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Field Notes: Lean Times for IT Services

I know it’s lean times in IT, and product / services vendors are all beating the bushes. Some interesting patterns have emerged over the last few months …

My Boss Is In Town: This is far and away the #1 meme / structure of incoming cold calls; I get a (very) brief synopsis of services/value add, the caller and pushes for some face time with “their manager”. Did some newsletter or web site suggest this novel approach last summer? I pinged a consultant friend for an opinion, and they said it might have to do with my title, but I don’t think so – this seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon.

LinkedIn Surfers: Using the Who’s Viewed My Profile feature, I typically only see names of companies. For the unfamiliar names, one or two clicks will tell me if they are software or services firms; at this point, I’ll lay 1:2 odds that they will be calling or eMailing within a week. Not that this is bad – just predictable.

Never be Rude: In all of these conversations, I do try to be polite and listen to the conversation / “pitch” for just a few minutes. I think it’s all about karma – the folks on the phone are just doing their job, and I’ll give them as polite a response as I can muster, in complete sentences, etc. I’m not turning down face-time requests because I don’t like these folks; the reality for most buy-side firms (I would think) is that [we] have limited time and attention span for new professional relationships, and limited resources for additional projects. If the product or service you are pitching is not on my close-in radar screen, I probably won’t be interested – so let’s just jump to the end game …

Never say Never: However, I do like to exchange contact information, and I’ll always ask for a short electronic synopsis of a firm and their skills / product offerings. Electronic – because I hate moving paper. Plus, I keep my conversations in a contact database, and index my hard drive for stuff like text-searchable PDFs, office documents, etc. When I do have a need, I will typically search my electronic resources to find out who (among those I have connected with) might have a certain set of competencies.

A Perfect World: Here’s a thought: some really innovative firm could publish contact information and competencies in some structured text, or maybe make it electronically discoverable on their corporate web site – can you say semantic web?. Then I search & find by competencies when I have a true need. Of course, guys like me would love a spec and a how-to document to do the same for our departmental IT profile (key technologies, typical use of third party firms, IT procurement processes for Preferred / Approved Vendors, etc.). You know, if some firm out there defined, implemented, and popularized such a spec / standard, they’d really be showing me that they knew what they were talking about …

Real World Chicago: Of course, my professional career has been centered in Chicago, and have built excellent networks and rapport with the folks I know, have spent face time with – so I do appreciate the value of that whole relationship thing. Still, please don’t be offended when I keep the conversation terse.

Of course, all the best sales people get two orders every day, right? Get out and stay out!

(apologies to TQ, he always hated that joke)

This Post Has One Comment

  1. James,
    Being an ex-CEO, you’re dead on acurate regarding the “my boss is in town” paragraph. It seemed that I would recieve these calls daily, sometimes multiple times per day, and would wonder why so many bosses would be visiting my area. Did Roseville, CA all of a sudden become a tourist destination spot?
    I too would try and play nice, as we are all just trying to make a living. Again, like you, I’d prefer to have a quick blurb on what they offer and how their offerings would fit into my business.
    I’ve been in the network hardware resale business since 1998 and have seen & tried just about every angle possible to create new opportunities. Oh and by the way, my boss will be in Chicago next week and would love to meet with you for 5 minutes to present our offerings…:)

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