The art of selling services in an IT industry

In any industry, the most important asset of a business is the list of satisfied customers, from a business perspective. Sometimes customers ask for solutions that they want and not what they actually need. Not taking away any credit from them as they are not experts, and hence the need for a service provider.

What to look for in an IT (information technology) service provider:

The first must is to have experts on the job, not part-timers. In the IT industry, what is more important than the product is the professional who is implementing it. As it has been observed over the years, the right product still doesn't work for the requirement if it is not implemented correctly. It is the skilled expert who turns products into solutions and projects into success. The most important quality of an IT service provider is to deliver the right people for the job. This is the most important factor as the experienced and seasoned professionals will know all the angles, pros and cons of possible technologies or approaches.

It is like when we visit a doctor. It is rare that we tell the doctor to give us medicine of our choice for a disease about which we know very little. Normally, the doctor will analyse our state, look at our history as most of us go to a family doctor. Given the history and past allergies (if any) the doctor will prescribe appropriate medication/treatment. He/she may also consider one's medical aid benefits and/or financial positions while writing the prescription.

Some of the businesses that supply products packaged in a box matching standard requirements end up leaving unsatisfied customers, because the product in a box did not fulfil all the requirements. Sometimes the product might have some hidden limitations, or the consultant who selected/implemented the product for the client could not read between the lines. The customer will end up with the item he purchased, because he wanted it. He is stuck with it even if it doesn't provide the solution he needed. Not to mention solution providers may have brought resources from outside the country to do the implementation and cannot afford them afterwards for support and maintenance. In such an event, the client has to bare these costs if they want any changes to the solution.

This brings us to the next two important factors know your customer and exercise local presence. This includes knowing the IT procurement and implementation history of the customer, his current environment, financial strength and most important of all the IT strategy and vision. The service provider that knows its customers and cares about their vision serves them better. After all it is not the number of customers that should count, but the number of happy customers. Therefore, a personalised and more attentive service always adds extra value and support, thus avoiding extra costs and disappointments.

Local presence means the service provider will be able to respond to the client's needs on lower costs, and hence increasing the service levels.

Last but not least is to maintain a clientele of satisfied customers, meaning the service provider should not only have big names on the client's list they should also be satisfied with the service(s) provided to them, so it will be a good idea to make a few calls and perhaps also do site visits.

These are the same guiding principles we follow at Green.

Green Enterprise Solutions (Green) is a Namibian provider of information technology (IT) management solutions for large, mid-sized and small enterprises and public sector organisations. The company provides its customers with maintenance and support services for Microsoft and IBM products. It also assists customers with software implementation, integration, IT process and organisational transformation, and education services.

Our core is the people, we believe in experts working for customers, not students learning on projects. Our consultants are well-trained and experienced professionals. Green utilises Microsoft and IBM Technologies to enable organisations to quickly respond to changing business needs. This allows companies to collaborate, share ideas and expertise, create custom solutions for specific needs, and find the right business information to make better decisions. Collaborative solutions help IT teams cut training and maintenance costs, save time and effort, and focus on higher business priorities.

We believe that the ICT sector in Namibia can become a strong pillar of economy if nurtured and allowed to expand resulting in Namibia to become a bigger regional player in the sector. We are a diverse nation with people well capable of competing at any level if given due exposure. This vision guides us to follow through with the strategy to empower local resources and focus on exporting ICT services to Africa and beyond.

* Syed Muhammad Asad Abbas is the Head of Software Services at Green Enterprise Solutions

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia