My dad drives a van. He loves how much stuff he can cram into it when he is taking a road trip, which he does very often. He replaces the van every few years, with the same make and model, but new. He constantly complains about the handling, the road noise, poor workmanship, and a myriad of other things. But he still buys the same van.
Why? because he loves the service that he gets at the dealership where he buys them from. He knows the salesman (who deserves a promotion), and can call up the service department any time with a question or to book an appointment.
He doesn’t own one piece of paraphernalia with the van’s logo on it. Not even a keychain.
My Dad is of course a creature of habit, but is also a fine example of service loyalty. That dealership has worked hard to build his trust, and is rewarded with his business. He trusts what they have to say, to the point where he drives what I consider a piece of junk – but that they stand behind.
I see this more and more in the software business these days. Software vendors constantly have to go and ‘re-sell’ their products to companies that have been their customers for years. A lot of this has to do with cost-cutting, a shifting IT landscape, and other hard factors, but the primary driver in many cases is trust.
A customer may see a software vendor once a quarter or even once a year, and hear from them via phone or email once in a while in between visits. Meanwhile, most companies these days outsource a lot of key services, and those third party Professional Services firms spend every day in the trenches right next to the full time staff. They know what the company’s pains are, and what is being done about them. They are battle hardened, and have proven themselves to be problem solvers. So, when it comes to deciding what solution to choose for solving the latest business challenge, who is the company going trust?
Conversely, a Professional Services organization is not going to jeopardize their trusted advisor status by recommending the wrong product. They will do their research, and get to know the vendors that they ultimately recommend. And companies know that, which is why they listen to the services firms.
If you are an Enterprise Software Vendor in today’s market, having a channel that allows you to work with the trusted advisors on the inside of the organization just makes sense. Leverage service loyalty as a strategy. And build a quality brand so that the service partners want to recommend your product.
Make it so my dad would want to spend money with you.