Through my career as a telecom professional, I’ve been lucky to work for and learn from some incredibly proficient technical leaders. But there was one huge lesson I didn’t learn for years. Let me explain:
Years ago, as a new sales engineer at a large telco I operated wearing blinders, only caring about the product lane we fit in, and not how proposed products and services integrated into the day-to-day operations of the businesses we were working with. My discussions with clients often pushed “best practice” solutions with little to no consideration for their IT organizations’ skillsets or in-house capabilities. This is a disservice to the SMB and Mid-Market space which could possibly result in failed projects, or excessive integrator/consulting work to arrive at a fully delivered technology solution.
IT leadership is incredibly difficult. Leaders must be able to digest technical concepts, hire hard-to-find technical staff, manage dozens of vendors etc. Then add in the critical skill of presenting the budget business case for technical services in non-technical terms for C-Suite leadership who often view their corporate infrastructure like simple home networks. To sum up, these are high-pressure roles with little room for mistakes.
Fast forward to 2018… I decided to take a leap of faith and joined Spearhead to build an elite group of telecom professionals to provide a more intimate and personalized approach to IT procurement and technology transformation. At the center of our organization’s proven success is the core principle is to deliver IT Wisdom. Not just tech expertise, the wisdom to put that expertise to its best possible use for a given client.
And the single secret to delivering that wisdom: Empathy.IT Empathy, as I define it, is taking the time to not only understand the broad organization needing services, but to take the time to fully understand the critical success factors and dependencies from the perspective of the IT Director, CTO, CIO, Manager, etc. What does that look like in practice? Let’s compare and contrast examples:
Office 365 is the way to go. Everyone is moving their services to the cloud.
Where are you in your lifecycle and depreciation of your premise equipment and licensing?
You should go with the SLA-Backed fiber link because broadband is not stable.
Tell me about the applications you will be hosting and your tolerance for an outage?
SD-WAN is going to be an upgrade with more bandwidth. It’s a great platform, so I’d recommend converting from MPLS to managed SD-WAN with internet.
SD-WAN is an emerging technology that could be a valid replacement for traditional MPLS networks.
Before we assume that’s is the right path for your organization, let’s learn (empathetically) more about what you may be comfortable supporting in your organization with your staff – and what you may need to lean on an outsourced management option for. We will also want to discuss your business application policies and how this new design will handle those requirements. Finally, let’s discuss the security implications and ensure you are well prepared to support a multi-vendor SD-WAN environment which will have more moving parts than your traditional MPLS.
These examples demonstrate questions that lead to a true partnership and understanding of the critical success factors after listening carefully to the point of view of the client. This enables you as a sales professional to be empathetic to the daily operational challenges faced by the organization. Communicate on that level with your clients and you are on your way to building quality long term relationships.
Ready for a different, wiser relationship with your technology issues? We are here, listening.
Peter Quinttus is the EVP of Business Development at Spearhead with over ten years of experience in telecom and IT. At Spearhead, Peter leads a team of elite professionals providing a more intimate and personalized approach to IT procurement and technology transformation — that begins with empathy.