At the 2015 IP Expo in Manchester, The Sales Way caught up with Matt Ellis who is Managing Director of the IG Group, a specialist consultancy that works with organisations on complex IT projects and transformations.
We had an interesting discussion about the Expo and the future of selling in the enterprise tech industry.
Read on to hear Matt’s take on the UK technology industry.
What is The IG Group talking to customers about at the IP Expo today?
We’re here to give people free advice today. That advice might be helping with knowledge gaps or time constraints within organisations – when you’re working in an enterprise, you’re stuck within the day to day demands and activities of the business, so it’s difficult to step outside of that and make pragmatic decisions about strategy. That’s how we work with customers; we will sometimes come in within an overlay capacity to help people make those strategic decisions and put those plans into place.
Why is an event like IP Expo in Manchester so important to companies thinking of exhibiting here in the future?
The benefits of being at an event like this are twofold, you get to speak to potential customers, but even in the age of the internet it still is relevant to be seen in the market place.
It’s also important to talk to people within the industry – our service offering relies on us having strong relationships with all the companies that are exhibiting and our teams keeping up to date. It’s like a one-stop-shop for my consultants working here today to forge relationships and garner information from other stands to pass back onto our other clients. Outside of finding new customers, it’s a chance for the consultants to scrub up on their knowledge and see how the market’s moving. We get to see who the new players are and what they are talking about.
Do you work with end customers or with technology suppliers?
We work with end customers – typically 1000 users upwards who are UK centric, yet also internationally distributed organisations. We help them to make strategic choices about the applications and infrastructure they are going to deploy – but we are completely absolved of any commercial bias or affiliation to suppliers.
How do you engage with customers?
We almost act as trouble-shooters going into an organisation and helping them to put a taskforce in place to deliver a project quickly to meet a client’s timescales. That’s where we differ from a product vendor who is looking to stay working with a client over the long term; it’s in the best interests of our clients if we can deliver the project quickly for them.
What type of sales and marketing messaging have you seen working particularly well with clients today at IP Expo?
Talking more broadly about the show, the whole Manchester slant on the show is hugely important. This IP Expo has been served in London for the past ten years, but it’s surprising how many people still feel it’s not accessible enough from the North of England. So that’s why we want to create a footprint up here and make it accessible as there’s so much going on in the region.
What would you recommend to vendors coming here today about how they can make the most of an event like IP EXPO?
You have to be proactive, and in terms of messaging, you can’t leave the stand to speak for itself. Be as proactive on the day with people, and try and have as many open conversations as you can. It’s important to be ready to have those conversations with customers whilst being social and interacting with delegates and also other exhibitors.
How has social media affected the promotion of an event like this?
It’s the age of the internet, so everything is uber accessible. We’ve been tweeting about the event and using LinkedIn to promote it as well. Social media has meant that it’s not just my connections that see what we post, it’s the connections of my connections that are seeing posts – so it’s staggering to find out the number of people who are seeing your social media posts across these platforms.
How do your sales teams engage with clients?
It’s our consultants who engage with customers. The old 1960’s methodology of selling is dying and tech companies are now coming to terms with the ‘death of the salesman’. We don’t have people within the IG Group who are just responsible for selling, because more often than not it’s the technical consultant who is the reason a customer has purchased. We do have marketing and internal sales, yet that activity is more focused on social and content activities rather than hundreds of cold calls a day. So things have definitely changed.
Buyers’ access to information has changed too; they are more savvy when they come into a purchasing interaction so you often don’t need that intermediary selling role.
How do you think sales engagement within the technology industry will change?
It’s happening organically. Vendors should be putting product experts on the frontline; through technical product marketing and presales consultants. We think Account Managers will start moving into purely logistics focused roles; managing orders, operations and delivery.
How do you differentiate yourself in such a blurred and converged market?
There are many infrastructure and cloud companies who are moving more into the consultancy arena, which is where we play. At a binary level, we sell brains. The worst phrase we want to hear is a “no-brainer” because that means the project doesn’t need extra consultancy support. A few years ago, the market was talking about how cloud services would simplify IT for organisations which would mean there would be no need for technical consultancy partners like the IG Group, but in reality, the market has become more confused and chaotic – there are so many services that clients still need support to integrate these different services. That’s where we can help.
And finally, if people are going to go away and remember one thing about IG Group today, what do you want that to be?
We facilitate people making decisions. If they have complex technology questions that they want to answer, then the IG Group can help them to do that.