A 'Menu' Of Products, Services Puts Solution Providers On Path To Resiliency In An Unpredictable Market

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Combining a lifecycle approach to selling solutions while organizing offerings similar to the way a restaurant organizes a menu can help solution providers maintain a resilient, sustainable business even in an ever-changing market.

"We're in an industry that changes faster than we can adapt to that technology," Lesley Meunier, senior manager of social media at ConnectWise, told an audience at The Channel Company's XChange Solution Provider 2018 conference in Orlando, Fla., Monday. "But developing resiliency, a balanced, diversified book of business, allows you to create a stable, trustworthy, money-generating company."

Meunier explained that solution providers could benefit from organizing their offerings and resources into toolkits, technology teams and solutions menus that align closely with the demands of customers and prospects while remaining flexible.

By using the solutions menu approach, Meunier said, solution providers can more quickly tap into new revenue streams and provide better customer service.

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"An accounting firm is probably already using a lot of things on the menu, but it can grow in security," Meunier said. "Push them into security, disaster recovery. A construction firm might need collaboration solutions and on-site computing. Different customers will have different solutions that are relevant to their business."

By combining the menu approach with a lifecycle management strategy, solution providers stand to make themselves indispensable to customers, Meunier said.

A lifecycle strategy helps solution providers bring customers through the processes of landing, installing, embedding, managing, renewing and expanding technology. "Every time you bring in a new [item] from the solutions menu, work the lifecycle strategy for each," Meunier said.

Once a strong, menu-based product strategy is in place, solution providers can stand out by offering services, Meunier said.

Customers, Meunier said, "don't need all the bells and whistles of every product. Services are your most important offering. It's where you set yourself apart from the competition. What are you going to do to make your offering different? 'We're going to come to your office, train your staff and make sure everyone is fully aligned.'"

James Dublin, CEO of Dublin Technologies Inc., a Chicago, Ill., health care-focused solution provider, said Meunier's approach makes sense for his firm, which is eyeing expansion into new lines of business. "Right now we have a very service-oriented approach when we deal with our health care customers, but we also recognize that there are opportunities to expand into other areas, like security, even physical security. A couple of our clients have issues with security as it relates to accessing sensitive information."

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