Channel Partners

FAL 2016

For 25 years, Channel Partners has been a resource for indirect sales channels, such as agents, VARs and dealers, that provide network-based communications and computing services, associated CPE and applications, and managed and professional services

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N FEATURE CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION BY REVENUE NUMBER OF CUSTOMERS REVENUE HIGH HIGH LOW LOW HIGH $ MEDIUM $ LOW $ High Revenue – Focus Here CUSTOMER SEGMENTATION BY PROFITABILITY CONTRIBUTION MARGIN REVENUE HIGH LOW High-Revenue/ Low-Margin Customers (Optimize and move right) Low-Revenue/ Low-Margin Customers (Fire or move to right) High-Revenue/ High-Margin Customers (Nuture and retain) Low-Revenue/ High-Margin Customers (Grow and move up) High Profi t – Focus Here Nothing — not even low price — trumps relationships when it comes to winning and keeping business customers. This is not just wishful thinking. I hear it often, including in words of wisdom from a CIO who spoke at CompTIA's recent annual member meeting. It's good advice for solutions providers to take to heart, especially as they shift to selling cloud, digital and managed services that customers can't see or touch. Don't se Don't set it and forget it, or your N d Don't set it and forget it, or your N forge Don't set it and forget it, or your N or Don't set it and forget it, or your N your customers may forget about you. N ustomers customers may forget about you. N m customers may forget about you. N rget customers may forget about you. N a customers may forget about you. N you. Instead, pay even more attention to N stead, pay e Instead, pay even more attention to N ore Instead, pay even more attention to N ntion Instead, pay even more attention to N to those relationships — what you mean N hose those relationships — what you mean N relationshi those relationships — what you mean N w those relationships — what you mean N you those relationships — what you mean N mean to them, and what they mean to you. N o to them, and what they mean to you. N them, and what to them, and what they mean to you. N n to them, and what they mean to you. N to you. And don't just depend on longevity of N don't And don't just depend on longevity of N just dep And don't just depend on longevity of N longevity of relationships. relationships. If you're like most solutions N If you're relationships. If you're like most solutions N most relationships. If you're like most solutions N solutions providers, your average customer has been with you for seven to 10 years, says The 2112 Group. Certainly, that's enough time to get to know them, right? Not unless you can answer these questions about each customer: 1 WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS? What does the company sell? Who are their customers? Why do customers buy their products and services? How will they continue to deliver value going forward? It's important to understand each customer's business on a deep enough level that you can help them leverage technology to meet challenges and opportunities today and in the future. And remember, their business is evolving, too. If the last time you paid attention was a year or two ago, a lot may have changed. 2 WHO DO YOU KNOW IN THE COMPANY? Do you talk only to the IT director, or do you also know the C-suite leaders — CIO, CEO, CFO, CMO? Do you speak regularly to line-of-business leaders? Do you know the purchasing agents? IT managers are no longer making decisions about technology on their own; other business and technology users are driving and/or influencing the process, so you need to get to know as many stakeholders as possible. 3 DO THE BUSINESS DECISION-MAKERS KNOW YOU? If they were asked in a blind survey to name their top technology provider, would they list your company as No. 1? If not, you're probably also not part of the long-term technology decision process. You could be cut out all together or brought in at the eleventh hour when parameters, pricing and preference are already set. Ideally, you want to be the trusted adviser who is influencing your customers' plans as they are being made. If you don't know your customers quite as well as you thought: DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Research your customer's company and industry using readily available (and free) information, such as their website, industry trade publications or even Google Alerts. If your customer is large enough, you may also get information from a paid resource like Dun & Bradstreet. ASK AND THEN LISTEN. People are generally more than happy to talk about themselves, especially to an interested listener who might be able to help them. If you've done your homework, you can ask intelligent questions via live interviews, online surveys or better yet over lunch. INITIATE QUARTERLY TECHNOLOGY REVIEWS. Invite your customer's key stakeholders to attend these meetings, so you BY JENNIFER ANAYA Do You Really Know Your Customer? 22 CHANNEL PARTNERS FALL 2016

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