According to ITSMA’s research, while there are professional services and solution providers with unaided awareness in the market (IBM – 52% of respondents, Accenture – 25%, HP – 22%) there were literally scores of other vendors mentioned when 466 business and IT executives were interviewed about services providers in September – November, 2013. A key takeaway from this report is that there is a lot of room for services and solution providers to gain share in this highly fragmented market.
The key to success is, in Julie Schwartz’s words “not to boil the ocean.” You have to pick your targets, know them and get them to know you. When I interviewed Julie about the ITSMA report I told her about a PointClear client (a professional services and solution provider) that increased pipeline from close to zero to $220,000,000 by focusing on 1,100 prospects. Oh, they have also sold $75,000,000 in new logo services in just the past year by focusing on a limited number of just right prospects.
Another key takeaway was that there was remarkably little difference in how buyers weighted key attributes of doing business with services and solution providers. On a scale of 1 – 7 with 7 being the most important the following attributes were weighted from 6.1 to 5.4 (the following is a list of six out of the twelve attributes weighted in the report):
- Understands your unique business needs
- Is able to save you money while also adding value
- Leverages technology to achieve your business goals, not just your IT objectives
- Has a proven track record backed by customer references from similar companies
- Regularly brings to market innovative solutions that drive better business results
- Uses data and analytics to optimize business processes
The learning from this is buyers have high expectations across a wide variety of desired attributes they consider important when selecting a technology provider.
Having said that, while companies are looking for quality and value, they will pay a premium to companies that have done their research, understand each prospect’s unique needs and have a proven track record backed by customer references in similar companies. This is another strong reason to focus efforts on fewer prospects.
As Julie reflected on the data, she said it was apparent that companies “can’t just work on brand awareness, they have to work on brand knowledge.” What this means to Julie, and it makes a lot of sense, is that in many cases even the biggest companies service silos in big accounts without those accounts having brand knowledge — i.e., where and how their provider could help them in other areas of their businesses. So, the providers sell service “A” to one client who does not even know the same provider sells service “B” and service “C” to other clients. When your clients are aware of you, but don’t know all of your capabilities, that leaves the door open to other providers looking to take share.
This 13th annual edition of the ITSMA Professional Services and Solutions Brand Tracking Study is a must read if you sell professional services and solutions. The 134-page plus report provides a deep understanding of buyer attitudes and beliefs — and if you want to gain share, you won’t want to miss it.