Considering the sheer number of VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems partners in existence, it's difficult at times to stand out from the crowd. Your MSP reputation obviously precedes you when potential clients have done their homework.
Yet sometimes reputation alone isn't enough to guarantee a sale --sometimes the best way to stand out is to really stand out.
Desktop virtualization is one of the most talked about technologies in IT today, and its hype cycle brings plenty of competition for landing a consulting agreement. If you're not meeting your quarterly numbers, these five thought leadership opportunities might be worth the extra effort and add a bit to your bottom line.
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Impress: Desktop virtualization certified experts. Sure, you've got a bench full of certified experts -- MCITPs, VCPs and maybe even a VCDX or CCEA that you bring in for the really complex projects. But so does your real competition.
So, consider investing in a Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, or Citrix CTP. These three award programs are recognized as the very best of the very best in each company’s technology. What you might not know is that the key to maintaining status in each program is as much about evangelism as it is about actual knowledge.
Awardees in any of these three programs are good, and they’re also very active in their respective communities and in social media. They’ll cost a bit more, and you’ll see them spending more time than your usual consultant keeping their public persona active. But these people are thought leadership producing machines, and their public recognition delivers an advantage to your sales strategy.
Engage: Desktop virtualization blogs and forums. The heyday of blogging might be behind us, but the need for quality bloggers and good answers in community forums will never die. When you’re known as a thought leader, your blog will be the go-to place for companies and people with problems. Blogging can be one way to accomplish that, although the time and effort required to get people reading a blog can take months, if not years.
Forum participation can deliver a faster payoff, if you’re careful about how your thought leaders post answers.
All of the major software vendors have forums for discussing problems and solutions, which makes creating your own forum redundant. Furthermore, they’re no place for even a hint of sales pressure. Merely posting answers along with a well-designed signature is usually enough to be seen as a community thought leader.
Blogging or posting to forums takes time. And even more important, they require motivation. Flogging your consultants to keep their billable time at high percentages while simultaneously flogging them to stay active online can burn out a bench remarkably fast. Foment their motivation; don’t require it.
Write: Desktop virtualization tips and commentary. The editors who keep IT’s trade magazines going every day are constantly on the search for new content. These days, they’ve got a monthly print magazine to keep populated, as well as daily updates to websites. Without a constant stream of fresh ideas, this group of people can’t keep their readers informed.
You can take advantage of their need and get some thought leadership points out of the trade. Get in touch with your favorite IT magazine or website editors, and pitch them a few ideas. The more, the better.
If your consultants are technologically savvy and can string together 800 words into a meaningful story, IT trade media offers a welcoming outlet to get your consultants quickly on the pages of publications your clients read.
Speak: Desktop virtualization conferences. Why pay to send your consultants to IT conferences such as VMworld, Citrix Synergy or Microsoft TechEd when there are opportunities for them to attend for free? Most IT conferences these days offer numerous opportunities that trade out a full conference pass (and sometimes travel costs as well) in exchange for presenting a session or assisting with an expo booth. These activities put you in front of potential new customers, while saving your travel budget at the same time.
Standing out from that crowd of MSPs requires thinking outside the box. One way to accomplish that is through this industry’s thought leadership opportunities. They’re just asking for your assistance. You might be surprised at how interested these outlets are in your participation.
About the author
Greg Shields, MVP, vExpert, is a partner with Concentrated Technology. Get more of Greg's tips and tricks at www.concentratedtech.com