Resellers have been asking me the same question for months: in the current economic climate, how can we justify spending money on IT to our customers? When businesses are struggling just to make numbers, spending more money on something like technology seems a hard sell. But there are very good reasons why your customers should be making investments in IT, especially in this business climate.
For one, it’s the area of their business that probably has the most opportunity to save money, both in the short and long run. Even organisations that trim staff numbers typically find they need to identify ways to boost productivity and streamline processes; carefully considered technology applications and investments can help.
The motivations for buying technology should be twofold. Firstly businesses should invest in the right technology to get the job done. Secondly, they must look at using technology that will optimise costs across the entire business, not just IT.
There’s a considerable body of research proving businesses that make smart investments in IT experience superior performance and profitability.
Consider the following points:
Be strategic about how you sell technology
Organisations can overspend by 20-30% by buying software programs piecemeal on an as-needed or project-based approach. Instead, look to provide big-picture technologies that are relevant to their business, and take advantage of volume licensing agreements through selling software suites. Many vendors now offer security, collaboration, office productivity and Unified Communications and other technologies all in a single suite. It keeps things simple, and protects your customers’ bottom line.
Try return before investment
The existing paradigm is that companies make an investment in technology and expect to get a future payback. However by financing smartly, you can actually have projects pay for themselves before the deployment is complete. Many vendors have financing programs at attractive rates, allowing lower monthly payments as opposed to an upfront capital outlay. Also look at taking advantage of licensing programs that allow customers to spread payments over time; that way the benefits of implementing the technology can actually allow the project to pay for itself before the entire investment is paid up. Move away from thinking about return on investment and instead push return before investment.
Choose the right delivery model
Evaluate the right mix of technology between on-premise, hosted and outsourced services. For example, consider enterprise email. A hosted email server will carry the bandwidth costs used by receiving and filtering spam rather than the business itself. But by outsourcing the filtering you can drive down bandwidth costs, reduce the costs of managing spam, and improve the end user experience for employees. To your customers, that’s a compelling case.
Use technology to save money
Look at some of the leading technologies that companies are using across industries to save money: server virtualisation, database consolidation and compression, automated server and desktop management and Unified Communications are all proven technologies that have helped organisations reduce costs. Put these sorts of reliable cost-reducing technologies on your list of offerings. The goal is not to drive down the amount of money your customers have to spend on IT, but rather to help their businesses save costs and boost operational efficiency.
Look in to leveraging optimisation models
There are a number of third-party studies that can model IT cost structures – consider them to be ‘health checks’ for technology solutions. Use them to get an objective assessment of the technology deployed and where efficiency (and costs) can be improved. Selling against this research is not only more credible, but more effective in the long run at solving your customers’ pain points.
The credit crunch is a trying time, but with challenge comes opportunity. Dig deep with your questions for customers, and really try to understand their business and pain points. Now is the right time to make the investments they’ve been debating, so seize the day!
John Bessey is Director of Small and Medium-sized Businesses & Customers and Partners for Microsoft New Zealand.
+64 9 362 5899