Last night was the finale of the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit. This was a conference I hope to come back to next year. The sessions were great, the location was amazing, and the people/events were top notch. The three days concluded with an Awards Ceremony, which was really just a chance for everyone to get all gussied up and strut their stuff. Immediately afterwards, everyone strolled over to the Piano Bar across the street and got the chance to show off why we are in technology.
That’s the play-by-play of the event, but there was something else consistent here: industry peers who were looking to work together, to create packaged deals and offerings together, basically everyone seemed to be looking for opportunity not to sell, but to create solutions for their customers on many more fronts than their current offerings could satisfy. There were also loads of industry experts willing to share their experiences and expertise to every attendee. In fact, I checked out a session led by Erick Simpson of MSPU covered here: http://searchitchannel.techtarget.com/news/2240217838/Ingram-Micro-Cloud-Summit-2014-MSP-best-practices Erick was willing to share the knowledge he and his company have gained over the past two decades, knowing that the customer base for all who attend would benefit. It was this eagerness to make everything better for all MSP customers that resonated with me.
It reminded me of my days in Management Consulting. One of our senior leaders trained a group of up-and-comers in the Boston office. His 3 part framework was (summarily): “First, you define how much money there is in front of the customer. Then you describe what is in the way of the customer getting to that money. Finally, you prescribe a set of actions that would need to take place for the customer to get that money. Only if you have provided value to the customer and served his interest with integrity, you have earned to right to answer his question of ‘How can your firm help us get there?’ “
A very similar philosophy was described to the audience during a session led by Rafael Sanguily. Raf is the CEO of Tensai Consulting, a leader in the IT Services Marketing and Advertising space. Raf’s session was the last one in the event guide, and I only attended it because an attendee mentioned he was a good presenter. By the third day of a conference, with 4-5 sessions per day, your mind gets pretty numb. But I was sitting up straight and fully engaged in the teachings, having them hit memory chords from my previous training. Rafael’s session talked about the difference in activities between being a sales person and a sales professional. Raf preached knowing your customer’s industry, their strategy, their roadmap, their performance metrics they focus on, their backgrounds and where they had struggled. Basically, Raf was saying “If you don’t know what it’s like to BE your customer, they won’t BE your customer.” At least, that’s how I would phrase it.
Looking back, I can see why people at this conference were so engaging, and why they mentioned Raf’s sessions with such enthusiasm: They had learned to be better servants to their clients, thus increasing their business. And this wasn’t a conference to find new sales, it was really a conference to find ways to better serve their clients’ needs when they returned home. Maybe that’s the way we should look at ALL conferences. It’s the way I will from now on.