Teaching Technopreneurs running a $3M tech shop to act like Fortune 500 Silicon Valley enterprise is less of a business switch and more of a mental adjustment.
It’s the same story almost every time I talk to a Technopreneur who runs a small/ mid-tier Cloud, a Big Data or CyberSecurity company.
They are struggling to grow, they are taking every meeting with any potential client they can get, they end up with awful clients, and although they have confidence in their abilities and service, they don’t have a clear direction of where to go next.
The first thing I tell them to do is to stop chasing business. The second thing I tell them to do is to treat their firm like what it is: a business selling a service to another B2B business or a consumer who buys a thousand things a year.
“You’re not as different as you think you are.”
Technopreneurs I talk to almost universally treat their firms as some entity that is separate from the world of business. I get it, I have been in this industry for ages, and the amount of tradition, rules, education path, and history behind the tech industry makes it seem like it’s less of an industry and more of a collection of like-minded professionals.
But the truth is, tech firms operate in the exact same environment as every other business. Just ask the clients.
One of the first hard conversations I have to have with a Technopreneur who wants to improve their business metrics, is that their clients are used to interacting with services and businesses in a very specific manner.
People are being bombarded with the latest marketing mix from massive corporations, to local businesses in all aspects of their personal and professional lives. Although the methods may change with the ebb and flow of technology and research, people have become accustomed to personalized and immediate access to brands and information.
The hard-hitting revelation to Technopreneurs is that although their services are specialized, pricy, and important… they are just that: services for other businesses who buy a thousand things a year. The same methods of growing a tech firm in 1998 just aren’t going to cut it for today’s short attention span consumers.
Blissful ignorance isn’t the norm.
I’m not saying people are less likely to pay attention to information than they were 30-40 years ago when handshakes sold tech services, in fact I’m saying quite the opposite. The short attention spans, and the marketing that caters to those spans, exist because buyers are ravenous about information.
Services are no longer assumed useful just because there’s another tech firm with a few extra years of experience standing behind brand. In fact, we’ve moved far beyond the ‘trust but verify’ stage of marketing into the realm of distrust until proven otherwise. People do their own research today for everything they consume, and the firms that still don’t have a modern online presence boggle my mind.
I was talking to a tech firm just the other week that had a potentially multi-million dollar revenue client referred to them by another firm and they lost that client because their website looked like a mouse rolled across a keyboard when their developer stepped away from their laptop.
A poor website broke the holy grail of new clients – a referral. If evidence of a poor web presence breaking the cornerstone of tech everywhere isn’t enough evidence to show that firms need to catch up with modern marketing, then it looks like the firms that do get it are going to have their pick of the litter.
How firms can borrow from the Fortune 500
We’ve established that the business who need tech products or services are the same consumers who buy from hundreds of other companies and that they will have the same general process for acquiring services and products. Naturally, Technopreneur who want to appeal to today’s buyers need to borrow some of the strategies from successful multi-billion dollar tech enterprises.
Here’s what I tell tech firms who need to grow:
Know exactly who you want to walk through your door. A mid-size firm should know the demographics and the case types of their best clients. One of the first things I tell a firm to do is to stop chasing potential clients they don’t actually want and focus on discovering potential clients that will set the firm up for success. Creating fictional buyer personas, or ideal client personas, is a great way to know who to look for.
Don’t sink your time into marketing. Technopreneurs think that they have to split their time between attracting new clients and working with current clients. I say that they didn’t spend years in the tech industry to become marketers, and marketing is changing at light speed (way faster than the tech you MUST stay on top of). Find a way to have an expert run a successful marketing strategy for you, and then focus on representing your clients and providing quality service.
Interact personally with your potential clients and don’t wait until they are in your office. Consumers are used to getting the service they need from the comfort of their favorite chair at home. This only raises the barrier to getting a potential client into your office. Interact with your ideal client groups before they ever set foot in your office. Run webinars, post frequently on social media, and give your potential clients a library of videos so that they can feel like they are getting to know you. After all, you can find a video on just about any company outside of the tech industry.
Set goals and measure everything. Running a tech firm is a business, and it wouldn’t make sense for a business to be throwing money at initiatives without any idea if they will work. Tech firms should measure every marketing activity and Technopreneurs should have a solid grasp of what their marketing strategy is doing, what their KPIs are, and how their marketing mix is currently performing. On any given day, Technopreneurs should be able to look up their current return on their marketing spend and at the same time, understand the trend of the strategy as a whole.
That’s they way Technopreneurs should shift their thinking and start acting like Fortune 500 Tech shop.
Are you ready?
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