How the Cloud is Changing Small Business Consulting and Other Tips for IT ProsDecember 11, 2012 11:02 am ·
Blame it on the economy, ever-changing technology or perhaps their own unwillingness to adapt to a new and different business climate, but the last few years have not been kind to small and medium business (SMB) consultants and IT professionals. Years ago, SMB consultants could rely on selling and installing hardware and software and servicing that hardware and software when it broke down to keep their business going strong. These days, cloud based technologies that merely rely on an internet connection have largely replaced traditional hardware and software installations, leaving SMB consultants with the need to reevaluate the way they do business.
“SMB consultants need to move away from being transactional to being relational with their client base,” says consultant and owner of Ranvest Associates Bob Nitrio. We sat down with Bob on last week’s EE Tech News Podcast, and he shared a few pieces of advice for other consultants and IT professionals in his industry:
The cloud and consultancy
According to Bob, SMB consultants need to focus on growing their business consulting skills in 2013:
“You need to grow your consulting skills and lead with business communications,” Bob says. “Many of the things we’ll be seeing in the near future—the really near future—such as hosted Exchange, hosted business apps, hosted Office 365 don’t rely on a huge amount of back-end infrastructure, they rely on an Internet connection. That’s not to say that everything we are going to be doing will be hosted in the cloud, but a lot of stuff will. Therefore, the diminished value of your skills as a network professional will show very quickly if you have nothing else to offer your clients.”
Rather than selling things to their clients, Bob says SMB consultants should be finding ways to solve business problems through technology:
“You should be selling solutions. By solutions, I mean an end to end product that creates some benefit for the client. Strategic selling of solutions is the way to go; and I define strategic sales as being something that for your client either increases revenue, decreases expense or improves productivity and morale. Anything else is basically administrative.”
Bob says that an SMB consultant who is relational rather than transactional will know his/her client inside out–including any compliance requirements that his/her client is subject to. He gives this example:
“If you have a relationship with a client and you know they are subject to certain compliance requirements, then you can say: ‘Here’s a printer with a walk up feature so that you can print your documents to your workgroup printer and when you get there, you put in a code and out pops your documents. That way they won’t be sitting on the printer for anyone who walks in the office to see.’ When you begin to know your client’s business better, then it’s very easy for you to go in and give them ways to improve through solutions.”
So what solutions does Bob recommend to his clients and what does he see as the biggest challenges facing small businesses in 2013? Listen to Bob’s full interview on the EE Tech News Podcast to find out.