7 Misdirected Inbound Marketing Practices That Can Play Wrecking Ball on IT SMEs Bottom Lines

April 20th, 2017

“Morris dancing is the most fatuous, tenth-rate entertainment ever devised by man. Forty effeminate blacksmiths waving bits of cloth they’ve just wiped their noses on. How it’s still going on in this day and age I’ll never know.” ~ Blackadder (Season 1 Episode 2: Born To Be King)

You may or may not agree with Blackadder’s regal taste on this delicate matter and Morris dancing’s place in contemporary entertainment, but he may be right.

But there are seven equally fatuous inbound marketing practices that can cause irreparable damage to IT consulting firms… with or without Morris dancers.

Yes, inbound marketing has been spreading faster than a speeding bullet on steroids, but IT consulting firms that have spent a lifetime using outbound marketing have been adopting inbound marketing simply by reversing outbound marketing.

As David L. Cooperrider and Diana Whitney write in their short book, Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change, you can’t study floatation by observing objects sink and simply reversing your findings.

So, without reversing anything at all, let’s take a closer look at seven inbound marketing problems that can plague IT consulting firms in this month’s article seriously entitled, 7 Misdirected Inbound Marketing Practices That Can Play Wrecking Ball on IT SMEs Bottom Lines.


But Who Brought That Sales Lead In Anyway?

January 25th, 2017

As the old saying goes says “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.

It means it’s easier to have people accept your ideas through polite and reasonable arguments and a bit of flattery than through hard-nosed confrontation.

Nevertheless, using the proverbial vinegar, many IT SMEs hire super-aggressive bulldog type salespeople and send them out to the four winds to dial for dollars and knock on doors to harass innocent people with their idiotic sales pitches.

Somehow, IT leaders ignore the honey-based approach.

An approach that cuts out the mindless chasing after your prospects and magnetically attracts them to you.

And if you employ subcontractors in your business, you’ve already laid the foundations of this honey trap approach.

I know the phrase “honey trap” is used in a drastically different context, but today, we use it for lead generation, which undoubtedly is one of the biggest issues in most IT companies.

For many, the situation is so bad and sales leads are so few and far between that every new sales lead is a cause for major celebration, and IT companies want to turn those leads into paying clients in one fell swoop without any qualification.

But there is a very specific situation when it’s less than obvious who has the lead and who has the right to convert it into a client.

And this is the fiendish topic that we discover in this month’s sinfully sumptuous episode of Tomicide Solutions, mysteriously entitled, But Who Brought That Sales Lead In Anyway?.


What Do You See Looking In 2016’s The Rear-View Mirror?

January 16th, 2017


Do you know that when Arnold Schwarzenegger won his first Mr. Universe title, based on his body mass index (BMI), he was clinically obese?

Not chubby, not even overweight, but downright obese!

Athletes all over the world know that BMI is a bogus index and it has nothing to do with reality. Yet, the medical profession seems to be obsessed with it, and medical zealots prescribe all sorts of idiotic medicines to otherwise healthy people in order to reduce their BMIs.

So, with his obese body, Arnold went on winning three more Mr. Universe titles and seven Mr. Olympia titles.

I reckon if the judges had known that Arnold was obese, they wouldn’t have given him all those titles.

Luckily only the doctors knew that, but since only a very few doctors are worth taking health advice from, their general opinion should be disregarded.

Sadly, the IT industry has its own BMI problem. One of them is gross revenue and the other is headcount.

This is what you can hear business owners brag to their friend and peers about.

“We doubled our gross revenue from last year, so we grew 100%”

“We quadrupled our headcount from last year, so we grew 300%.”

It seems, thanks to the decades-long academic influence, companies believe that success is all about growing gross revenue (often at the expense of net profit) and headcount (often at the expense of productivity).

It seems to me they confuse growth with enlargement.

Is it surprising then that many IT companies make good gross revenue on the surface and have “impressive” headcount, but when we break down their results to profit per employee, their result is as dismal as a waffle?

At the beginning of every new year, we all look back on the previous year and try to summarise how things worked out, what we accomplished, where we came up short, what we managed to make fly and what we flopped.

And this is the disease we attempt to remedy with in this month’s terrifyingly terrific episode of Tomicide Solutions, mysteriously entitled, What Do You See Looking In 2016’s The Rear-View Mirror?.



Please Show Me Your Cost Structure

December 11th, 2016


In the 1960s, some brainiacs in the CIA had a brilliant idea. They decided to use cats to infiltrate the Kremlin and spy on the enemy.

The idea was followed by massive action.

Some CIA people caught a small army of cats, and a vet outfitted them with a sophisticated transmitter system.

Tiny microphones were implanted into the cats’ ears, transmitters into the base of the cats’ skulls and aerials into the cats’ spines and tails.

Ta da… The Acoustic Kitties were born.

The next step was to take the cats to Moscow and release them around the Kremlin.

Both the journey and the release were successful, but then the CIA hit a snag.

Since the cats had no knowledge of the environments, as they tried to cross streets, they got quickly run over. The Acoustic Kitties promptly became acoustic roadkill.

After spending some $20 million on it, in 1967, the CIA dismantled the project.

The surviving cats were flown back to the USA, and after removing the electronics from their bodies, they were released… now on home turf.

I’ve mentioned this interesting story because just as the CIA came across some serious difficulties and didn’t know how to handle it, many IT professionals end up in similar problems when their clients challenge them and want to see itemised invoices of their work.

Clients want to see the exact cost of every nut and bolt IT people have built into their clients’ new systems and they can present Acoustic Kitty-calibre challenges for IT professionals.

Since at this point, projects are about to be completed, the IT people don’t want to upset clients because this is the time to edge for referrals and repeat business.

So, what to do?

In order to avoid confrontations, many IT professionals do show their itemised invoices, and quite often, clients get upset, because they think they can get the same components from local computer stores at lower prices.

While showing your costs is normal if you work on a time plus materials basis, if you work on a fixed fee basis with clients who trust you, this shouldn’t happen.

And this is what we discuss in this month’s vociferously vivacious episode of Tomicide Solutions, mysteriously entitled, Please Show Me Your Cost Structure.



9 Delusions And Misconceptions Procurement Agents Have About Engaging IT Service Providers

November 7th, 2016


As I work with my own IT clients, I also often interact with their clients and other non-IT businesses in search of reliable IT service providers.

They often lament how hard it is to find IT companies that have a healthy balance of technical expertise, business savvy and good bedside (well, serverside) manner.

When I ask them to tell me more about their experiences though, it often turns out that those IT companies started out well at the beginning of their engagements, but then their bedside manner deteriorated over the course of their engagements.

So, I ask further, and it also turns out that their bedside manner deteriorated because of the treatment they received from their clients.

But the good news is that this treatment can be influenced right from the very first contact, and this is what we discuss in this month’s nonequivocatingly eclectic episode of Tomicide Solutions, mysteriously entitled, 9 Delusions And Misconceptions Procurement Agents Have About Engaging IT Service Providers.



The Art And Science Of Offering Options In IT Service Proposals

October 18th, 2016


Do you know which was the shortest war in history?

Well, it was the Anglo-Zanzibar war in 1896.

Believe it or not, it was over in only, depending on sources, between 38 and 45 minutes.

At that time, Zanzibar was a British colony, and the Brits were rather pissed off with Zanzibar’s government.

So one day, the British Navy lined up five warships right in front of the royal palace and blasted it to little pieces.

In the meantime, Royal Marines got on shore and mounted a ground attack.

It took Zanzibar’s leader, Sultan Khalid bin Barghash, about 45 minutes to realise that time was up for him and the Brits had come for his head, so he nonchalantly buggered off to the local German embassy, where the Brits couldn’t reach him.

So, the key to success, and not only in the military, is to have an effective action plan and an overwhelming force to carry out that plan.

And this 45-minute “activity” is interesting because it usually takes less time to reject an IT proposal simply because it’s written incorrectly. It ignores how humans make choices.

And the problem with many IT proposals is that they don’t offer choices. They are “take it or leave it” type documents, and with this approach, IT companies leave big chunks of money on the table.

And this is what we discuss in this month’s hopelessly optimistic episode of Tomicide Solutions, entitled, The Art And Science Of Offering Options In IT Service Proposals


Six Client Acquisition Obstacles IT Marketers Face And How To Handle Them

July 8th, 2016

Andrew Jackson, the seventh US president, once said, “I have no respect for a man who knows only one way to spell a word.”

Interestingly, many IT SME leaders know three ways of spelling the phrase “business development”:

  1. Cold calling grunt work
  2. Pavement-pounding drudgery
  3. RFP lunacy

In terms of grammar, all three are 100% correct.

In terms of common sense and profitability, all three are as flawed as my solar-powered pancake griddle.

Then why do so many IT SME firm leaders insist on performing these random acts of idiocy?

In most cases it’s not because they believe in these methods.

They use them because they have serious conceptual problems in their heads.

And the problem is based on the now obsolete sales techniques they learnt a long time ago from the sales gurus of the 70s and 80s who are traversing the world and teaching the same success techniques that made them successful… in a world that no longer exist.

The fact that those tricks don’t work anymore seems to be irrelevant. They teach them anyway. And many business leaders end up learning something that’s as obsolete as 8-track tapes, disco music and Jane Fonda type aerobics leg warmers.

And this is what we discuss in this month’s hopelessly optimistic episode of Homicide Solutions, entitled, Six Client Acquisition Obstacles IT Marketers Face And How To Handle Them


17 Philosophical Differences Between Respected IT Authorities And Fungible IT Vendors

May 15th, 2016

As we get deeper and deeper in to the knowledge age and the age of the knowledge worker, the wider the gap becomes between respected authority type IT companies and fungible vendor type IT companies.

Interestingly, the former charge much higher than going rates, yet have massive waiting lists.
The latter charge competitive(ly low) rates, yet struggle to hunt down every single client one by painstakingly one.

And as I work both with IT authorities that want to reinforce and further stabilise their authority positions and IT vendors who want to get out of the vendor trap, I distil some key concepts in my head that I believe are worth writing down.

And this is what we discuss in this month’s eye-poppingly inconspicuous
episode of Tomicide Solutions, entitled, 17 Philosophical Differences Between Respected IT Authorities And Fungible IT Vendors


Are You Growing Or Merely Enlarging Your IT Business?

April 26th, 2016

Have you heard that the famous Guinness beer has quite a bit of fluctuation in taste?

Yes, it’s true. There is a place in Dublin, Ireland, called the Gravity Bar. Many people who’ve ever drunk Guinness there think that the company makes special batches of Guinness especially for the Gravity Bar.

But that’s not true.

What is true is that every 3C temperature change between brewing and serving drastically alters the beer’s taste.

It’s not a problem with Gravity because Guinness owns it and guards the temperature like a junkyard dog.

So, the even temperature preserves the taste and generates comments from guests that Guinness tastes significantly better at Gravity than anywhere else.

In business development, a modest 3C change can make the difference between growing a business as opposed to merely enlarging it.

Enlargement is good for big public corporations because Wall Street judges them based on gross revenue.

But entrepreneurial SMEs have no option but to turn profits or they go down the toilet faster than you could say pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis.

And this is what we discuss in this month’s hilariously horrific episode of Tomicide Solutions, entitled, Are You Growing Or Merely Enlarging Your IT Business?.


Good IT Companies Have Sales Goals And Sales Superstars; Great Ones Have Sales Systems

March 7th, 2016


John was a huge African-American chap working as a steel driver at the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad in the 1940s. He was drilling holes and banging steel spikes into rocks with his 14-pound hammer.

John could go 10-12 feet in one single workday.

There was no one in the vicinity who could come even close to John’s incredible performance.

Then one day, a salesman showed up selling a steam-powered drilling machine.

He told management his steam-powered drill could out-drill any human.

Yes, any human, but not John – the manager thought.

So, there was a contest between John and the steam-drill machine.

John grabbed two 20-pound hammers, one in each hand, and the contest started between man and machine.

The machine was drilling and John was tirelessly pounding with both hands.

The contest ended with John’s victory.

The human outperformed the machine.

The men were rolling on the ground laughing at the braggadocio drill peddler and his useless contraption.

The triumphant John raised his hammers to the sky as the workers were shouting and cheering.

But then all of a sudden, John felt dizzy with exhaustion.

The hammers fell from his hands and he fell to the ground.

He closed his eyes, and never opened them again.

He died from a burst blood vessel in his brain.

Yes, John defeated the machine, but only for a short time. C&O Railroad’s greatest driller, the legendary John Henry was dead. Even the drilling legend couldn’t beat the machine.

Can you?

Are you willing to run the risk of dying even to try?

And the sad reality is that while John was walloping spikes in the 1940, almost 100 years later, many IT SMBs do the equivalent of manual spike-walloping in their own businesses: Dialling for dollars and banging on doors in the hope of conjuring up the next big contract.

And they set their sales goals on more dial pad banging, door-banging and responding to more RFPs.

And this mindless futility is what we discuss in this month’s horrifyingly electrifying episode of Tomicide Solutions, entitled, Good IT Companies Have
Sales Goals And Sales Superstars; Great Ones Have Sales Systems