With the pace of technology advancement in the data storage field, it is difficult for end users to keep on top of the latest developments. Providing clients with comprehensive new information on such trends as Storage over IP, SAN/NAS convergence, or iSCSI is a great way to get their attention, add value, and position your company as a partner.
What we suggest is to choose an emerging technology or trend. Let's take SAN/NAS convergence, for example. Have one of your top technologists gather all the information about how using both SAN and NAS in a complimentary fashion can benefit clients. Develop a presentation and hit the road. Ask all of your top clients and prospects to set aside an hour so you can educate them on this topic. You will be amazed at how difficult it is for a client to refuse free information and research. You will also be amazed at how that one hour meeting turns into a three-hour discussion, and you'll set up several follow-up meetings to discuss related storage issues.
Once you've done the research, you can then use this information to develop a white paper positioning your company as a "thought leader" in the area of SAN/NAS convergence. This type of missionary work pays off big particularly in complex areas such a storage infrastructure. Clients want an expert--not an order taker. Position yourself as an expert in convergence and you will start getting invited to storage opportunities you did not even know existed.
In summary, the opportunity for solution providers in the storage arena is enormous. With the right investments in time and money, solution providers can find a niche in storage and evolve their business model to one of high value partnerships and increasing software and services-related profits.