Sunday, July 20, 2008

Small Business Specialist Certification

Came across this interesting video interview with Harry Brelsford. In it he says that his business, SMBNation, is packaging up his Small Business Specialist training material and delivering it as a set curriculum that “anyone” can use to obtain their Small Business Specialist Certification. He cites the examples of high school kids as well as community colleges as the intended targets for this material.

 

Like most technology certifications, it is clear that the Small Business Specialist qualification is now far too common and no longer could effectively be used as a differentiation point for your business. Sure, it is good that the qualification perhaps ensures all Small Business Specialists have a minimum level of qualifications but is that really true? I’m pretty sure, like most other technology qualifications, you can still obtain the certification without knowing anything about Small Business Server.

 

Combine this growing legion of Small Business Specialists with the greater simplicity of SBS 2008, now what is your businesses point of differentiation? Most claims along the lines of “we do it better” or “we fix the mess others leave behind” don’t seem to work. Once an owner has been bitten by a bad technology provider they are going to be pretty gun shy of the next one who comes along, no matter how good they are. In many cases you as the new technology provider is going to be lumbered with the residual poor installation implemented by the previous incumbent. Worse than that, chances are the business owner isn’t going to want to spend much more money “fixing” the problem, simply because they have already shelled out a pretty penny for what they already have. So beware, following some previous IT provider into a business, you may simply end up being the whipping “boy” for an owner is looking to take their previous frustrations out on.

 

As a technology provider you are generally selling status quo. That is, today nothing happened on the server just like yesterday and the day before and the day before and so on. Most customers don’t understand the value of this and therefore get lulled into a concern that they are “paying you for nothing”. Its hard to sell the status quo, especially when you look and sound like everyone else claiming to sell it. So what’s your “secret sauce” (as Harry Brelsford would say) that helps you stand out from the crowd to customers and prospects?

 

You need to help prospects and customers understand the VALUE you bring to their business. If you simply “fix” technology then there are others out there who’ll do it cheaper, quicker and against whom you don’t stand a chance if you fight on their terms. Why do people but something like a Mercedes when a Fiesta basically does the same thing? Understand that and you are well on your way to understanding VALUE in the eyes of the prospect or customer.