • So these are just some of the things you need to think about, plan for and put in place in order to leverage and grow your business with EBS. Some will take small steps to get where they want to be. Some will take larger steps and make this their year to scale.

    In any case, its a good time for us SBS’ers. We’ve earned the right to claim this prize if we want to. We’ve proven that we “get it”, and can provide value and results to our customers. Welcome to the next step! If you are ready to grow… if you think  you might be ready to grow, or if you’ve already stared down the path, the time is now. The products are there, the community is ramped and pumped, and the customers in the larger small/lower mid spaceare hungry for IT done right!

    The time is now!

    (Note: I’ve reposted this entry as it was deleted by mistake. Sorry for the confusion)

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