Joke animation image of consultants

In the first part of this blog, I discussed our pledge of how we set out to conduct ourselves in your dealings with us, in this blog I’m going to talk about this in a big more depth about how we’re trying make a cultural change to make this behaviour stick.

Prior to me becoming involved in having a technology business, I was a consultant. I spent a lot of time, effort and money pushing myself through business school and getting an MBA. The good old, Master of Bugger All! Whilst you sit through your MBA at any good business school starting to believe you’ll change the world, almost like you did when you were at school as a teenager, the reality eventually sets in…

The definition of a consultant was explained to me once as someone who will borrow your watch to tell you the time. This in most industries is the generally considered view of them. How could an external third party have knowledge of your business like those who work in it? Well, I used to think like this too.

You can sit in a company and work with the ideals, but unfortunately even if you’re working like a dog, it doesn’t mean that those around you aren’t clock watchers who may do their job well, but just won’t go that extra mile. A consultant adds extra resource at times, gives those who lack confidence an extra boost and sometimes is simply there to reaffirm what the company doesn’t really want to admit to itself. However the main use for consultants in the technology industry is simply to add skills and solve problems that couldn’t otherwise be done without external help. There is no doubt, that for the most part, this works.

A long time ago I decided it was more appropriate to call our sales people Technology Consultants, this in itself has caused problems.  First of all, consultant isn’t a term that most people warm to either, the irony isn’t lost on me that it’s almost as bad as being called a salesman in some circles! However I needed to force a culture change, we need to start thinking less of being some sort of ‘house.’ Even our suppliers refer to us as a Cisco house, a Dell house, a Microsoft house – this is actually a business! For some reason IT channel people talk about houses, well we don’t think that way – we’re not going to sell Cisco because we’re aligned to them, we’re going to sell it because it solves a specific customer problem. This is difficult for our suppliers to understand, us being ‘vendor agnostic,’ however our customers need to understand that because of this we’re solely focussed upon their problems and how to solve them.

We have found having Technology Consultants problematic because it means putting your best people forward and not employing the traditional car salesmen-types of the IT industry.

  • First of all, you need to find a salesperson who is good enough to be a consultant who is a problem solver.   Not focus on one technology that makes them the most commission.   They need to have a brain, be in a relationship for the long term, accepting that not every proposal will work out for us and most importantly be passionate about technology and problem solving.
  • Secondly, they need to be a people person, they need just to like chatting, not clock watching and ultimately aiming to build relationships where our customers may make us the tea, but we bring the biscuits.

When I was an IT Manager and vehemently opposed to sales, I used to toy with salespeople who didn’t have enough technical knowledge to impress me.  I used to avoid salespeople who only talked about waffle.  I ultimately started looking beyond those people and looking at the people actually doing the work to see if they were good.  It has been a buying strategy that I still can’t get out of the habit of, even as a reseller now.  We even as a small company are hard on multinationals regardless of size and fortune, some respond to it very positively and see us as straight talking and easy to deal with, others I dare say see us as a pain in the backside and to be fair we treat them in a similar manner.

Our suppliers, regardless of whether they are easy to deal with (for us anyway), big or small, national or international all have one thing in common.  They have a unique technology that we need and have a genuine belief that it solves a problem that couldn’t be solved before, or solves a problem in a better or more cost effective way.

Unleashed use technology to solve business problems.  We want to be the IT company of choice for IT Managers to deal with, given what I’ve learned as an IT Manager over the years, if we can’t do that then we can’t do much.  We also equally want to be easy to deal with by non-technical board members in explaining exactly what business benefits and cost savings will be achieved with one of our solutions – giving the IT manager extra ammo to get a project off the ground.

I know I can’t make potential clients believe what I’ve written here, the price I dare say is your own time and a cup of tea to find out for yourselves.  At the risk of ending this blog too much like the end of an episode of the A-Team, if you have a business problem and you think technology can solve it, but don’t know where to find it, then maybe you should call the Unleashed team. We may even bring the biscuits.