In 2015, most IT services firms got away by hawking Cloud, Digital Transformation, Customer Experience, and a handful of other key phrases. As we wind down the year, we spoke with senior CIOs, CMOs, and CSOs across multiple verticals to understand how they see their businesses evolve, and where they see vendors fit into the game. Here are some insights, and these redefine the 3Ps of Services Marketing in the IT Services space.
- People: Hotels showcase physical properties, airlines showcase food and in-flight experiences. In IT, it is all about people. Yes, unlike other services businesses that sell visions of luxury, comfort, and other assurances, in the IT world, CIOs want to see your people. They want to see your stars and leaders who have solved similar problems at other firms, before they even want to talk to you. The CIO of a leading insurance firm disclosed that she had to walk out a large consulting firm and replace that team from a much smaller firm because the team dynamics with the larger consulting firm did not work. For small and high-growth IT consulting firms, showcasing your people plays to your advantage. Of course, how you retain talent depends on how you market to them as well.
- Projects: Unlike product companies, services firms will have to rely heavily on projects and past experiences. IT Buyers are not interested in “methodologies, processes, and metrics-driven approach models.” They want to see your past projects and the results from those engagements. One of our clients presents only 3 slides for any pitch: Customer challenges, his firm’s engagement process, and the final outcomes. He carefully chooses the right logos, right projects, and the right outcomes depending on the prospect call. I have seen his firm grow from 20 people to over 500 people in the last 6 years. And his projects are enviably sizeable. He used to throw the kitchen sink at his prospects, but we worked long and hard to curtail that frenzy. If a client evinces interest in any of those 3 slides (trust me, the average interest level is above 80%) he pulls up his corporate deck (and this is just 10 slides) to dive deeper.
- Pay off: The biggest challenge in IT services is always about IT Buyers justifying return on investments (ROI) from their vendors. Most CIOs want to achieve outcomes, while most IT CEOs want to achieve revenue numbers.Where is the disconnect? The looking glass.The CIO sees a problem and wants to solve it, or the CIO has a vision and wants to achieve it.The CEO from the vendor partner sees an opportunity from the CIO’s predicament and wants to leverage it. How can an IT firm offer a pricing or a project engagement that is based on outcomes or pay-off? As one of our CIOs said, “If they don’t have the appetite for it, let them not waste my time.” Outcomes is the new black.
What are your outcomes-based approach to IT Services Marketing? Please add your comments and I would be delighted to review them here.