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One of the hardest things for a solution provider to do is grow his business past the 100- or 125-employee mark. At that point, said Larry Kesslin, president of 4-Profit, during a breakout session at XChange Solution Provider in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the company requires some major changes, including additional management and letting other people do work that the principles used to do. And that's where many solution providers struggle.
Kesslin laid out seven "breaking points" that VARs need to manage in order to successfully grow the business:
1. Charting The Course
Too many solution providers don't know what their end game is, Kesslin said. "How can you have a business where you don't know where you're going?" he asked. "Understand where you're going and where you want to get to. Help your people understand why you make the decisions you do."
Kesslin illustrated the point by telling a tale of a boy that ran away from home. Five years later he winds up in Montreal where he's cold and miserable, when he could have taken a flight to San Diego and been there in five hours. "He started walking for five years to get to a place he didn't want to go. That's what business can feel like if you've never picked a destination. Is there any reason you're going one way or another?"
2. Let My People Grow
Hiring smart people is great, but if you micromanage them they won't grow and the business will suffer, Kesslin said.
"You don't let them do your job because 'you know better.' You can't be the expert at everything," he said. "You spend more time working in the business than on the business."
Also, if you're thinking of firing someone but haven't done it, you should, he said. Keeping a person who is not helping the business does not help anyone, including the others who are helping, Kesslin said. "Until you open yourself up to the possibility of better resources, that pain is still going to be there," he said.
3. The 4 Cs: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Communication is important, especially between people with opposing points of view or ways of getting things done." Your company message to the rest of the world should be understood by yourself, your executive team, your customers and then the rest of the world," Kesslin said.
4. Partnership Plan
Seventy-five percent of IT resellers have more than one owner. Which creates conflict. Too often, the owners did not develop a clear direction that can lead to butting heads down the road.
"Does this sound familiar? It seemed like a good idea at the time," he said.
5. Revving The Engine
Developing a scalable, reproducible sales engine is one of the toughest challenges VARs face. About one person interviewed out of 25 or 30 will develop into a superstar salesperson, Kesslin said. And a good sales manager can be even harder to find.
VARs should avoid trying to turn a great sales person into a sales manager because it's a waste of their energy and does not help the business, he said. "A sales manager likes to hunt for people, not for business," he said.