Recently, I read an eye-opening article on LinkedIn titled, “
Rather than fear this change, this can and should be seen as an opportunity to evolve our own offerings in symmetry with the industry’s evolution. When one door closes, another always opens. Following are some tips on how to best embrace this change and use it for your professional benefit.
Knowledge is Power
Whether we realize it or not, our first responsibility to customers is as an educator. Customers look to us for advice and answers, and depend on our expertise to navigate their business. However, once we get customers set up with new technology, that technology enables them to move forward on their own and gain information in a timely and detailed manner. This technology makes them more self-sufficient and less reliant on us, which is a change from the past. But this change shouldn’t be feared – it serves our customers well in not only saving them time and money, but also gives them the ability to chart and change their competitive course much faster.
Seize the Opportunities
This shift in technology provides many new opportunities to us. Instead of simply implementing our products, we can now provide advanced training and guidance to our customers on how to use the tools in ways they have not thought of. We need to share with our customers the best ideas from other clients to bring about change within their organizations. This increasing value provides a win-win for both our organizations and our customers.
In the past, VAR organizations typically asked their CPA firms what software to buy and how to use it. Now we are more and more often dealing directly with executive management at our customers. In fact, VARs are now in the position to recommend CPA firms to customers. There is a real benefit to partnering with CPA firms that recognize this tide of change and work with us to deliver technology, applications and key data in concert with their historical analysis and financial knowledge.
Teach a Man to Fish
As we’ve discussed, we’re both educators and trainers to our customers. Knowing why a customer needs data is as important as how we provide it to them. It’s our responsibility to not simply train a customer on how to create a report, but to show them what data should be in it.
In the aforementioned LinkedIn article, Whitehouse says, “We have trained our clients to avoid us at busy times of our year and penalize them (in the form of hourly billing) for calling to catch up or to ask us a question.”
Yes, we need to bill for our time – for support! But we need to encourage our customers to call us for direction, guidance, and simply to bounce ideas off of. We have the knowledge and the expertise to be a company’s go-to trusted business advisor. Technology is a business accelerator and no one is better equipped to dispense this type of knowledge better than VARs.
There are business opportunities enough for everyone. So take stock of your knowledgebase, partner where necessary and embrace new opportunities to deliver more to your customers. Everyone wins.
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