After a summer of warm weather activities and vacations, it’s time to approach the fall with a renewed sense of purpose. Here are a few ideas to help get your business moving this fall.
Just as you may not have been spending too much time ruminating about bolstering your organization’s bottom line this summer, it is possible—or even likely—that neither existing nor potential clients have been considering their technology needs. Offering to perform technology check-ups and making appropriate recommendations will propel some in the right direction.
Maximize the potential for making recommendations that will truly resonate with clients and prospects by asking them about their biggest pain points during the assessment. Then, turn the responses into sales opportunities. For example, suppose a retailer whose store is in a tourist area were to describe his biggest problem as grappling with long queues of frustrated customers at the point of sale (POS) counter. In this case, you would have the perfect opening to promote a mobile POS system that would alleviate such headaches by allowing some shoppers’ transactions to be processed away from the counter. Similarly, if the owner of a professional services firm were to mention difficulties with document management, you could dive in with a recommendation for managed print services.
There is nothing wrong with traditional marketing channels and vehicles, such as direct mail, email, internet, and print advertising. However, fall is also the perfect time to kick marketing up a notch with special events that can serve as marketing hooks for your operation. Case in point: “lunch-and-learn” events where customers and prospects can learn about new technologies that could benefit their business, or even discover non-technology-oriented ways to do so.
There are some lucrative technologies and services MSPs can add to their roster as a means of increasing sales, without too much additional effort. Marketing services for SMB clients comprises one key example. The easiest way to chart these waters entails “white-labeling” solutions available from agencies and similar entities. For SMBs that want more—e.g., to expand their online presence and positioning without bringing on employees to do the work or attempting to use tools on their own—consider expanding your roster of services. Options might encompass search engine optimization (SEO)—i.e., keyword research and mapping; phone-tracking; title/description/keyword density analysis; and website conversion optimization reporting, among other possibilities. Search engine marketing/pay-per-click management services, including mobile ad campaign design/deployment; contextual display advertising design; evaluation, construction and tracking of pay-per-click campaigns, pay-per-click re-targeting; and campaign reporting, might fit under this umbrella too.
Another attractive add-on is disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). It’s a lucrative one: A report from 451 Research® Market Monitor estimates that the DRaaS segment as a whole will bring in revenues of more than $1 billion this year. Managed print services also rank here and are particularly enticing to the retail and professional services sub-segments.
No, it’s not a good idea to break into a new vertical in an effort to put summer sales further in the black. However, targeting prospects in sub-segments of vertical markets is a viable strategy. For example, if you specialize in the SMB retail segment, consider reaching out to Tier 1 and Tier 2 merchants, 55% of which, according to the “Store IT as a Service” custom report published by RIS NEWS magazine, are interested in outsourcing their IT services.
Where should MSPs anticipate that larger retailers will want to take advantage of store IT as a service? If the results of RIS NEWS’ research are any indication, the top two functional areas for which retail clients will be most likely to embrace the store IT outsourcing model are help desk (68%) and wireless networks (52%). Beyond these areas and payment processing (48%), other functional areas garnering major interest on the IT outsourcing front include mobile devices (45%), POS software updates and upgrades (39%), break-fix hardware and software (36%), and real-time analytics (36%).
In a related vein, if healthcare is one of your specialties and you’ve been working primarily with small hospitals, try branching out to offer services for clinics and laboratories. If serving the K-12 education market is in your wheelhouse, a move into providing some of the same services to nursery schools and daycare centers (especially those with multiple facilities) may be in order because some of the pain points, such as those centered on physical security, are almost certainly the same.
The bottom line is; the summer is a time for kicking back a bit—but not entirely at the expense of sales. Like a good sunscreen, trying out the above-mentioned strategies and applying a little creativity will keep you from getting burned.
Julie Ritzer Ross has been covering technology and its application in multiple vertical markets for more than 25 years. Her work has appeared in a variety of vertically focused publications including Transaction Trends, Hospitality Technology, Consumer Goods Technology, Integrated Solutions, Integrated Solutions for Retailers, Government Technology, RIS News and Vertical Systems Reseller (formerly Retail Systems Reseller).
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