Page 2 of 2
Henry Chace, CIO at Burns & Levinson LLP, a Boston-based law firm, concurred that solution providers need to be patient with customers and earn their trust over time.
"It's all about the relationship. Solution providers are important to me to provide education. You're in the trenches providing solutions to customers. I appreciate the education you bring me. It makes my job easier. When we were selecting a new VoIP system, a lot of it was the integrator relationship. We weren't going for the cheapest [quote], we were choosing a long-term solution," Chace said.
If CIOs get edgy about building trust with a VAR, it's only because they've been burned in the past. Western Governors University's Nickolaisen relayed a story in which a solution provider told him it was impossible to integrate Amazon Web Services with the rest of his systems.
"They said, 'You can't do it.' Even though I know thousands of companies are putting stuff on the cloud. He was unaware of what the options were. That's somebody we don't work with anymore," Nickolaisen said. "I need to know what's possible because I don't know what's possible. I need to work with people who are at least a little on the leading edge. Not necessarily the bleeding edge, but at least the leading edge. I don't have time to be a cloud expert or a consumerization or BYOD expert. I need people more knowledgeable than me to climb with me."
The CIOs also cautioned solution providers in the audience not to waste time cold-calling them. Relationships are often formed through referrals and more informal introductions, they said.
"Ten out of 10 times, CIOs will not take a cold call. And if you expect sales that moment, it's not going to happen. We need to see value-add to build a relationship," said Farm Credit Services of Illinois' Fielder.
Added Chace: "It's not QVC. We're not looking for a pen or a dress. I get referrals from other CIOs that are using their services. It's a challenge. Is the person informative? Can I learn from them?"