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The Secret To SLED Market Success? Easy Detective Work

"Any [solution provider] who bothers to put together even the scantest amount of information is many steps ahead of a competitor," said SLED analyst Chris Dixon at XChange 2018.

The state, local and education (SLED) market is ripe for solution providers to capture new customers if they are willing to put the researching leg work in and follow the local news.

"The great thing about the SLED market compared to the private sector market is intelligence on this market is available everywhere, and it's free," said Chris Dixon, senior manager, SLED industry analysis for ERP software vendor Deltek, during a session at XChange 2018 on Sunday. "Any [solution provider] who bothers to put together even the scantest amount of information is many steps ahead of a competitor."

For example, Dixon said he discovered by reading his local newspaper last week that a school district was undergoing budget and staff cuts due to a failed tax hike vote for more funding. By simply researching online, Dixon was able to obtain information about the school district's technology expenditures, IT infrastructure budget, the contact information for the school's technology leader, and even the number and types of servers installed.

"These are the things I look for as clues to how I might want to approach this entity to do business," said Dixon. "Now you're starting to pull together a picture of what their operational environment looks like ... It's not glamorous, but it’s the kind of spadework it takes to begin building public sector business."

[Related: Schneider Electric Launches 'Invaluable' SaaS Platform To Boost Channel Sales]

He said solution providers can capitalize on new SLED opportunities by following the news, gathering public information on the target customer, then presenting a way to help solve a dilemma through technology.

Harold Robinson, CEO of Turn Key Solutions, a Baton Rouge, La.-based solution provider, said he recently help solve a dilemma with the clerk's office for a local government customer in Louisiana after learning the newly elected candidate was having difficulties.

"She got elected for saying she was going to revolutionize her office through technology. After she got elected, we learned that she was frustrated with her own staff, who couldn't react fast enough," said Robinson. "She was going to take an antiquated system and transform it – that's where we come in. We brought our expertise into her organization to help deal with that and deal with the vendors."

Robinson said many SLED organizations have inadequate staff or a tight budget, which makes channel partners the ideal solution. "We're able to direct them on how to get more efficient with what they have," he said.

Dixon said solution providers who keep a keen eye on the local and state business news can stay ahead of the competition.

"You have to be watching and hit it hard when it happens. Just by researching your own community and your own metropolitan area, you can learn about business opportunities just by reading about what's going on in your own community," said Dixon.

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