A recent study by CompTIA® indicates line-of-business managers are more involved than ever in technology purchases. In fact, more than half (52%) of the companies participating in the CompTIA research used a business unit’s budget for a technology purchase in the year prior to the study.
MSPs need to understand this trend and develop best practices to sell to stakeholders in departments other than IT. While IT has been the traditional power center for technology purchases, decision-making has become decentralized, giving departments such as HR, marketing, sales, and finance a say in the technology that is used by their staffs. So if you, as an MSP, remain stubbornly focused on IT for business, you’re potentially turning your back on some lucrative deals.
The reason for this shift in balance of power is rooted in the cloud. Business managers who used to have to wait weeks or months for IT to approve a technology project now can simply bypass the approval process and, within hours or days, turn on a cloud-based service that fills an immediate departmental requirement.
This approach has inherent risks for businesses, of course, potentially creating some level of chaos in how IT is procured and implemented. But that doesn’t mean MSPs should pass up the opportunity to make a sale.
CompTIA polled 675 U.S. businesses for its report, “Considering the New IT Buyer.” Researchers found that almost half (45%) of respondents said ideas for technology in their companies originate from different areas of the organization, and that more executives are now involved in the decision-making process.
This doesn’t mean CIOs, who have the technology experience and expertise, are being ignored, according to Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA. They’re still involved in technology decisions. “But business lines are clearly flexing their muscles. It’s another strong signal that technology has shifted from a supporting function for business to a strategic asset.”
This new reality creates challenges and opportunities for MSPs. April says line-of-business managers don’t really interact with channel companies or even know much about them. “It’s incumbent on the channel to get their faces in front of line-of-business leaders.”
MSPs must approach business unit managers in the right way in order to succeed in selling to them. With that in mind, consider these best practices:
Even while approaching business unit managers, MSPs need to keep the big picture in mind. Advise your clients against a willy-nilly approach to IT that can lead to future problems. It’s easy for business units to turn on new services in an insular approach that can create interoperability issues between digital assets and, as a result, hinder a company’s progress. Develop an overall digital strategy for each client, and do your best to ensure whatever service they procure fits that strategy.
Pedro Pereira is a Massachusetts-based writer who has covered the IT channel for two decades. Recognized as one of the first journalists to cover managed services, Pedro continues to track, analyze and report on the IT channel and the growing MSP partner community.
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