Building on the past two blogs Building A SharePoint Practice – Part I and Building A SharePoint Practice – Part II, the five R’s keep surfacing as the critical items that help you get to the table. Especially true for hardware companies that want to play in this space and all to often think their hardware brand will clench the deal – wrong! You only get so far based on your manufacturing brand recognition – don’t fool yourself. Several pieces of puzzle must come together for you to be successful in this business.
The five R’s came to me during a discussion a few weeks back with a manager regarding the marketability of his consulting practice. Flogging resumes and not understanding why deals were not closing, he was perplexed by the five R’s. In each situation I would ask the sales team and local management what the competitive situation was with local companies and what we felt their strengths were. Most always it was resumes, local talent, references and relationship. So what are they? No surprise, references, relationship, resumes, resources and rates – my analogy to the four Ps or marketing (product, price, place and promotion). You might be asking why wouldn’t a practice manager know this? Lack of experience? Powerless? He was well educated but it turned out it was a mix of both plus not listening to his team.
For example, the manager didn’t have rates that were competitive with the local market and didn’t have staff local to the client – clients incurred travel costs (twice as expensive as a local company!). The sales reps didn’t have relationships, they were viewed as box pushers only. The manager wasn’t allowed to provide resumes to clients, against company policy. Training budgets were decimated by budget cuts, his staff were not kept up to date. All these problems added up and made his team less marketable than the competition.
So back to the 5 Rs, lets have a look:
- References – Have you done this sort of work before? Are you in the game? Made the investment? Focused? Good at what you do? Focused on customer service? Get the picture?
- Relationship – People do business with those they know and trust – your technical staff if their good. Allowing them to build relations and focusing on key accounts will take the practice a long way.
- Resumes – Do you have qualified people? SharePoint and related technologies all over the resume? Retained your staff? Invested? Clients will look for a correlation between the resume experience (clients listed) and your references. Providing a body isn’t good enough anymore – the bar has been raised.
- Resources – Have you the bench strength? Do you sub and markup making a few points? Are you really in the game? Just a middle man?
- Rates – Based on the location of the client are you competitive? It’s a competitive market, commoditized as you know.
Sounds simple doesn’t it?
Don’t under estimate the experience, knowledge, energy, perseverance and network it will take to be successful. What I haven’t covered in my article is the politics, organizational barriers, long days of work and networking that took place over the several years of building the team. Managers that didn’t manage, sales people that couldn’t sell, misappropriation of funds, nay sayers, Microsoft Bigots, in fighting and other battles.
Part four by request.