There is a well known metaphor, “The Cobbler’s son has the worst shoes”.
This phrase is typically interpreted to mean that a Professional tradesman can spend all of his time and skill focusing on his work, but then neglect themselves in this same area of expertise.
I’ve often thought this metaphor applies to a lot of IT companies.
For instance, back when I owned an MSP I insisted on building and maintaining a server room that was almost showcase in form and function. The room was Air Conditioned, the Server and Comms Cabinets were securely locked, every piece of equipment was UPS Battery Backed, and the Patch Cabinet used cable management and was labeled accurately. When clients visited our offices, I took pride in showing them around our Server room.
Ok, I may be a self-confessed server room geek - but the principle is sound for all areas of your business.
For instance, how believable is it for you to try and sell your clients a business-grade Server Cabinet with a UPS if the client asks you if you use a similar solution and you picture your own server resting on a pile of books with the power cable hanging on for dear life?
Or if you offer a client a professionally fitted structured cabling solution over the Electricians cheap and cheerful (and 40% of the time not functioning properly) CAT5 laying, when back at the office your network consists of a random collection of self-crimped multi-colored Ethernet cables haphazardly laid across the office floor.
And how many of us are suffering with a Patch Cabinet that looks more like an explosion in a Spaghetti factory while recommending to our clients that they need cable management and a color-coded cable scheme?
Put simply, if you are offering your clients an organized professional solution of any kind - there has to be a compelling reason to do so. You sell a solution with confidence only when you believe in it yourself.
And if you believe in it, then you’ll be uncomfortable using anything other than the best solution for your own business too.
There’s another metaphor I often hear quoted in our industry. “Eat your own Dog Food”. I’ve never quite understood why Dog Food is used, and so replace it with the phrase “Drink your own Champagne” - but the idea is the same, and that’s if you are selling something that is good enough for a client, it should be good enough for you too.
If you’re talking to a client about SharePoint or CRM solutions, but still using a pen and paper or Microsoft Excel to organize your business - how convinced are you really about the solution you’re selling?
If you’re advising your client on asset tracking and licensing compliancy, but honestly don’t have a clue what hardware and software is deployed within your own business - why should your client work with you?
You can get by on “good enough” within your business, but then if you can, so can your client - and you know that “good enough” is often not what your client would really benefit from.
So don’t be the Cobbler who’s son has the worst shoes and try a sip of your own Champagne. Look at your business and treat yourself as your own client. Insist on implementing the highest standards within your business - make it something to be proud of - and I know that as a result, you’ll become much more comfortable selling that same solution to your clients.
As the former owner of an award winning IT Managed Service Provider, Richard Tubb works with MSPs to help them increase sales, take on employees and build up relationships with key industry contacts. You don't have to do it alone any more - contact Richard and have a chat about your needs and how he can help you.
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