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Compressor Aftermath

January 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

Two posts ago I was writing about some customer service issues I had with Sears.  This topic deserves one more post to bring to it to closure!  While out on my planning trip this past week, my son brought this compressor to a friend’s house.  It turns out that a capacitor used to start the motor had a cracked housing.  My friend was able to repair the housing without purchasing any additional parts, and I am back in business for 0$.  That’s right, my 230 something dollar quote from sears was fixed by a friend without replacing to motor, and without replacing the capacitor (if you read the post, you recall that Sears simply left me a message saying “My motor had to be replaced for $235).

The problem here is simple; the technician is programmed to replace parts regardless of whether they actually need replacing, and when a part is no longer made with their brand on it, they are not programmed to advise…We are all in business to make money, but when a fix can be made with a $2 part from Radio Shak (or simply repaired with glue, etc.) the value the consultant brings is in their advice not to spend more money.  Customer loyalty depends on the customer feeling like they can really trust the person advising, and when the advice is easily challenged and the fee reduced by orders of magnitude, somehow the customer is left feeling less than confident in the service they are receiving.

Whatever position you are in, study and equip yourself to give the best answers, even if it reduces the size of your initial sale.  In the long run, it will pay off.  What are the chances of me recommending you head to the Sears Services Center (as the customer sat. form reads 0 – 10…hmmm).

© 2012, David Stelzl

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Vendor to Adviser

December 20, 2010 — 2 Comments

If you missed my teleseminar last week on moving from Vendor to Adviser…Here are some examples of how I’ve turned mundane deals into profit-rich, consultative relationships:

  • A firewall upgrade opportunity referred by a vendor/partner turned in large profit and product.  Rather than going in with quotes and features, I presented cybercrime trends to an executive VP, identified their mission critical applications, data, and some process, and showed them how current trends are attacking companies similar to theirs.  The meeting ended with an agreement to perform a simple assessment, which was then expanded to a $65,000 contract.  From there we spent over a year implementing security controls, locking down operating systems, and eventually signed a three year security management agreement.
  • A firewall replacement opportunity from a non-active client turned into a larger assessment and perimeter security initiative with dual-authentication and application security consulting.  In this case, the client wanted to review competitive quotes.  Rather than responding with numbers, we called a meeting with the VP of operations, reviewed mission critical applications, and discovered a need for stronger application security and authentication for users who are members but not employees of the organization.  We proposed a simple assessment which closed for $35,000, and demonstrated the need for two-factor authentication, intrusion detection with event correlation, and upgraded various components of the perimeter as well as website security for the application in question.
  • An intrusion detection opportunity with a newspaper company turned into a larger policy consulting project putting us in front of all major company stake holders.  Rather than responding with numbers we were able to show the need to identify company policy in order to properly place and managed intrusion technology.  This effort led to a portal based policy server, intrusion prevention technology along with managed event correlation.  Future projects were easier to win with our new executive level sponsorship.
  • A large network project was put on hold at a major southeast university.  Instead of giving up, I was able to convince them to conduct an operational efficiency and risk study on the need for new network equipment.  This allowed us to gain entrance to all major stake holders positioning us for future project business.
  • At an educators symposium I was offered a breakout session to speak for free.  I used that platform to present trends on cybercrime, approached being taken by large organizations, specifically in the education/university space, and was able to follow up with one of the attendees with economic buyer status.  Our team conducted an assessment for $125,000, and then leveraged that relationship for introductions throughout the southeast.  Similar projects followed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, many of which required remediation efforts.
  • A similar speaking opportunity was given to me at a CLEC symposium for NC, SC, and VA.  Similar results followed the educator symposium.
  • A small staffing role was awarded to us to install some server technology in a large multimillion-dollar financial application project.  By researching their proposed plan we were able to show how their approach was not going to produce the results they were looking for.  At the risk of losing our position on the project, we proceeded with recommendation on how to change the program, putting us at the helm of a 3 million dollar initiative to role out a lending application nationwide.

You get the idea.  Taking existing product opportunities, free speeches, and by proposing contrarian approaches, a savvy sales person can move up.  One who has taken the time to stay on top of trends and developed consulting skills, can move to a consultative, and highly profitable position within the organizations they are already calling on.

© 2010, David Stelzl