January 2014 - Mosaic NetworX
Our travels are nearly complete for a while. After some fun in the sun in Hawaii and a quick trip to Miami, we’ll finally head home tomorrow morning for some much needed rest. We’ve met a lot of amazing people, made some great connections that should lead to mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships, and we leave with zero regrets (except maybe not winning the drawing for the Ford Mustang earlier this afternoon)!
That said, perhaps the best thing about conferences like the ITExpo and Pacific Telecommunications Council Conference that we attended in recent weeks is the chance to become more and more familiar with the emerging trends and technology affecting our sector in the future. There is a pulse of energy–a hum that is turning into a roar–letting attendees know in what directions the Hi-Tech sector is headed and what the impact will be from local communities to international markets.
As luck would have it, the upcoming Channel Partners Conference in Las Vegas is the perfect opportunity to take this new knowledge and forge meaningful partnerships for the future. And since the Conference is still almost a month away, we have plenty of time to take in all that has happened in the last couple of weeks and work out a real strategy for our organization. Where are our new opportunities coming from? Are there challenges we face that we aren’t addressing head on? How can we leverage our core expertise and offerings to be a more efficient, more effective organization for our customers and clients?
Here are six things we are looking forward to at the 2014 Channel Partners Conference and Expo at the end of February.
- Seeing where the Channel is thriving. Leveraging the channel for partnerships, amplified sales, and promotional efforts is a mainstay of successful IT and telecommunications businesses. Having a chance to interact with both those working in the channel and those supplying the goods and services is a great chance to further understand where technology is headed in the enterprise.
- Presentation of the winners of the 2013 Circle of Excellence. The Channel Partners Conference cuts straight to the chase in honoring exceptional members from the previous year. This year’s conference will kick off with almost 3,500 attendees acknowledging the most recent winners on Wednesday afternoon.
Sessions at the conference are instructive about the direction IT is headed.
Image courtesy of Tech.co
- The innaugural Channel Partner Awards dinner. Wednesday night will be a chance to see which partners, large and small, are putting together excellent solutions for clients and customers. While it’s nice to honor others, we’ll also be taking note of what ideas and solutions are providing value in other places.
- Shark Tank! Thursday afternoon a group of channel partners will take the stage to answer tough questions about why their offerings are worth selling. While this should be a fun spin on the popular television show, it’s going to be great to hear why these services and products may be a great fit for partners to sell.
- Selling Techniques Luncheon. On Thursday there will be two luncheons focused on selling new IT solutions. One will focus on communication sales, while the other will address Hybrid Cloud selling. We’re always interested in hearing how our colleagues are addressing value instead of simply talking about cost when it comes to IT sales.
- Las Vegas. Any list about a conference in Las Vegas wouldn’t be complete without at least a little discussion of the city’s attractions! The conference is being held at the majestic Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino. The Venetian has great gaming and amazing restaurants, along with welcoming rooms and a gracious staff.
The Venetian is a great place to attend a conference in Las Vegas.
Image courtesy of Vegas Bellhop
We’re thankful for the respite after attending two amazing conferences in recent weeks. But we are also thankful that we’ll soon have a chance to meet with manufacturers and service providers responsible for creating and growing markets in fascinating new areas and arenas. From telecom to cloud computing, from VOIP to network security, the 2014 Channel Partners Conference and Expo is going to offer plenty of new knowledge and partnerships to all those who attend. We can’t wait! Until then, click here to learn how Mosaic NetworX works with channel partners to deliver amazing solutions to clients and customers!
I met Katherine at an IT conference last spring. The conference was focused on virtualization technology and cloud solutions. I was there to learn more about remote desktop solutions and, specifically, suggested best practices for supporting the client’s hardware in a VDI environment. Katherine and I began chatting before one session and I asked about her business, and I learned that her five person organization provided virtual desktops to small businesses. Their largest client was a nine person law firm, while the average client size was five users. That seemed small to me so I asked how many total clients they had. “About 1,000…,” was her response. I was impressed that her five person operation was supporting so many users, so I immediately inquired about their sales and marketing. Her answer was shocking:
“We don’t have sales and marketing. Our first client was a friend of mine. Every client since then has been a referral from an existing client.”
Getting referrals for your business is one of the best forms of customer acquisition. If your clients and partners are sending potential customers your way, they are doing so with an endorsement of your organization. Add in that referrals carry very little cost for you and it would be hard to find a better form of customer acquisition. Most business owners recognize this fact, yet struggle to consistently earn referrals. Here are six tips to help you earn more referrals.
- Don’t pay for referrals. There are many people that think a referral program that rewards the referrer with a discount on services or outright payment are a good idea. I’m of the thinking that this is a terrible idea. Referrals are most powerful when they are genuine, and paying for them undermines their validity. Offering a gift, discount, or compensation for a referral is paid marketing. It might work, but your referral pipeline will be stronger if you focus your energy on providing the great service that leads to real referrals.
- Exceed expectations. The single best way to generate referrals is to provide a service or solution that clients love. People like to talk about the products and services they love everywhere, from networking events to neighborhood barbecues. Is your company providing something people love? Why not?
- Lead the conversation. From Twitter to Facebook to regular blog postings, any avenue you can find to create a conversation is worth spending time on. Why? Because it allows your listeners – clients, customers, and partners – to share your work with other people that may not be familiar with you. A client liking a Facebook post or retweeting a blog post will put your company name in front of new people. Even better, those new people will be hearing about your company through a friend or trusted colleague, giving validation to your organization.
- Find a networked sector. There are many benefits to focusing on a specific vertical or market. In verticals that are heavily networked (such as legal services where attorneys interact with other attorneys on a regular basis), the volume of referrals is much greater. This isn’t to suggest that your entire business should shift focus to find a heavily networked market to enter, but if you want a pipeline full of IT referrals, you should be aware that professions that interact with each other often will allow for referrals more easily than those that do not.
- Give to get. If you have clients that provide services that do not compete with your own, be eager to refer them to others. Rather than simply telling a friend in need of a bookkeeper about one of your CPA clients, post a recommendation on Yelp! or Facebook. Make your referral loud and your reach as broad as possible. The client you referred will take notice and appreciate the kind words.
- Ask for them. To this point, you have not paid for referrals, provided excellent service, given existing clients a way to talk about you, referred your customers to others, and found a sector where potential clients talk to each other all the time. You’ve created an environment for your pipeline to overflow with referrals by making it easy for your clients to refer you. The last step is to nudge them to do so. Whether you are in a quarterly business review with a client or sending a short email, you should be proactive in asking for referrals. Simply saying, “You know, we build our business almost entirely by word of mouth. I think we’ve been doing a great job for you. Do you think you might introduce me to two or three colleagues that might benefit from our services?” or, “I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you went to that sector networking event last week. Did you talk to anyone that might benefit from our services the way you have? Would you feel comfortable making an introduction?” I’m sure your first response is that asking for referrals this way might be awkward. My reply is that if you try it, you will be shocked with the positive response you get.
The math is simple: happy Customers means more referrals and more sales.
Image source: Webindiasolutions.com
Your clients are just waiting for the opportunity to refer you to friends, colleagues, and partners that can benefit from working with you. Even though they may refer you on occasion, the best way to get them talking about your organization more often is to follow the steps above. Just as building a sales pipeline through cold calling or brand marketing may take time, this method won’t result in dozens of new clients. However, following the steps above consistently and over time will not only get other people talking about your business, but will also build your brand within the community. Even better, as your client base grows, the number of referrals you receive will grow as well, to the point that, like Katherine mentioned above, other sales and marketing efforts are entirely unnecessary. Click here to learn how Mosaic NetworX uses superior service to build a strong referral pipeline and growing customer base!
Only one-quarter of small and medium businesses are working with a managed services provider focused on management, monitoring, and support. Three-quarters of small and medium businesses only engage IT support in the event of an issue where reactive service is called for. In other words, 3 out of 4 SMBs lack internal IT AND ongoing IT support.
If you are a managed services provider, this is great news, right? 75% of your potential client base is operating day to day with absolutely NO ongoing IT support! All you need to do is get in front of this massive pool of potential clients, demonstrate the value of ongoing managed services, and start signing contracts for that all-important monthly recurring revenue, right? Woohoo!
Are you prepared for the future of managed services?
Image source: TheBusinessAdvices.com
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“Matthew, I need to see you in the conference room.”
Matthew was no fool. The words on his screen from the Help Desk Support Director could only mean one thing. Matthew took a few moments to gather his personal items to make his inevitable exit easier after the meeting was done. Sure enough, he was being laid off after a scant two months on the job. His supervisor praised his technical ability but said the decision ultimately came down to his ability to relate to customers. As the meeting was wrapping up, his supervisor told him, “I think you’d be excellent on a large company’s internal help desk. You are capable of so much… but this role is customer facing and we can’t have the clients feeling like you are irritated or put off with them when they ask for help.”
Matthew understood. He thanked his supervisor for the opportunity, shook his hand, and headed out.
Listen and empathize to fix the problem.
Image courtesy of National Career Service
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I admit to feeling a little spoiled! With so much of the country experiencing cold temperatures, snow, and sleet, we’ve had the great fortune of spending the last couple of weeks in much warmer climates. After last week’s PTC conference in Hawaii, this week we get to head to the east coast for the IT Expo! While we are thankful to have a chance to see some old friends and meet new ones this week in Miami, the real value at ITExpo is in learning how new and emerging technologies can be linked together into robust and powerful solutions not just for clients, but for providers and partners as well.
Here are eight things we are excited about for ITExpo, starting tomorrow January 28th through the 31st…
IT Expo 2014 in Miami, Florida.
Image courtesy of TMC Net
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