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Apples and Oranges: Salesman vs. Trusted Advisor

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I've been noticing a trend lately that, at it's core, can really be reduced down to why we do what we do. Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone in our industry is about being a trusted advisor. To our advantage, we're "stuck" competing in this landscape in the fortunate position of being the orange to everyone else's apple.

What I mean by this is - similar to our clients and similar to our competitors, one of our key objectives is growth. But as I look around at others in our industry and some of the "so called" experts, I see this huge push for "sales". Over and over again, it's all about your pipeline. It's all about your marketing. These "experts" are mostly guys who built an MSP, sold it, and now command top dollar telling the neophytes in our industry how they should be doing it. And while there is value in some of what they're providing, too often it seems like they're filling the heads of everyone who'll listen with stories that the path to riches for the owner of an IT Services firm is all about sales. Which only ends up commoditizing things and dragging the whole industry down.

Just recently I was enticed to read an article by one of these so-called "thought leaders" with the lead-in of "3 things to help you successfully implement cloud services". Once in it, I realized it wasn't really about the cloud at all but rather 3 things to grow your business - with the key component being generating more sales!

Now don't get me wrong, bringing on new clients is always a great thing. And it definitely helps fuel our growth. But, it seems that over and over again, it's being pushed that sales should be the number one priority while the quality of services, even if number two, is way down the priority list. If you were new to this industry, this would be your takeaway. We built FPA up over the years based on the quality of service and our approach to partnering with our clients. Our core values include "Take Care of the Client", "Document and Standardize, and "Be Professional and Consultative". Selling is the antithesis of what we do.

Related to this push (for more sales) seems to be the push regarding the Cloud. Rather than considering what's right, wrong, suitable, and risky when it comes to deciding on the appropriate cloud solution for clients the industry seems to be saying sell, sell, sell. Get your clients into the cloud before someone else does. Make your recurring revenue before someone else takes it away. There are a number of companies now who only do cloud - actually, let me rephrase that - who only "sell" cloud. How could they ever provide an objective perspective? I could go on and on about this particular topic, but I'll hold back for now and share some of my perspective with you regarding this in my next blog.

In the meantime, keep an eye on the perspective your IT Service Provider brings to the table with you. Is he selling you something or is he providing you with options for a solution? Again, to me, this comes down to why we do what we do. Are we aiming to be a trusted advisor or are we aiming to make a buck? Are we your trusted advisor or are we a salesman? When comparing approaches, it really is apples to oranges. And, with all those apples to choose from - I'm comfortable with us being an orange.

Knock, Knock. Who's there? RIM. RIM, who?

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Knock, knock. Who's there? RIM. RIM, who? RIM! Research in Motion. Remember us? Will RIM executives be able to resuscitate the company, once the leader in smartphone technology, or will it end up as a punch line to a joke?

While they still claim over 80 million users, BlackBerry's market share plummeted from 44% two years ago to just over 11% today and still falling AND it's lost nearly 75% of its market value since last June. This week RIM told investors that it probably will face an operating loss for the current quarter and announced that it hired bankers from JPMorgan Securities and RBC Capital Markets to help it with a financial "transformation." The company did not say if the restructuring would mean selling itself in whole or part, or closing weaker operations such as smartphone manufacturing. But it does realize that drastic measures are needed.

BlackBerry's early success was based on its strength in handling mobile messaging and email. Now, this compelling reason has become common place among iPhones and Droid mobile devices. Other than selling on security, its existing customer base, and its own proprietary App World, what does it really have to offer the market that's unique? Will RIM be able to salvage itself before it's too late or disappear into the technology history books like Palm, Compaq, Borland, and Ashton Tate? Hard to say, but objectively speaking - it's hard to ignore the writing on the wall.

So, what does this mean to you if you're still using a BlackBerry? Is this something you should "hightail" away from? Analysts consider it unlikely that the firm might shut down completely, especially because many government agencies, including the Defense Department, still use BlackBerry devices. However, if your plan is coming up for renewal any time soon, it may be the opportunity to change before any interruption of service occurs.

Something to consider before the knock, knock joke emails start flowing and you miss them all because RIM's servers have shut down.

About the Author
Craig Pollack
Craig Pollack Blog Profile Image Craig is the Founder & CEO of FPA Technology Services, Inc. Craig provides the strategy and direction for FPA, ensuring its clients, their business owners, and key decision makers leverage technology most effectively to achieve their business objectives. Craig focuses on ensuring that the technologies implemented by clients are "business centric" and key components of their businesses' success, and that this approach is shared by every staff member of FPA.
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