It’s something that any salesperson in any business needs to have with his prospective client.
Without credibility, making the sale is an uphill struggle and some might say, impossible.
For any IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider (MSP), credibility with a prospective client is earned in a number of ways. Showing knowledge and expertise with a product or service. Demonstrating a proven business case as to why the client should buy what you are selling. Testimonials or case studies from similar clients who have bought the product or service. Plus, and often overlooked, explaining that the product or service is something that you, as the salesperson, believe in and use yourself.
This last point is commonly referred to as “Eating your own Dog food” and it’s critical to providing credibility to a prospective client.
The phrase “Eating your own Dog food” refers to the idea that if a company or sales person expects its clients to buy its product or service, then they themselves (the company and sales person) should be willing to use those products or services themselves.
Why is “Eating your own Dog food” important to a client? Well, it clearly demonstrates that the company or salesman believe in the product or service enough to use for their own business, day-to-day, to enable them to succeed. Dogfooding, as it’s also known, can therefore be seen as a testimonial of sorts.
Dogfooding a product or service also means a company and its employees are continuously stress testing a product or service, making sure it is fit for purpose. In other words, if the product is good enough for us as an MSP, then it’s good enough for our clients!
But many MSP’s make the mistake of believing that clients should “Do as I say, not as I do” and buy products and solutions that they choose not to use.
Of course, it’s not always possible for an MSP to use every product and service they sell - industry specific Line of Business (LoB) applications, for instance, may be relevant to a client but not to the MSP - but when an MSP decides to sell a product, such as Office 365, but then uses Google Apps internally, then this can send a negative message to the client who may lose faith in the solution.
Consider for a moment the recent story that Microsoft’s Xbox team gets busted using Twitter for Android. On the surface this seems fairly laughable, but it does send a signal that some members of Microsoft Xbox team prefer to use Android devices over Windows Phones. Why? Well, that’s left to the prospective buyer of a Windows Phone to speculate.
For MSP’s, this means that if you sell Google Apps to a client - you should be using Google Apps internally. If you sell Remote Monitoring & Management, then you should demonstrate you use these tools to manage your own infrastructure. If you recommend a secure Comms Room for a client, with lockable cabinets and cable management, then you should demonstrate you have a similar setup in your own office.
Doing anything less than “Eating your own Dog food” can reduce your credibility in the eyes of the client, and potentially lose you the sale.
The phrase “Eating your own Dog food” may sound odd, but the rational behind it is strong.
If your company, and you as a salesperson, use the products and services that you’re selling to a client - then you’ve demonstrated a belief in the product or service and have credibility.
If you choose to use one product or service, but then sell another to your client, be aware that you’re not demonstrating credibility and may get called out on it.
Richard Tubb works with MSP's to help them focus on what is important, free up their time and make more money. You don't have to do it alone any more!