It’s not about the technology, dummy

Let’s face it, every MSP likes to talk about "their" technology, but the truth is that for the most part we all offer the same solutions. We all deliver network administration, help desk, hosted services, virtualization, consulting, projects, blah blah blah, with some minor variations.

We are all trying to differentiate, display our value add for all to see, proclaim our USP (unique selling proposition) from the mountaintops and declare ourselves the best of the best. But at the end of the day it is our relationship with our key client contact, the person I like to call the "ONE", that allows us to truly deliver our service experience to the company. It may be the CEO, CTO, CIO, CFO, VP of IT, Director of IT with whom you, or your account manager, has created a strong relationship. You talk tech, sports, family, people you know, the handbag you just bought, and how the septic tank backed up into your house. Your interaction goes far beyond the technology and your success with your client is tied to the ONE. It is our willingness to protect the ONE, cover their back when major issues arise and quickly put out the fires so no one ever questions their abilities that delivers the client experience that keeps you the preferred vendor for years. It is our job to make them look like superstars. We can't afford for them to look bad or incompetent.

As my good friend Ed Eskew always says, "don't forget who brought you to the dance". If you make them look good, they will stand by you and your services through the good times and the bad.

The reality is that at each client there is a ONE.
That is why we sweat bullets when the ONE is fired or leaves, because you now have to prove your worth to the new guy who, by the way, has his own favorite IT guru. Of course, on the flip side, wherever the ONE goes there is a good chance she/he will bring you in. That is primarily the way I grew my first IT consulting business, and I can tell you that is the slow train to growing a company.

Back to the ONE. If you don't care about the ONE, it makes servicing a client difficult and it is just a matter of time before the client throws you out or you fire them (it does happen on occasion). In the Godfather, Michael Corleone says to his brother (before he goes off to kill his father's assailants) that "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business.”. But I disagree. To me it is always personal. I have to like the person I am working with and for. I have to like the person I am trying to make look good. I have to like the person I am trying to educate and protect. If I am going to invest my time and expertise at a client, not to mention share embarrassing stories, I have to like them...a lot. Yeah I know, there are people that say if you have to like everyone you work with you will not be very successful. But my goal is to build a business that delivers the Kobargo experience, not just the Kobargo technology, which is just a part of our USP. Delivering that experience is hard to do if you do not enjoy interacting with your main point of contact. It's just like dating. You have to have the qualities they are looking for, the right technology, deliverables, talent and experience. But you know the relationship is really going to take off and last once you start spending time together and you get to know each other's personalities.

Unless you are creating technology, you are delivering someone else's solution, but how you deliver it and the service experience you create is what is important. If you don't like your client and they don't like you someone else will be delivering the technology real soon.

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