Case study: Patience is a virtue

The saying goes that patience is a virtue, and as MATTHEW SAINSBURY found out, this way of thinking fits solution selling like a glove - when a customer is being asked to adopt a new vendor as part of a solution, it takes a great deal of perseverance to convince them that it is the right one.

In the current economic climate, selling a solution is neither a quick process, nor is it particularly easy; however, perseverance and backing up with demonstrable ROI savings are still proven sales techniques.

The problem for sales teams is further compounded when the customer has little or no experience with a vendor recommended within the solution, even when that vendor is the optimal solution.

Through a cold calling process, local integrator, Ice Systems, discovered an organisation with a heavy Web presence and a series of pain points around load balancing and single point of failure within its networks, as well as redundancy issues.

One of the largest online retailers in Australia, and with a great deal of its overall revenue being driven through these websites, the client had a lot to lose.

“Ice Systems is vendor neutral, which gives us the ability to really try and understand the business of the client, its requirements and IT strategy,” Ice Systems solutions specialist, Nadine Woodhead, said. “We always try and understand what a client is trying to achieve both now and in the following 18 months to three years when designing a solution.”

The client’s websites were directly linked to the points of failure, so Ice Systems decided that a load balancing Citrix solution, making use of the vendor’s NetScaler product, would solve those paint points, while also offering additional value to the overall business.

“NetScaler is more than just a load balancer – it also offers Web application acceleration, caching, secure access and PCI compliance – the latter was another one of their big issues,” Woodhead said.

“I was mapping out what the customer’s requirements to each of the technologies and building value to each of the technologies. The application firewall that comes with NetScaler can help a customer be PCI compliant which was important because a high percentage of their revenue comes through the websites.”

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Sales cycle

Despite being convinced that the solution was the ideal one for the customer, Ice Systems needed to go through a long and difficult process to sell it.

“It was a particularly hard one, because it wasn’t an incumbent Citrix user,” Woodhead said. “It was a new vendor to the customer’s environment, so making them comfortable with the vendor itself becomes critical – if the customer is used to the vendor solution being offered, then it’s a little easier.”

Resistance to change is nothing new for the integrator though.

“There is always resistance to change and because of the way that we work, every opportunity is completely different,” she said.

“It was the best solution for what they were trying to achieve, though, so we persevered.”

The entire process of selling the solution took about three months, Woodhead said, and required constant contact to build a business case.

“Through those three months, we were constantly on the phone with the customer and there were four major strategic meetings involved,” she said.

Part of the difficulty was the current economic climate, and balancing the IT needs and desires of the customer, Woodhead claimed.

“Talking technology to technology people on the one hand and then delivering to the business – it’s about understanding both sides and being able to sit on the fence for both,” she said. “With the recession, you have to be able to back it up with factual, proven ROI – people have to see why they’re going to spend that money and what they’re going to get back with that money.”

While the ROI for the overall solution is still being mapped out following the implementation, the customer was happy with the end result.

“This has always been what Ice Systems is about,” Woodhead said. “These steps and how we do business is all about understanding and finding the right technologies and delivering solutions back to achieve ROI, while being scaleable and pushing that business forward in a competitive market.”