There are so many vendors selling services to IT organizations out there, all competing for the same share of the pie
Prices – are usually similar.
Quality – there are some differences but put aside boutique shops, for most vendors, average quality is similar
Offering – in many cases can be “copy-pasted” with slight differences between one another.
So how do you stand out? How do you succeed more than others?
Well, from my experience in being on the other side (i.e. an IT leader who received services). There are a few tips that really make the difference. While they sometimes seem simple, I can testify that these are the things that make the difference.
Let me share them:
1) Fast response
This is really the most important tip. Most companies today don’t work according to a long-term plan and have visibility for needs 5 months ahead. Usually, either a business need is identified at the last minute and it is needed ASAP, or projects are approved with harsh timelines which make the project “in delay” from the first day.
What will happen usually in such a case is that an immediate need rises for developers/ project leaders/business analysts, DBAs etc, Pressure rises quickly and the main criteria becomes how fast services can be provided. It will not often come with a long-term commitment and in many times, at this stage services will be required for 1-2 months. Experience shows that if services are good, such assignments will linger for years.
So – be ready to respond fast, build your methods in order to get relevant candidates within hours and even minutes. By the end of the day, every minute counts and the one who is able to come up with a solution faster will most likely succeed.
You have no idea how many constraints are there, especially in large organizations, that force good managers to look for creative solutions to getting the work done. Your chances of success will increase if you apply more flexibility and creativeness. To give some examples: commercial flexibility (rate cards, dynamic rate cards, fixed price offering, hybrid models), timelines and duration (starting the work before an official agreement is signed based on unofficial commitments), adhering to special training needs and many odder requests that may come your way. Take the chance and be flexible, in most cases, it will work out for the best.
3) Sort out company procedures in advance
Working with big companies usually requires a process that may take a while. Make sure you’re on the list of approved vendors, that you have an overarching agreement in place and that you have done all that is necessary to actually provide services instantly. Referring to my previous point about fast response, when the time comes, the last thing you want is to miss your opportunity since you are not listed and ready. My advice: don’t wait for the first opportunity, and work out procedures in advance with procurement and with the business.
4) Be in the game at all times
As an IT leader, I’m getting dozens of business cards and meetings with IT service providers. Unfortunately, when the time comes, I can’t remember most of them, I don’t have a lot of time and I usually start with calling the 2-3 I have in my head. Same with my peers and my department managers. Your goal is to be in the “list of 3” in our head at all times. Don’t be shy and make sure you’re there at all times. Periodical checkups, follow-ups, visits, do whatever it takes (but do it gracefully ?)
5) One connection in an organization is not enough
Decisions are not taken by one person, even if he is the manager, one person can’t be exposed to all the needs. Try to create an extensive network within a company and even within each department.
6) Can you deliver more?
Reality shows that in many cases, it’s convenient for managers to go to one place for most services. If you’re into development services, can you also bring UI/UX services? Can you bring business analysis services? Even if you don’t have it in-house, try to partner or build a network that can deliver more and help the respective manager worry about fewer details.
7) Set up feedback meetings
Most managers will be happy to discuss all these points and their importance if you will simply ask for feedback. Don’t hesitate to set up and ask.