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  #1  
Old 09-19-2008, 03:51 PM
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enfoldit enfoldit is offline
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Default Issue finding partners

So, I run a company that provides IT services. I find software companies with complex install requirements with respect to their customers' typical proficiency with computers, then I create a system architecture that ensures it runs the way it's supposed to. I make it available either on-site as a black-box implementation, or via Internet hosting. I pay the software company a commission on any service for a customer for about a year after they sign up. The company just needs to help me with the fist few installs, rather than helping the client. They will stop needing to help after 1 or 2 installs, which greatly reduces install costs.

In effect, I'm having a hard time paying people to help them. OK, I am trying to sell them "on" something, but a no cost deal that could eventually generate income, and reduce support costs is a good deal for many companies. Granted, it's not a good fit for people that have "Install and go" software, but I deal with a lot of software that is required to run a business, requires large servers, and has complex recovery schemes. Even these guys don't seem to express interest (no they don't have an in-house implementation team).

So I guess, I'm having a problem getting my value across or, hell, even talking to the right people. Any advice?
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  #2  
Old 09-20-2008, 03:15 AM
orion_joel orion_joel is offline
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Default

I don't know that i really understand what you are meaning.

One thing i have found with IT is that large companies are willing to be effectively extorted for huge amounts of money on support contracts, with the only reason i can see being that they want a big company to do the support so they know it is not going to be gone if a small company goes under.
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  #3  
Old 09-20-2008, 09:01 AM
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enfoldit enfoldit is offline
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OK, well, I guess communication may be my issue.... Let me break it down:
  1. Company XYZ makes software for a niche market. This software is designed to run a client's entire business. This software is usually easy enough to install, but difficult to keep running right, or the backup procedures/disaster recovery for this software is fairly complex.
  2. Company XYZ sells software to companies that typically have either limited or no IT departments.
  3. I partner with Company XYZ as the implementation guy. I can either do the install one time, send them a pre-configured system set up for them with all the maintenance included in a monthly fee, or host the entire solution on my computers.
  4. For each install or service agreement I get, I send Company XYZ a commission.
The upside for Company XYZ is that:
  • They don't have to deal with IT-related issues for these customers.
  • Since the implementation is handled professionally, they will get many fewer calls due to misconfiguration of servers/backups
  • Then only have to show my company how to do it once or twice, and then any other implementations that go through us will be hassle free
  • If they choose, they can provide the software on a SaaS model, and I handle licensing, license counting, and delivery. This means they make more money over time, and can reach more of the market.
  • A new, passive revenue stream
The downside (not that we've ever gotten this far in a conversation):
  • They need to take some time to do the paperwork
  • I generally ask for a list of prospective clients that are candidates for this service (the problem ones) and without a real long relation, people can see this as suspicious.
  • Many self employed people I've found to be perfectionists and typically do not trust anything about their product to an outside source.
So this is my dilema. Any advice?
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  #4  
Old 09-20-2008, 09:04 AM
LittleLord LittleLord is offline
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I think I get what you are after.

First, I would ask who (what department) you typically approach at the software company. If you are usually speaking with tech guys (engineers, developers, etc.), they may not see the value in the service you are trying to offer. However, if you approach the company through the Client Service department or marketing department, they may more readily see the value in your service. It's the job of the person that runs Client Service or Marketing to know how their software performs in the marketplace (with customers, against competitors, etc.). They should know if they have a strong or weak value propsition with regard to installation and customer acceptance/usage.

If you can position the value of custom installation services to them (even in general across the software industry) and then offer your USP (unique selling point), that may convince them.

Good luck.
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Old 09-20-2008, 09:51 AM
Joetrevison Joetrevison is offline
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Default Everyone needs a business plan

Everyone needs a business plan. It can be one page or 20 pages. Or even in your head. But the marketing plan which is part of it should probably be on paper and used.
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  #6  
Old 09-20-2008, 03:29 PM
LittleLord LittleLord is offline
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I guess the point(s) I was trying to make are:

1. Find an advocate (a champion) inside the software company that can help promote your service and sell you from within - a marketing or client service VP (if the company is big enough) that will recognize the value of your service. A developement manager or engineer thinks maintaining their software, upgrades, back-ups, etc. is easy.

2. If you have software companies that are target partners for you, maybe find a conference where they'll be exhibiting, presenting, or speaking and plan to attend. Figure out who runs marketing or customer service. Make your pitch more of a consultative pitch. Try to focus on them and their business needs (not technical needs) rather than giving them a rundown of what you can do. Maybe arm yourself with some industry research about new licensing rates vs. renewal rates for the type of software they sell. Get into a conversation with them about how they're business is progressing. Let them open up to you about their business challenges. Maybe they have an issue with license renewal rates. Maybe they have an issue finding qualified people to handle implementation, support, and upgrades. Maybe their at a point where they're trying to figure out if they're going to put more of their operating budget into beefing up support services and you're talking to them at just the right time.

Anyway, when you open up a dialog, position your company as a consultancy:

"We operate as consultant partners to software companies like yours and your customers. We take the burden of support, maintenance, upgrades, etc. off of you so that you can do what you do best -- design great software. So we can solve some of the issues you're struggling with right now. In addition to handling implementation of systems like yours, we:

- design maintenance programs to facilitate smoother back-ups and upgrades

- run a program to collect on-going customer feedback, synthesize this feedback and report findings back to you

- because we work so closely with the end customer, we're in the best position to identify which customers are prime candidates for beta testing new versions. We handle the implementation of the beta version and run a program to manage the beta tests in an orderly and well-documented method.

...in other words, offer them something they can't do well. They probably don't stretch themselves that thin. They're business is making sofware. Yours is implementation, support, and super-service.

All the best,
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Old 09-20-2008, 04:59 PM
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  #8  
Old 09-22-2008, 11:01 AM
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enfoldit enfoldit is offline
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LittleLord: Thanks. Great advice. Most of the companies I deal with do not have what most would consider a "mature" marketing... anything. However, you do have me thinking that it may be a whole lot easier to get in the door when I ask for a Business development manager, and the company actually has one to get on the phone.

The advice of trade shows is also a great one. I know when I do trade shows, I'll talk to just about anyone about anything.

Thanks much.

Joetrevison: You are, of course, correct. If I had good marketing plans, I'd probably be in better shape than I am. Right now.

I'm in the "buckshot" phase where I'm trying a lot different ideas to see which ones have any power behind them. I've tried exhibiting at trade shows, classified ads, mailers, radio ads, etc. The best results have come from tapping a niche market I serve, but the potential upside is very limited due to their being only about 80 prospects in that niche.

I guess this one is to try and create new niches to fill.
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  #9  
Old 09-21-2012, 04:19 AM
adrian_in9@yaho adrian_in9@yaho is offline
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Default re

The point of utilizing any managed storage service is to work proactively against disasters. Data is not infallible and therefore the best method of protecting it is to do so ahead of time. Implementing on-premise storage is usually available to prevent this kind of disaster from befalling your businesses vital data.
http://www.managed.com/cloud/
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  #10  
Old 01-10-2013, 04:35 AM
superb8effect superb8effect is offline
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Read these:
1) 10 Criterias for Choosing a Supplier for a Long-Term Partnership.

Other thoughts:
2) 11 Thoughts on Winning Business Strategies.
3) 4 Characteristics of a Strategy that are Conducive to Success.
4) The 36 Business Stratagems
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