Howard M. Cohen, writing for the Xerox blog, discusses the importance of innovating to stay ahead of the competition.
The key to success in the IT partner channel has always been the same: keep coming up with something new to expand what your customer can achieve and bringing new value to their bottom line. ‘Always’ requires constant new innovation. You must always stay ahead or you will fall behind. Innovate, innovate, innovate.
‘But what have you done for me lately?’ is a question we’ve all heard asked in one way or another at many times in our careers. It’s a question we’ll hear again and again. We need a good answer.
Staying out front
The Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s ‘Through the Looking Glass’ advises, ‘Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.’ We know that to be true simply by experience. One can never slow down or lay back in the information technologies industry, or it will fly past us. But Carroll follows in the next sentence saying, ‘If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.’ This is where our ‘survive and thrive’ strategy begins. It simply isn’t enough to just work hard and keep working hard.
Why channel partners need to always be innovating, and how Xerox can help
When you see the world as consisting of those who are already your customers and those who are not yet your customers, the only two ways to make more money become obvious:
• Create more customers by moving members of the second group to the first; or
• Sell more to your existing customers.
We’ve all heard the axiom that it’s ‘Five times easier to sell more to an existing customer than to create a new one.’ Whether or not you believe that’s true, there is one pre-requisite before you can do this.
Your vendor partners work tirelessly to provide you with new features, new functions, new capabilities, new capacities, and new products to fulfill this requirement. Real growth, however, requires that you continue to develop new ways to help your customers achieve greater success. In other words, you must constantly be innovating, creating new solutions, new ways to use the technologies your vendors provide to enable your customers to do more, better, newer things. It does take all the running you can do to stay in the same place, and all the innovating you can do to move forward and up.
How do I know what to innovate?
Ask your customers. That may sound simplistic, but the one person who knows what your customers most need and wish for, is your customer. To find out what is on their wish list, you simply need to ask them. Those conversations are often the catalyst that moves you in the direction of your next great innovation.
Xerox equips its channel partners to innovate and resolve customers’ pain points in order to grow their own businesses. Leadership MPS, apps, and production technology are powerful ways for partners to differentiate themselves in the market and achieve sustained, long-term, profitable growth.
Often, your customers won’t wait for you to ask. They frequently reach out to ask if you are able to provide specific functionality, capability or capacity. You go straight to the whiteboard with your team and innovate an excellent solution for them. You propose it and they accept. You perform the deployment and enjoy some nice revenue from it. What do you do next?
How channel partners can answer the question, ‘But what have you done for me lately?’
Find other customers to sell it to. Once you’ve successfully completed a new project you must immediately consult your customer list and your prospecting lists to identify other customers that are similar to the one you performed the project for. It stands to reason that if they are similar to your customer, their needs will be similar. You have a new innovation to offer. You just need well-qualified prospects to offer it to.
You don’t have to do it to sell it
As a member of the Xerox Global Partner Programme (GPP) you are part of a community of great innovators. Many GPP members develop new offerings regularly. By partnering proactively with them, you’ll find yourself armed with a wonderful armoury of great new innovations to offer to your customers.
Do yourself the favour of printing a large sign that asks this question. Keep that sign in plain view so you always see it, because it is a question you will never stop answering.