As kids, we were all taught to play fairly and most of us learned that lesson (sometimes the hard way). However, does playing fairly apply to the real world? I’ve heard many a self-defense instructor tell students, “If you’re playing fair when you’re fighting for your life – you’re doing it wrong!” I think the same thing applies to us in the world of professional services and software.
I know what you’re thinking – this isn’t a fight for your life. Are you sure? I know that the success (survival) of our company depends on us performing to a level above that of the competition. I also recognize that my family’s survival depends on me to serve partners and clients to a level they expect. Performing our jobs every day IS a fight for our collective lives, and we should recognize that more often.
I pose this prose as I listen to a salesperson lament the loss of a sale to a vertically focused product when he was selling “base offerings” with lots of customizations and enhancements. The customer chose the vertical and explained why that was the better choice for them. Their reasoning makes perfect sense to them and us and it is why we positioned Progressus PSA as a vertical solution for the Professional Services customer.
Sammy the Sales Guy: “These verticals don’t play fair, they know all the customers’ language and acronyms, and already speak the lingo.”
Of course they do! A huge advantage of a vertical solution is the prior knowledge of the customer’s base of operations, a more than basic understanding of the customer’s business model, understanding what their terms mean (without asking what the acronym represents), and finally, not doing a demo to “build a bicycle” with a professional services firm! The Professional Services vertical demo uses real-world terms, real WBS’s with appropriate resources and such for the WBS, invoice and billing options that a Professional Services firm would already use, and reports that they would find useful.
With Progressus PSA, we ARE the vertical solution for Microsoft customers on Dynamics 365 Business Central. A product built BY professional services people, FOR professional services firms. We speak the lingo, and we walk the walk with our customers.
Sammy the Sales Guy: “These verticals don’t play fair, they already know the best practices for the customers’ business, and in sometimes even teach the customers better ways to do things. How am I supposed to do that?”
Of course, the vertical professionals know how the professional services customer operates! They aren’t out trying to learn distribution for one prospect, then warehousing for another, and maybe retail space management for yet another – diluting their focus and reducing their efficiency and effectiveness. The vertical partners have made it their BUSINESS to know the ins and outs of the professional services industry at a very deep level. These partners know their customers’ businesses, their processes, their irritations, and how to alleviate them. It would be irresponsible of a prospective customer to ignore that level of experience and understanding in favor of “basic offerings” that they will have to work with and pay for someone to architect and customize after they teach them the basics of their operations. Now throw in the upgrade hassles and costs of customized software, and it really drives the point home. Vertical offerings are a better choice!
With Progressus PSA, we are BUILT for professional services firms. One product, one platform, and one goal in mind: The efficient professional services implementation and operation.
Sammy the Sales Guy: “These verticals don’t play fair, they have such a large base of implementations in this industry, they can install faster and more efficiently than we can. They under-quote our estimates, and their timelines are faster. How can that be – it isn’t fair!”
Finally – Sammy is starting to get it! No – it ISN’T FAIR that these partners with a vertical specialty can come in and prove more knowledgeable, more efficient and more helpful than a “basic partner”. The vertical pro’s have gone out and done the work, put in the hours, the sweat, and the effort to make themselves that much more valuable. Is that fair? I guess it depends on your definition of fair. Germany Kent, a popular journalist, said, “There is no shortcut for hard work that leads to effectiveness. You must stay disciplined because most of the work is behind the scenes.” Thomas Jefferson was a bit more down to earth: “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have.”
As I tune out Sammy and his whining, I am reminded that there are more than 4X the number of “basic partners” in the channel than there are true professional services vertical experts. This is an overdue “thank you” to those pro’s, and a question to the rest of the channel: Are you ready to put in the work to be that expert in whichever vertical inspires your passion?
If so, congratulations, and we’ll be rooting for you. If that passion is professional services, we’ll do more than cheer you on – we’ll help you with training, product knowledge, and targeted marketing to get those ProServ firms in front of you so you can show them why Sammy and a “basic offering” isn’t their best choice. But if Sammy is your guy, and you are happy being “basic” – then good luck to you. Just don’t be surprised when a vertical pro gets your “unfair share”.