Start With Baby Steps

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It is tempting in sales to think that we can come in and immediately sell a completely new infrastructure all at once to our customer that will instantly improve their lives and business. The problem with this thinking is that it treats the customer’s IT infrastructure like an asset that can simply be dumped and replaced with a more lucrative offering. Some customers also believe in this myth of “If I just had a completely new <insert whatever topology you like here> all of my problems would go away!”

This is not the approach that IT professionals should have whether they be customers or sales people. From the sales side it not only is condescending of a customer’s circumstances, but it also gives the impression of the sales person being greedy. From the customer side it is horrible planning that does not take into account the long term needs of your organization.

If you want to improve your infrastructure find a partner who is willing to take a phased approach with you. Someone who is going to address one immediate need, but at the same time points out potential new bottlenecks that these changes might inflict upon your infrastructure. In other words look for a partner who is going to help you plan for the future.

Why is it better to take a phased approach?

  • Those big “refresh everything” projects are usually signs that an organization has starved the IT department of cash, and now they are panicking in a rush to fix problems that could have been avoided. Such organizations are not actually going to put in the best new solutions, but will instead be rushing to put in the cheapest new solution. If your organization was cheap before the refresh chances are it will be cheap during the refresh. You have to address how IT’s value is perceived by the organization first before you go and rip everything out and replace it with new cheap equipment.
  • Your big all-at-once approach will get it wrong. There is no way that you are going to accurately diagnose and resolve all of the problems in your infrastructure with a simple drop-and-swap purchase. What you will end up doing is putting in equipment that is faster than your old gear, and then you will be running under the delusion that things are better. Things are not better though, they are just faster which means it is only a matter of time before you have a serious outage of some sort. Guess who is going to have to explain why that outage occurred after paying for that big all-at-once refresh of equipment? Hint – it will not be the person who asks the question, because that person will be the boss.
  • It costs less to identify and upgrade a single component of the infrastructure which will bring the most benefit to the organization if it were updated. You will more likely be able to spend more on that single component by itself than if you were to replace it and several other components in unison. Then after you have shown immediate and reliable improvements to the organization you can make the case for your next focused approach to improving the IT infrastructure. It is hard to argue with success, and phased approaches to improvement are more successful.

From the sales side this phased approach results in happier customers and long term partnerships which should be the real goal of every sales person. I will gladly sell you a smaller and more focused solution for less money today if it means that you will be calling me with confidence that I will deliver successful results for your next project tomorrow. I do not need that big one time sale, because together you and I will do more business over time than any single sale would ever generate. Even when I am selling a single stack solution that addresses multiple technologies I am doing it with a phased approach to improving my customer’s infrastructure steadily over time. I do this because I want my customers to be successful, and they in turn will make me successful as a pre-sales solutions architect.

You have to walk before you can run, and we learn to walk by taking baby steps. Find a partner who is willing to help you during that baby steps phase, and you will be up and running with a solid infrastructure in no time!

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