How do we keep our companies competitive and relevant for years to come?
Chances are, if you’re in the C-Suite, you think about this question often. Remaining relevant in a crowded marketplace is challenging in any industry, but is exponentially more difficult for those of us at the helm of technology-based companies.
Our world is one where you must compete with emerging technologies from innovative startups as well as legacy products from global giants such as Google, IBM and Apple. For tech companies of any size, especially those situated in the middle of the spectrum, it can be hard to maintain a competitive advantage and increase revenues each year.
One strategic way that an enterprise can avoid getting lost in the shuffle is by adding value-added services to its offerings that can be easily bundled with the company’s bread and butter products. This strategy helps you retain existing customers who are pleased with your current offerings while simultaneously attracting new prospects who may have additional needs or requirements.
But how do you find the right mix of old and new? Below are four tips to enhance your company’s services and improve your bottom line.
- Stay current. Before you can determine what needs to be added to your current business offerings, you need to know how the market is changing and what impact those changes are having on customer demands.
For this reason, it is critical that you and your team talk with customers every day and stay current with industry trends. Many customers, especially in the tech industry, are looking for companies that provide the latest and greatest products and services. How can you be sure you’re offering them what they want if you don’t know what they are looking for?
A great way to stay current is to identify some trade outlets that are closely related to your field, and consistently read the articles and topics covered by those outlets. Journalists typically only write about things that are new, cutting edge or particularly innovative, so keeping up with what they are covering means you are up to date too. Also, following these same trade outlets on social media and interacting with their followers will shed light on what customers are thinking, looking for and talking about. Another tip if you’re on the go and don’t have a lot of time to invest in reading full-length articles: Many trade outlets have a newsletter. Subscribe to a few and receive top headlines in your industry right in your inbox.
Also, ask your sales team what they are hearing on the streets. They talk to customers and prospects every day, too, so they have a pulse on industry trends and can also provide insight into how the market currently views your company and its product portfolio.
- Everybody loves one stop shopping. Convenience has always been key with consumers, but it is also a growing key factor among business customers as well. Just like individuals, companies don’t want to have to pick and choose among different providers for all the services and products needed to successfully run an organization. Capitalizing on convenience is why companies like Apple are so successful. Apple creates devices that act as both your phone and computer, a Swiss Army knife of sorts for your documents, apps, photos, music and more. Your tech company, regardless of specialty, should aim to do the same: provide products and services that meet all your consumers’ IT needs.
For example, ANEXIO, the company where I serve as CEO, began as a desktop support company and has evolved into a full spectrum IT Services company with a broad portfolio of data center, cloud services, managed IT and managed voice offerings so that our customers can address all their tech needs in one place with one trusted provider.
Adding additional services takes both time and money, but can be worthwhile if they increase revenue in the long run. Put yourself in your target customer’s shoes and ask, “What else do they want or need?” Then, find the tools and resources necessary to offer these things and make them available at a competitive rate.
- Bundle with a purpose. Once you have identified the additional services you want to offer, and have gathered the appropriate resources to bring those services up to standard, it’s time to strategize how to bundle. You’ll need a clearly defined value proposition explaining how your new services add value.
An easy way to convince an apprehensive or risk averse buyer is to offer a free trial which allows them to test out some of the new services without having to commit. A limited time only free trial offer can help push the customer who is choosing between similar companies to go with yours, since you will be providing them with so much extra value. Also, it is crucial that the bundles you offer truly are competitively priced. Make sure to do your research and offer deals that provide the most bang for their buck, especially in this post-recession economy where every CEO is tasked with doing more with less.
- Listen to your customers. Once your bundles have been in the market for a few months, don’t be afraid to adjust the offer based on the customer feedback that you receive. Outside-of-the-box thinking is needed and most likely to come directly from the customers who have been trying your new services. Many a customer success story revolves around listening to customers, hearing an out-of-the-box idea from them and then discovering an entirely new market opportunity that you didn’t know existed. Listening to customers can pay off in the long run.
Bolstering your portfolio, when done strategically, can ultimately help push through deals with customers who may be struggling to decide between your company and a competitor. Adding products or services that are related to your company’s current offerings can help make your business be perceived as a one stop shop, which is very beneficial in a saturated market of providers that simply cannot meet customer needs and requirements.
Customers will feel more in control of their own business operations because they can pick and choose and mix and match from services that are conveniently presented to them all in one place, and save money doing it. Adding on services related to your industry is no longer a “nice to have,” but rather a necessity to remain competitive in the ever-changing IT market.