Many people I talk to (my wife included), don’t find technology products particularly sexy. It's a valid opinion, but they are missing the point. They are beautiful not only in their design but the problems which they solve. From the birth of the Web to the Hyperloop, necessity is the mother of invention.
Where this sentiment fits into business development
When you have a great technology product that your users are evangelical about, it doesn’t need to be "sold".
As Dan raised in his blog, in Business Development we focus on relationship building with our partners. This helps us to best understand their needs.
Simply reeling off a list of product benefits doesn’t cut it.
My background is in technical support. I spent over a decade assisting users and maintaining lasting relationships. This helped me to understand a person, their needs and expectations. Things that are to be fully explored before they become a customer.
Problems with customer satisfaction usually arise from not meeting their expectations. In most cases, their needs were poorly understood from the outset.
So how exactly do you ensure that your solution is exactly what they ordered?
Understanding the story
What customers do with your products is what makes them attractive.
One thing that I found most appealing about working at Loadbalancer.org is that rather than focus on hockey stick growth, they put their energy into building really great appliances and natural growth followed.
We are very fortunate to serve some phenomenal markets. Examples such as healthcare, where an outage could leave patients at risk.
Advancements in healthcare technologies extend our capabilities to provide treatment and minimise delays. The emergence of medical imaging systems such as PACS and DICOM and the drop in digital storage costs has resulted in improved accessibility.
In banking and finance, the availability of a particular application has high stakes. So high that traders have invested in direct fiber optic cabling to financial exchanges to shave milliseconds off. Trading, core banking, account management and payment processor platforms depend on reliable infrastructure. Downtime is not an option.
Our retailers run Point of Sale (POS) and eCommerce environments. If shoppers can’t buy what you have for sale because the system is offline or your website can’t handle the load, they vote with their feet. Event ticket sales websites I am looking at you!
The positive impact rather than the solution is where the value is often overlooked.
On the flip side, the product needs to provide the technical capabilities to match. Our deployments range from simple to intricately complex where we prepare comprehensive deployment guides.
An administrator may have a wishlist of requirements that the load balancer needs to serve. Our job is to convey not only that we tick all the right boxes but that we make it incredibly straightforward to use.
If you told one of our developers how "simple" the box is, they would almost certainly smirk. It is the man hours spent in the development that produces a great user experience.
The next step is the marriage of the technical solution and end user narrative.
Depending on your use case for load balancing, the comparisons could be far-reaching between us and competitor products. From looking at our existing customers, in general they:
Had a specific problem requiring a load balancer
Looked at cost vs risk associated with that problem
Needed a deployment that provided ease of administration and maintenance
We happen to cover all the above counts really well, with a clear understanding of their needs and objectives. underpinned by both technical and emotional intelligence.
Our case studies highlight the breadth of industries and applications that we serve. The ability to showcase our successes builds confidence that our solutions work.
Putting it together
Now that we understand why our customers love our load balancers we can take a holistic, rule of thumb approach to building partner relationships.
An approach also used in troubleshooting where the outcome isn’t always clear.
We look at where our strengths lie and use that approach to find where we fit within the value chain:
Resellers add our services to their portfolio for relevant sectors
Managed service providers offer load balancing as a value added option
Hardware and software vendors and software bake our appliances into their own solutions
Often we are required to think beyond the core of our business. With the right processes, we can approach this with confidence and with an open mind to new opportunities.
The scope of potential opportunities is broad. To my mind, business development is about mutual exchange of value. Putting yourself in the shoes of your partners and exchanging ideas to help you both to grow.