So today I had the enormous pleasure of presenting the SBS content to a bunch of SBSers at TechPartner / TechMentor conference. I have to say it was a lot of fun to see the little idea lights come on during the hour and a half I was given to show people how and why people become successful with SBS technologies. Thanks to Eric Ligman for hooking me up with the good ol’ Microsoft “opportunity” slides so I can oppen the presentation today the way I always dreamed I could if I worked for Microsoft:
Thank you for coming out here, thank you. Really, I appreciate you paying to come out, take the time from your busy day and the conference to see my presentation. Now that you’re here, give me 15 minutes to sell you on why you should be here. You see, there are 3.2 million businesses with a network and 5 or more PC’s. Can you smeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel the opportunity?
My god that felt great. In retrospect, I do owe Eric an apology. Maybe two years ago I complained about having me and my staff sit through these webcasts to endure the same crap every single time. Yes, partner program this, action pack has this, partner program that, blah, blah. But when I asked if anyone had used Microsoft Financing to close a deal the dead sea of business owners looked very calm. When I asked if they were aware that they could get the business financed for just $3,000 a few jaws dropped. When I asked if they knew that they could finance about $3,000 of software and services for just $102 a month, I could see the sea starting to part:
How many of you have eeeever had to take the walk of shame out of an SMB office after being shot down on a $5,000 deal?
Don’t lie to me, we’ve all been there.. (more heads start to nod)
Now as you were walking back to your car, did you not walk by at least two brand new Benz, BMW , Lexus or other $60,000 or more cars?
You mean to tell me they got $60,000 to spend on a car but not $5,000 on their business????
Did you really think those people owned them? Heck no, they were paying them off! You think they are going to sink $5,000 worth of the company’s cash flow into a bunch of software?
And as the sea parted I thought to myself… I wonder if I can get a cut out of the business I just sent to Microsoft?
I know I won’t, for they have not assassinated me (yet) for all the crap I always say about them. Which coincidentally was the remaining hour and a half of my presentation. I explained to the audience what Centro is, what Home server is, what SBS Cougar is and literally followed up with a truckload of info that just fell off the Microsoft NDA bus. I tried my hardest to give people the reality of whats going on, why its going on, who has the most interest in telling them what they need to think.
The Objection Land
At one point a gentleman (Certified Partner) asked, point blank – “Who cares? If they need a server today I can’t sell them Centro, I am selling them whatever is available. So why should I care?”
Eyes started to open up even further a few minutes later when I asked how many of them are out there fielding that ginormous demand for Microsoft Office 2007? “Wow, they changed eeeeeeeverything, thats awesome, Bob, I’ll take 30 copies! Forget about training, it’s so easy and intuitive I can do it today”
“Let’s talk about managed services… what does that mean to you? How many of you do it? <crickets> Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa? You haven’t dumped $50,000 of dollars into MSP software yet? Why not? Ok, well, lets go through the room and talk about what the managed services are, and what that ought to mean to you.”
That one was the most surprising one. I think everyone had a different take on it, most of them direct rewording of the parts of the MSP software makers marketing bs. Queue nail, hammer, coffin:
So whats with all then excitement then folks? Let me ask you this – how many of you know or have heard of a highly successful IT shop that only does the managed services?
The answer to that one, and what followed… well, thats why you pay to go to a conference. But I will share one with you for free:
Who cares about Office 2007, Cougar, WHS, etc? Not a single client. And perhaps they shouldn’t either, thats why I’m the geek and I play with it for years in advance. But you see… I make it a point for them to be aware that I’m playing with it! They talk to me because they want to see the technology, I talk to them because I want to show them whats possible. So a year or two down the road, when things come to the front, I want them to remember one name: Vlad.
I talk to people all the time. I don’t sit there and sell and push. I don’t need to, the solutions are solid enough. More importantly, I don’t need to BS people and pressure them at all, I’m just being me and thats very easy to do. But the candid talks pay off over time and I’m in this business for the long haul. I am selling solutions and services to the people that have talked to me in 1996. More than a decade later, I still do what I love without compromising my integrity or the respect that my business has built. I am not in this business to make it through this quarter and get promoted, I am in this business because I love what technology can do for people and I / we make those things possible. And when thats the philosophy you live by, the temporary blips, threats, opportunities and issues do not impact your ability to build a great company and be a good citizen to your community.
Thanks to the Redmond Magazine for inviting me to present this business content to my peers. It was a priviledge.