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2 min read

Power of Physical Presence

By Adam Walter on Oct 3, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/ds2OMZ8lIPQ

Let’s admit it. Those of us in IT tend to be reclusive. It’s in our nature to “avoid” seeing the customer and instead do our work at our desks - after all, it’s where are able to accomplish the most. However, let’s consider stepping away from our desks and seeing what we can accomplish when we choose to be present with our customers.

The power of physical presence is severely underestimated in the world of IT. You’re still able to get just as much work done whether you’re present with your customers or if you’re at your desk in your office - the key is to change the perspective of your to-do list.

When you’re present with your customers, you may not be closing out tasks or getting things done that are technical in nature, but you are working on one of the most vital aspects of any successful business: relationships. Speaking face-to-face with your customers allows you to establish a connection and develop your relationship, which is just as important as the technical tasks on your to-do list.

Physical presence allows for engagement. Sometimes, engaging with your clients is as easy as popping your head into their office to say “hello.” When both you and your client are able to match a face to the voice you and they have become familiar with, the relationship becomes even stronger. Your client is able to humanize you, and you become much more to them than their vendor.

When you feel like more than just a vendor to your client, their trust in you grows significantly. Trust will increase your client’s tolerance, specifically for those inevitable mistakes that will happen. No matter how much you avoid it, mistakes will occur, and when they do, you’re going to want to have a strong relationship there to catch you when you fall.

The power of physical presence is also applied to colleagues that you may only know virtually. When you are present with your colleagues, you get to know their mannerisms and learn about what makes them happy, what makes them upset, etc. There may be times when they’re having a bad day and struggling to adequately complete their tasks. When you have a connection established with your colleague, you’ll recognize that they’re not an incompetent employee, but rather trying to get back into their working element. The takeaway here? When you’re present with your colleagues or clients, it offers the opportunity for empathy to exist in your relationship.

Don’t stress yourself out trying to physically be everywhere that your clients and colleagues are at all times; they don’t expect these physical engagements to occur often, and you shouldn’t, either. However, make sure that you are setting aside time once in a while to be present with the people you work with so that your relationship with them is based on something stronger than the occasional email.

Speaking of physical presence, we would love to have yours at IT Nation Connect 2022 on Wednesday, November 9, when Humanize IT competes in the PitchIT competition for a grand prize of $70,000. I have been communicating with so many of you for years, and look forward to the opportunity to finally shake your hands!

Topics: vCIO QBR Quarterly Business Review Humanize Podcast
2 min read

Power of Collaboration

By Adam Walter on Sep 26, 2022

We’re all passionate about something. At Humanize IT, our passion is helping MSPs have better conversations - not presentations - with their clients. Imagine how much better an individual’s passion for something could be if they collaborated on it with others.

Collaboration is key to discovering new ideas, improving concepts, and bettering discussion. You have to remember that you’re not the only intelligent person in the room. When you are willing to collaborate with other smart individuals in the same room as you, you are able to create an even better product than if you were to attempt it on your own. If you were to decide to take the venture alone, you would be left with only your own ideas; we don’t even want to think about all of the value lost if you chose to not receive input from others.

Humanize IT frequently invites experts from various areas to join the podcast as guest speakers. From cyber security pros to published authors, we’ve seen many types of talents come onto the podcast and share their knowledge. Every single time, it produces a valuable discussion where both sides share their experiences, knowledge, questions, answers, and ideas.

MSPs (and other types of businesses) should prioritize collaboration when meeting with their customers. Have you ever left a client meeting feeling really great about the outcome? It was likely because you and the other individuals were truly collaborating and working together in the conversation. When ideas and opinions from both sides are shared, you’re always able to do more.

Collaborative conversations can also turn into a debate. So long as it doesn’t result in an argument, this isn’t a bad thing. A debate is typically a sign that both sides are heavily weighing the facts and putting their heads together to come up with answers. A collaborative conversation should also have a leader. The leader isn’t there to “be in charge” but rather to ensure that everyone in the room is truly being heard. Think of them as the judge of a tennis match; they are watching two sides go back and forth and ensuring the conversation stays “in bounds,” or within the scope of the topic.

Activity is important to producing a fruitful discussion. Does your team spend meetings scrolling through their phones or picking at their coffee cup? If so, you’re not going to have a good discussion because there is a serious lack of engagement. Engagement is key to collaboration.

In order to get your team to be engaged in the conversation, you, as the leader, must make them feel valued. Simply telling them “Thanks for coming to this meeting, I really value your time!” is not going to do the trick. Instead, make eye contact with them and ask them for their opinion on the topic. For example, if your CFO has not offered their input, try asking aloud what the estimated financial impact will be on the project that is being discussed. This is an easy way to give them a cue and invite them to join the conversation.

When you are looking for the outcast in the room who isn’t contributing to the conversation, consider that they may be someone who isn’t comfortable speaking in front of others, especially if it’s a larger group. Try pulling them aside after the meeting so they can speak to you one-on-one and offer their ideas in a setting that may put them at ease.

All collaboration will be unique depending on the people involved, the topic being discussed, and the knowledge and ideas being laid out on the table. You’ll know you’re on the right track when you are humanizing the conversation so that will be able to relate to each other once again.

Topics: vCIO QBR Quarterly Business Review Humanize Podcast
2 min read

Stop Wasting Words: Part 2

By Adam Walter on Sep 19, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/LneGDVsfipY

Last week, we introduced the concept of “wasting words” and discussed the ways that people are being wasteful with their language. This week, author Sean Mahar joins us again to address how people can have better conversations and stop wasting their words.

You’ve explained the idea of wasting words to your employees, but how do you actually change their mindset about conversations? It can be difficult to adjust your conversation tactics so that you are talking with people rather than at people. Instead of talking at people, try to accomplish something with your conversation. This is your opportunity to make a difference.

For example, your goal should not be to simply compliment someone - it should be to make them feel good. Rather than delegating something to a colleague, your goal should be to encourage them to actually get the task done. Instead of giving feedback to your employee, the idea should be to help them to become better next year.

It’s also a challenge to ensure that the information is actually received - not just delivered. We have been trained to believe that if the person we are speaking to is able to repeat back to us the information we just shared, then that means the message got through to them. This is not the case, as it’s easy for someone to repeat back exactly what they just heard. To confirm that the message itself actually got through to the person you are speaking with, try asking them to repeat the information back to you in their own words. If they’re able to accurately restate the message - perhaps with words that have more meaning to them - then you know that your words were absorbed by them.

Another way of ensuring that your message is received is by being selective about the questions you ask. Rather than asking questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no” - for example, “Do you understand?” - ask a question that forces the person to respond in their own words. “What is the actionable item?” is used often around here.

The more conscious you become of your own communication processes, the more successful you will be in every aspect of life. You can start by looking at the way you treat people and your conversations with them. Strong communication will result in you being able to do an action based on what they said (or vice versa). Ultimately, this will help you sell more for your business, enjoy talking to your clients, and feel happier when walking into meetings or appointments that you may have otherwise dreaded.

When we make those important connections and build up strong relationships by being more conscious about our communication style, we can feel more confident in our conversations. Next time you have a conversation with someone new, ask yourself at the end what you have learned about them. What do you know about them? How can you get on the same page as them? If you are able to answer these questions, you’re on the right track to better communication. Changing your conversations is key to your business.

A technician can spend all day changing their process to be better at their job, but they’re ultimately just chasing pennies. Learn to be a better, genuine communicator to chase the real relationships that lead to huge success.

Topics: Strategic Leadership Client Success Humanize Podcast
2 min read

Stop Wasting Words: Part-1

By Adam Walter on Sep 12, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/rlKx8_Toa4k

This week, author Sean Mahar joins us to discuss the concept of his book, Stop Wasting Words: Leading Through Conscious Communication. What does it mean to waste one’s words, and what are people doing (or perhaps saying) to make their words wasteful?

If the idea of wasting your words is hard to grasp, try thinking of your words as your time. You surely wouldn’t be wasteful with precious time, and your words are no different. If a loved one were reaching their final moments, would you spend this time with them chattering about trivial and unimportant matters? Absolutely not! You would pour out words that are meaningful and touching. Doing this is important in far more life aspects than simply when it’s time to say goodbye to a loved one. Being intentional about using meaningful words has an effect on your relationships - both personal and professional - as well as your success.

There are words that accomplish things and there are words that can prolong or diminish success. In order to ensure we are using words that accomplish things, we must be using the right words and terminology in the correct settings. When you are meeting with a client, are you using words that matter to you or words that matter to them?

This results in the challenge of figuring out what words are meaningful to the person you are having the conversation with. Meanings of words are assigned by the receiver of the conversation - not the sender. In order to figure out what words will work for the receiver, you must abandon the meanings that you, the sender, hold to those words.

Let’s look at the word ‘table.’ You mention to someone that your table has a few weak spots. The person receiving your words may assign a different meaning to the word ‘table’ than what you intended. Is it a dining table? Chess table? Poker table? Pool table? Does it seat four, six, or eight people? Does it have chairs or specific accessories? They may even think of a completely different type of table, such as an SQL table. The person is now trying to nail down what exactly you mean by the word ‘table.’ As a result, you can’t accuse the receiver of misinterpreting your words. You can only blame yourself for not having found the best words to work with.

Words are also wasted when the sender does not attach any meaning to them, either. Take this situation as an example: A leader of a company schedules a meeting for employees to come together and share their thoughts about a certain issue. This meeting eventually became a “word throwing competition” where everyone showed up to simply throw their words out there, and no one was there to catch (receive) these words. At the end of the meeting, no one truly heard anyone else’s words, because no one was using their words as a way to get something done.

When we look at words as ways to tell people what to do, explain things, or give praise, we tend to throw some words out there and hope for the best. However, when we view words as a tool to accomplish something for someone - for example, you want to make them feel good about something - words are better received and understood. This often requires the prerequisite of learning about the person you are having the conversation with, such as their traits and preferences.

Next week, we will dive into how to have these better conversations and how to relate to people by no longer wasting your words.

Topics: IT Sales Person Managed Services Providers Humanize Podcast
3 min read

It’s the Little Things

By Adam Walter on Sep 6, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/I_RZo9MXaBQ

As an MSP, you’re going to have moments when you mess up. There will be times when you forget a project or miss a deadline. Have you built up enough goodwill with your clients that in these instances, they’re going to tell you that it’s okay?

Let’s paint the picture using chips. Your client has a bag that, anytime you do something nice for them or perform a favor, a chip gets placed in the bag. Eventually, you’re going to withdraw chips from that bag when you need a favor of your own - but what happens when there are no chips in that bag? Well, the bag is likely to be thrown at you.

There are some people that are constantly doing nice things for other people, though they never spend the chips they earn by asking for favors of their own. They’ve built their business and are unaware of how to ask for help due to being too independent. It’s important to not only collect chips, but to spend them, as well. You must have a flow of exchange in order to develop a mature and productive relationship with your client.

This is where the little things come into play.

To build this relationship with your client, you have to remember the little things. For example, if your client has a sticky mouse, replacing it with a new one may mean more to them than the hours upon hours you spent replacing their entire server farm. Though the server farm was a much more difficult project and far more beneficial for the business as a whole, the replacement of the mouse is something that they will think about every time they sit at their desk and use it. Your client will remember this little thing you did for them that left a big impact on their daily work routine, and it will leave a lasting impression.

Sometimes, the little things might not make sense to you. You might not understand what these little things mean to your client or even appreciate the value they place on them. Though it seems minor to you, it is a big, meaningful deal to your client.

Your knowledge as an engineer can also help you place importance on the little things. You know about thousands and thousands of different technologies. Which one of those technologies would make the biggest impact on your client? They could be curious about NFTs, the VR world, inventory management, fleet management…the list goes on of various technologies that would change your client’s world if you shared your knowledge with them. Let’s take, for example, product release dates. You have these launch dates memorized, but your client doesn’t. They mention that they want to purchase an iPad, and you inform them that they should hold off until October when Apple releases the newest version of the iPad. The cost of older generations will go down, and your client will be able to save some money on a new iPad. This little piece of advice means the world to them, and by proving that you are listening and you want to help them out for the better, it will take your relationship to the next level.

You also don’t want to make assumptions. Perhaps your client is someone who wants the newest, greatest product out there. They’re not going to want to be advised to wait until October to buy an older generation after it’s discounted; they’re going to want to be told to wait until October when the newest iPad is launched, so that they can have the most current product in their hands.

Try thinking of things in your own life. Someone cleans your entire home - except the kitchen. When you come home, the huge mess in the kitchen is the first thing you see, and it immediately upsets you. The same can be said for your clients. There are things that they care about - that may be little to you - that, if not done, will upset them no matter what other work you complete. This is why it’s important to get to know your client and learn what these little things are. It may even be something as simple as vacuuming when you’ve finished your work.

Something may happen that causes you to drop the ball on a client’s project. If you have a strong relationship with your client already built, then they’re more likely to forgive the mistake - in other words, take a chip out of the bag. On the contrary, if you have a client that you know would be incredibly displeased with this mistake, it’s an indicator that you have a relationship that needs some work, and it all starts with the little things.

This is a good time of year to talk about the little things. As we near the end of Q3, businesses are discussing budget planning, year-end projects, and strategic focus. Make sure you have a good relationship with your clients to really close out Q4 strong with the bigger things that you need to be tackling. If you’re short on the little things, then the bigger things are going to be hard.

Replacing your client’s sticky mouse can be a bigger chip in the bag than the 16-hour project. It may not be something you care about, but the little things that your client cares about are the little things that matter.

Topics: IT Account Management Disruptive MSP Technical Account Manager
2 min read

Automated Pentesting and Profit: Part 2

By Adam Walter on Aug 29, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/G_2sh57fqAk

Last week, we discussed pentesting and why it’s important. This week, we are going to dive into how MSPs can utilize automated pentesting to generate higher profit margins.

Pentests have never been so accessible in terms of a price point and turnaround times, making it a valuable tool to add to your security tech stack as an MSP. However, you’re already as busy as it is - despite the revenue that an automated pentest can generate, you just don’t have the time to implement it into your offerings.

This is where a third-party consulting firm comes into the picture. They will advance your security stack to include pentesting, which ultimately attracts businesses who are interested in improving their uptime.

Some MSPs use automated pentesting as a prospecting tool. They’ll reach out to clients and emphasize their ability to do what others can’t in order to ensure that the client’s tech stack is secure. When a business knows that their tech stack is secure, they can end the day without worry of a vulnerability attacking and shutting down their system for a period of time - thus ensuring consistent business uptime.

Value is found not only in this assurance, but also when the results of the pentest show vulnerabilities within the system. Unlike a vulnerability assessment that shows simply the “red flags” of your system, the pentest will demonstrate the risks your business faces if those vulnerabilities are not remediated. Business owners should not only be aware of exploits within their system, but know the risk that comes with them.

Thankfully, risk is something that your client will already understand. They don’t have to understand all of the language that is behind the risk a vulnerability places on the system - they just know that it’s dangerous and is something to take seriously. This is why a pentest offers so much more value to the client than a vulnerability assessment. A vulnerability assessment focuses more on the security of the system - something that your client may not have a good understanding of - whereas the pentest paints a clear picture of the risk a business is facing.

We have reached a point with technology and networks that it’s not the question of “if,” it’s the question of “when.” Hackers are everywhere, and it’s crucial to stay ahead by ensuring that your system is protected. With automated pentests now available, businesses can be aware of any risks their system faces and take care of exploits before they become a critical issue.

Topics: Disruptive MSP Implement New IT Services IT Security
2 min read

Automated Pentesting and Profit: Part 1

By Adam Walter on Aug 22, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd

Vulnerability assessments and penetration testing - more commonly known as pen testing - play a huge role in cyber security, something that is more important than ever. According to a report by Dark Reading, businesses suffered a 50% increase in cyberattack attempts per week in 2021. This huge increase should alert all business owners to ensure their networks are adequately protected.

To more efficiently help business owners do just that, there have been some drastic changes in the world of vulnerability assessments and pen testing. Here are some of those key changes, and why you should care.

To start, let’s talk about the difference between a vulnerability assessment and a pen test. A vulnerability assessment is geared towards fighting issues on the surface level by identifying the vulnerabilities within a system. For example, imagine the vulnerability assessment is trying to go through your front door. It can report back to you that it’s unlocked, as well as all the things that could potentially happen if a vulnerability were to walk in. Sure, it may be good to know that your door is unlocked - but if a vulnerability entered, how does this impact your system?

This is where the pen test enters. A pen test evaluates the security of the system by mimicking a cyberattack; it takes the vulnerability assessment several steps further by showing you what a vulnerability would be able to access if it were to be present. Not only are you made aware of the vulnerabilities that exist, but the pen test demonstrates impact. What would happen if somebody were to actually export this vulnerability? Do they gain access to sensitive data? Could it transition into ransomware? Are other vulnerabilities able to be accessed?

Pen testing requires logic, which means that it often takes multiple weeks to have a completed report. It includes figuring out IP addresses, gaining access, and writing the reports. However, automated pen testing is possible - and it produces the same accurate results as a manual report in a fraction of the time.

Automated pen tests have recently been introduced into the cyber security world and have changed how businesses approach this important task. Automating a pen test is similar to automating a mindset. A pen test makes many decisions and commands and interprets the output. It is essentially a huge logic tree that continues to grow. Because it is automated, programmers are then able to spend more of their time in security research and focus on targeting new vulnerabilities that come out in the export.

The ultimate goal of a pen test is to prepare the information of the export to be easily digested by a business person. It involves cool technology, but it ultimately exists to protect clients and businesses, and must be created to make sense to them. Not only does a pen test help them to understand the vulnerabilities, but it increases the perceived value of exploit remediation.

When you onboard a new client and sign the contract, they count on you for protection. A pen test is a reliable method of ensuring security, ultimately building trust between you and the client.

Topics: vCIO Win New Clients IT Security
2 min read

Rebranding Humanize IT

By Adam Walter on Aug 15, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/9txxCMMaUg4

Humanize IT - The new face of Managed Services Platform

The landscape of your business will continue to shift and change throughout the years. You may find that the vision and mission you started with have morphed into something new. Any successful company knows that its business is constantly evolving. Change is to be expected.

In 2013, Managed Services Platform set out to deliver client success by creating a platform to empower operations through personal connections. Four years later, we partnered with Virtual C with the mission to help young companies navigate the sometimes tumultuous seas of running a business. Yes, there have been changes, but one aspect of our journey has remained consistent - humanizing the IT experience. Humanize IT.

When you meet with a client, your goal is not to burden them with a list of your services. Your goal should be to make a lasting impression. By connecting with clients on a personal level, customers will remember more than the services you provide. They remember you. Humanize IT believes in conversations, not presentations.

Our message and mission are clear in this next phase of metamorphosis. Humanize IT puts an emphasis on the human element, building to strengthen the connections we make in business. As an MSP, knowing the ins and outs of your client's industry is not your job. What is important is that you take the time to understand the goals they strive for and how you help them achieve success. This understanding doesn’t come from a spreadsheet, document or presentation. It comes from taking the time to build personal relationships and aligning your vision with those of your customers. It allows you both to get excited about your industries and sets a clear path for guidance. When your clients see your passion, they know that you’re invested. They understand the value you bring to the table and that your success depends on theirs. You’re not a vendor or a hired hand. You’re a partner.

Humanize IT is pointing the spotlight back at the customer and building relationships that can last decades. In the IT world, we often think of ourselves as fixers, not salespeople or HR representatives. But human connection is vital when setting yourself apart from the competition and leading your team to greater heights. Focus your time and energy on changing the IT industry's narrative. Humanize IT recognizes that all people are different. As a result, all businesses, even those in the same industry, are different. We understand that the pathway to nurturing a professional relationship is not a static plan. Approach and strategy have to shift depending on the customer. Just as you are required to be flexible with your clients, Humanize IT tailors our coaching to help you along the way.

Human - it’s a small word that carries a lot of weight. It’s what we are and connects us to one another. By acknowledging the human element in business, Humanize IT provides the tools and resources to turn technical presentations into meaningful experiences.

To find out more about Humanize IT, please visit humanizeit.biz.

Topics: Humanize Podcast
2 min read

Dimes, Dollars and Profit

By Adam Walter on Aug 8, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/fjYb1uKnNNQ

Dimes, dollars and profit. Put away every dime you make and save it for the future. It’s an idea we’ve all heard and are eager to follow because it usually makes more sense to save every penny. But the truth is that stashing money away will never lead to making a profit. You’ll start making money when you prioritize where to spend your time, making human connections and even where to spend your money.

In the corporate world, it’s not unusual to find oneself doing nothing and still making money. But as MSPs, we don’t have that luxury. We have to keep things moving, provide solutions for our clients and, most importantly, have conversations.

We’ve all found ourselves in those meetings - the kind that can last for hours and take up huge portions of the day. Meetings are important. It allows us to sit down and hammer out all the kinks that may be holding us up and plan for the future. But if these happen too frequently, you’re spending money paying your employees to sit in, they’re losing out on the time where they could be helping your clients and you are losing opportunities for more client engagement. Again, meetings have their place and purpose. However, it is imperative that you prioritize topics of discussion to ensure that you’re spending your time and money wisely.

Sales are important. It’s what keeps your business growing and makes your money. But when you walk into a meeting with a potential client, you’re not just selling your product or services. You’re selling your story, listening to theirs, and aligning them so that you can both be excited about your venture together. Make your client engagement memorable. Get to know them. Take them to dinner at their favorite restaurant for your next quarterly meeting. Host an event where your new and existing clients can get together and have fun! Customers are more likely to do business with you if you have taken the time to engage with them. When they know you understand their mission and are passionate about the value you bring to their success, you can continue cultivating a lasting relationship, even if your competitors have lower prices.

In the tech world, we tend to be service driven. We have a task or goal and work to get the job done. We focus on the operations and forget about the human element that drives people to want to do business with us. Balance operations and the time you take to engage with customers and staff. The personal touch is guaranteed profit. Your staff feels heard and valued and your clients know that you are invested in their mission. Make sure you are someone that you would do business with, someone you want to work for.

Turn your dimes to dollars and start making a profit! Human engagement with both your clients and your staff will drive up your revenue and make your work enjoyable for everyone involved.
yone involved. 

Topics: IT Sales Person MSP Pricing IT Business Development Humanize Podcast
2 min read

Gap analysis for profit

By Adam Walter on Aug 1, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/jSRDaSpEdBw

When reviewing a gap analysis with a client, we often come off as the person on a terrible first date. Instead of conversing with our clients, we sit down and point out all the wrong or missing things. No one wants a date like that, and your clients are no exception.

A poor approach to gap analysis can hurt your business and the relationship you are trying to build with your customers. Of course, you need to do a gap analysis for your clients. It’s part of what helps you understand the goals of their business and how you can help. However, if you can’t align your findings with the needs and values of your client, you’ll find yourself getting nowhere. When approaching your client with your analysis, it’s not your thorough, super detailed report that will catch their attention. It’s understanding your client and the value you bring to the table. When your clients come to the same understanding, you stop becoming a nag with the same repetitive concerns. You become a partner and an asset.

Talk to your clients about their business. Make it a point to understand what aspects of your gap analysis are most valuable to their operation. You may have a lengthy list of items that need to be addressed, but not all of them are things your client will care about. Let them know how your gap analysis helps them run their organization and generate profit. When you take the time and effort to have a conversation with your customers, you start to build trust, which will, in turn, open up more opportunities for you!

There will be gaps that your clients will not understand. This is not a foreign concept to those of us in the IT world. We have language and lingo that a layperson does not use. While this can be a challenge, you should take this as an opportunity to showcase what you have learned about their business and how your gap analysis pertains to their success. Educate them as to why your services are needed. Prioritize the things that are most important to them. This is not you being a salesperson. It allows for a customer-led strategy! Your customers have the chance to do the work for you by prioritizing what risks need the most attention. Then let them know what future steps you can take to improve things in the future. It’s a win-win scenario!

Remember, you do not know every gap in your customer’s portfolio. When a client seeks your services, you are often given a small window of insight that usually only pertains to IT. Make an effort to build rapport. It will help you prioritize the gaps that need the most attention, and your client will start to trust you to make decisions. Again, this allows you more opportunities to expand your services and build a business relationship that can last decades.

Gap analysis doesn’t have to be boring and repetitive. Use it as a tool to strengthen your business relationships and turn them into a profit!

Topics: Demand Generation for IT Companies Technical Account Manager IT Security
2 min read

Right Person, Right Seat

By Adam Walter on Jul 25, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/wJKWn98LKWs

So, you’ve started a company. Great! Now the hard part; finding people to run it. Many companies look at their employees as nothing more than bodies in a seat. Once a seat is empty, they’ll look for anyone to replace it. But running a company is more than just ensuring that seats are filled. Your company’s mission statement and culture not only tell your story, it tells your employees who you are, what you value and how they are a part of your vision. It’s important that you hire people who possess more than just the skills or education needed to do their job. Find people who care!

Establishing the culture of your company is crucial in hiring the right people. Many individuals may have all the qualifications to fill a needed position. But if they’re not a good fit for your company culture, hiring them will only hurt them and your company. When you talk to potential new hires, make sure you make your company culture clear. How do you operate? What do you value? How do your employees and executives interact and communicate? Pay attention to a candidate’s approach and demeanor. They're not the right fit if they don’t align with your company culture.

Your mission statement needs to be clear and unique. Find your “it.” How does your “it” make you the best at what you do? Mediocre and generic mission statements make for mediocre and generic passion from your staff. Live that mission statement every day with enthusiasm. Attitude is like a wildfire. It spreads to everyone, including new employees. When your staff talks to their peers about your “it,” they attract people who clearly understand the kind of company you are and how they can fit in. You’re attracting new candidates who share your values.

As your company grows, your staff may have to adjust. The roles and responsibilities that once marked their performance will shift. It is essential to talk to your team about the changes. This may lead to some uncomfortable conversations, and some people may choose to leave. It may cause you to be short staffed for a while. However, the last thing you want is to fall into the proverbial, shoving a square peg in a round hole. Allow your employees to excel in work that they enjoy. Forcing them into a position they don’t want will only cause for an unhappy work environment. Your staff will lose their passion and leave you to pick up the pieces.

Major corporations will always be a threat to your small business. Right now, everyone is feeling the strain of employee shortages. Make no mistake; those corporations will be happy to poach your staff. They’ll offer more money and benefits that you may not be able to match. But you still have an ace up your sleeve - you’re a small business. When an employee is offered a position from these big companies, take this as an opportunity to talk to them about your unique benefits. Small companies don’t treat staff like an unrecognizable cogs in a big machine. They value their employees. Often, you know them as a person. You know their families, what makes them laugh, what makes them tick. No big corporation can compete with that! People are more apt to stay in a company they love, not the one that pays the most.

Right seat, right person - it’s more than placing a warm body to fill a position. It’s finding people who share your vision and are excited about the role they play in your success. Your team is ready! The roster is yours to create.

Topics: IT Management CIO
2 min read

How to Get Out of Firefighting Mode

By Adam Walter on Jul 18, 2022

Apple Podcasts: https://apple.co/2NHRRDl
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/3AyHCUd
Youtube: https://youtu.be/bSQaRC-aT0s

“The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”

We’ve all heard that ironic story of how a cobbler was so busy making shoes for other people that they forgot to make shoes for their own children. Sadly, the same can be said for those of us in the tech industry. We are so busy putting out fires for our clients that we forget to look around and notice that our business is in flames.

Sometimes it can feel like your entire day is spent putting out fires. You hop from one spot to another, fixing bugs that seem to arise minute to minute. Of course, you want to ensure that all problems are addressed. But constant firefighting can negatively impact your work quality and the work-life balance of you and your staff.

There are a couple of things that you can do to get out of firefighting mode. The first may come off as a bit of a shock or an unpopular opinion; drop a ball. As a business owner, it is your natural instinct to want to be all things for all people. Unfortunately, in doing so, you often end up pleasing no one. When you find yourself juggling too many tasks at once, it may be time to re-evaluate which one of the balls you can stand to drop. Take a look at your ROI. Do a risk analysis on yourself! How much will you lose if you continue to produce substandard work because you are busy fixing everyday problems? How much will you lose if you drop a particularly needy client to focus on others? Be open with your clients. Tell them there may be jobs put on hold or delayed, and explain why. Explain how fixing one big problem and holding off on small ones will benefit them in the long run. Clients are far more likely to be understanding when they are forewarned.

If you want to get out of firefighting mode and get into focusing on projects, this requires foresight and planning. Learn to fix problems before they arise. Evaluate what issues come up most often and why. Talk to your staff and executives. Discover which conflicts they frequently encounter and how it affects your overall business. Make it fun! Sit down at a table with a box of donuts and sodas and present them with hypothetical scenarios and problems. How would they solve them? What can they do to ensure that problems don’t happen again? Pay attention and share pertinent information with your clients. It may open up more opportunities to expand your services and pull in additional revenue.

Time management seems like a no-brainer when it comes to avoiding firefighting mode. However, we often plan our tasks down to the last minute. Make sure you allow yourself some extra time for… nothing. Problems are sure to arise, problems that will push back on pressing matters at hand. When you allot for some “nothing time,” you’ve given yourself a window to fix all the little issues that have arisen during the week without impacting more significant projects.

Firefighting all those little issues can be exhausting. Don’t let yourself get inundated with tiny flames and lose sight of the bigger picture. Prioritize, plan ahead and give yourself the gift of time. Those little fires can be snuffed out before they become an inferno!

Topics: Humanize Podcast
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