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Worst Tech-Vendor lines for SMEs: Exposed

By SiliconIndia     
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Bangalore: The influx of sales pitches from IT service and product vendors to Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) could be attributed to the present era of the internet. Vendors now easily target the SMB market, which in another time was too hard to segregate.

This is definitely to your advantage (if you head an SMB), since the constant competition amongst companies making these offers, gives you good pricing, servicing and better value for the products (or services) you intend to invest in. But with all these vendors vying for your attention, the need to differentiate the viable products and potential partners from the other sales pitches is of prime importance.

So how do you know when to dodge a pitch and when to make a catch? Information week made a list of the most commonly used tech-vendor pitches that you could come across. If faced with one or more of these tech-vendor pitches, the report advises you to take them with a “healthy dose of skepticism”:

“This gives you access to the same technology and tools that big businesses use.” This line and its other sibling “This technology levels the playing field for SMBs,” mean the same thing, and make a point—the “leveling” effect is apparent with technology being more and more available. A Fortune 500 company could use the same iPad that is seen abundantly in a small enterprise. But since almost everybody uses this pitch to market their products, it is hard to tell the worthwhile apart. One thing that could help you differentiate between vendors though, is personal contact

“We've taken our world-class enterprise platform and right-sized it for the SMB.” According to the report, tech giants who also have a huge enterprise-oriented drive use this line. But when you hear this line, make sure you ask difficult, important questions, as the pitch points at reduced functionality. Understand what the product (or service) has been stripped of, and why. Another reason that should breed caution would be that of the tech giant assuming the “right” size for an SMB, while selling the same solution to a wide variety of enterprises that could range from fashion design to auto-dealership.

“[Technology X] enables small businesses, professionals, and consumers to…” This tech- sales pitch would sound legit; if that is, you chose to fall into the “prosumer” category which treads middle ground between being a consumer and being a professional in a particular field. What one should realize when dealing with such a pitch is that the requirements of a consumer and a professional might be similar in some regards, but there definitely are differences between the needs of a user at home, and the requirements of a small firm that has say 100 employees.  Security, storage, and backup are just a few areas that would have huge disparities.

“[Buzzword] Is a Major Trend, Don't Get Left Behind.” The major drawback with this approach is that is suggests you follow a trend, without focusing on how it will help your enterprise in terms of returns, or innovation. If you can’t see the value beneath this statement, look somewhere else, warns the report.

“…packaged in an affordable solution.” Since price is always a concern for SMBs, this pitch is sure to perk attention levels. However, the report asks to be cautious especially since the word could mean different things to different people. “Ask for the numbers”, says the report, and pass over the adjectives.

“Pricing starts at just $X.” Although actual prices provide you with a good sense of direction, one flaw that this approach has is that of not including the price for the whole product. Pricing might start at the said figure, but you might not get all the product’s features at that price. An example stated by InformationWeek's report was that of Microsoft’s Office 365 which runs at $6 per user, but only allows view-and-edit Web versions even of the popular Office products such as Word, without the inclusion of cloud-oriented versions that small enterprises might think they bought with six dollars. Instead, full functionality is offered at $24 per tier.

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