If the latest economic indicator reports are valid (and that can be a big if), those with whom you do business are starting to see some real growth potential. While this is happening very slowly, it does change a number of parameters that can affect how you do things in the future.
For the vendors, distributors, and other professionals you depend on, this slight upward turn is most certainly better news than the opposite data we have been seeing for over 30 months. But it can also be a warning flag to everyone in the industry.
Because whenever there is growth, it’s not spread evenly around and you need to carefully evaluate your relationships with suppliers, integrators and other professionals to see who is keeping up with the changes and who is merely happy with the status quo.
Because we have all been in hunker-down and protect mode for so long, it’s going to require a mindset change for the technology vendors to shift into a “go after the business” approach to day-to-day operations. This means that you have an opportunity to look for companies that are seeking your business and willing to work hard to get it.
These changes also open the door for you to refresh your network of contacts. I am sure that there are people out there you haven’t talked to in quite some time, maybe since their last contact with you.
Consider asking for a free system update check, or a free evaluation of your specific hardware/software situation. This is a great way to learn what latest technologies, products and services available to you.
Remember a lot of these people don’t even think about you unless they you remind them you are there. Their focus is too often on NEW business and not on maintaining relationships with past customers.
But even more importantly it also a huge opportunity to restart your local/regional contacts list. Consider checking with other people in your world — sort of like checking on the competition. If you haven’t been to local B-to-B function in a while, time to get out of the office and schmooze. Do you really know what’s going on around you? What the potential suppliers, integrators and distributors are saying and doing?
Have you sent any of your people for training and enhanced their ability to help you improve your operation? Have you asked your suppliers to provide training and system updates? It’s a great way to re-open doors and simultaneously keep your staff up to date on the hardware and software.
When was the last time you went to an industry event to update yourself on current products and possibilities? You need to stay current so you can take advantage of what your suppliers can provide. If you don’t have a basic understanding of what’s new to the marketplace, you can’t make informed decisions. Let’s remember that, in some way, everyone has competition. Perhaps not in the conventional sense, but within your niche, there are certainly others who do what you do. If nothing else you are “competing” for a mindshare.
Of course everyone has to deal with budgets and cost controls, but that should not be an impediment to enhancing your technology base, especially if those improvements also bring a solid ROI.