Thursday, September 21, 2006

MSS: The Best Deal In Training Today (no longer available)

Introducing the new Microsoft Solution Selling.

So my good friends at Microsoft built a huge, successful sales system for Gold Certified partners looking for enterprise customers.

Which is cool.

Then, after they proved that the system worked, they retooled the whole operation for the SMB space.

While not 100% on target, this new system is a butt-kicking 95%. What more can you ask for?

The longer description is here:

The summary is thus:

- Two days of in-class training
- Three one-hour Live Meetings designed to apply the MSS techniques to specific offerings (e.g., Vista, office, sbs).
- Meetings with your PAM re: MSS
(KP note: Since most people in our space don't have a PAM, this doesn't apply to them. With luck, you'll have a community PAM such as our excellent Suzanne Lavine in NorCal.)
- Two additional meetings with instructor for tune-ups and check-ins.

For $99 !!!

OK, so who wouldn't drop a hundred on that? I'm sure once they've proven the concept and rolled this thing out more broadly it will be more expensive, but still a pretty good deal.


Day one was awesome. Boooooty-kickin. I had some points of discomfort which basically amounted to "Things I know I need to do, but I'm just not doing for some reason, so I want to be left alone. Get off my back."

Day One was also filled with the "system" called MSS.

Everyone says they hate role playing. But let me tell you, a few people really love it.

This system - any system (Robin Robins, Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar) requires you to create a flow sheet to take you through a sales cycle. You need to practice this a lot to become "natural" at it. So role-playing gives you a kick-start on that.

The class includes a 164-page spiral bound handout. A bit repetitive, but I'm getting over that.

The funny thing for me is that there was no "interview form" you can take into a client and walk through the process. I'll have one soon. :-)

Day two was also very good, but got into a few things my company avoids like the plague, including:
1) Bidding on an RFP at the last minute when the prospect is really just gathering additional quotes so they can say they did due diligence and then give the job to their preferred vendor. I'm sure this happens in businesses with 4,000 desktops. In my space, we just walk away.

2) Giving things away in order to make the sale. My initials are not CDW. I don't bargain on price. Walmart and Best Buy are always going to sell for less.

Having said that, Day Two gave me an awesome strategy for dealing with gives and gets. Here's a peek under the sheets:

1) NEVER give until you get. No, really. Tell the client "Hey, put some something on the table." If they don't offer, you suggest.
Can you sign a two-year deal?
Can you agree to give me referrals to your top ten clients?
Would it be possible for you to buy the training as well?

2) Once they give, then you give.
If that's possible, I can throw in a shiny number two pencil. Be careful. It's sharp.
If you can do that, we can agree to do quarterly trainings that cost us almost nothing and introduce you to new products.
If you can agree to the training, then we can add an additional _x_ hours of support at no additional cost.

3) Signing today (right now) is not a "get." The deal's the deal. If you're at the point where you expect a deal, signing it is not something to be rewarded.

Day two gave me the awesome list of what the buyer is doing to mess with your mind. This is NOT generally the SMB buyer. But when I get in front of a sophisticated, TRAINED buyer, I feel confident I'll kick his butt.

Bottom Line:
Microsoft is using us and others in NorCal as Guinea pigs. They're measuring us very carfully. Sales funnels, urine samples, etc.

When they're done with NorCal MS is going to retool the MSS project for broader distribution.

Heads up.

When this comes to your town, DO IT. Got a good excuse? Tough. Do it anyway.

Our usergroup had NINE people registered out of a class of 20. Just missed a quorum.

It's not perfect, but we have a ton of work to do between now and November.

When this comes to your town, just do it.

Even if they don't continue the ongoing evals, just do it.

Reality check:

If the MSS program is not coming to your town, but some other great, well respected sales system is: do that!

Sales training is great because it gives you one more push. So, you know what you should be doing. Good. But most of us know what we should be doing and we just don't get around to doing it. If this training doesn't motivate you, perhaps the next will. Sometimes we need to hear the same message several times until it clicks.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What's in a Name?

What's the name of your business?

Microsoft is testing a new sales training program on Microsoft Solution Selling and I attended the first two days yesterday and today. The class is very good.

But I'm not writing about that. Stay tuned.

An interesting thing happened at the beginning of the class. The instructor asked everyone to give their names, their companies, and what they wanted out of the class. He tried to write these on the board.

But SMB Consulting is filled with unintelligable names. The room was not very large, but the instructor had to keep asking for clarifications and spellings. Is it tech or tek? -best or -vest? -bit or -bits or -bytz?

Out of twenty names on the board, three were clear and easy to understand the first time. Luckily for me, KP Enterprises was one of them.

Another classmate and I noted what a spectacle this was. The room was full of people who couldn't easily communicate their company name -- to someone who works with technologists all the time.

Now it's possible that Northern California has just way too many unintelligable company names. But I doubt we're that far off the norm.

So what's with computer consulting names? If we want to be professionals, we need to be aware of the kinds of companies that have respect among our clients. Perhaps not as formal as lawfirms. But certainly not so playful as to be childish.

Can you imagine lawyers with names like Legal Dudes? Or accountants named Moolah Wizards?

Way too many consultants have names that are made from a random selection of two or three of the following:

chron / kron
commu / commo
log / logy / logic
sys / sis
Tech / tek
-tech as in normalword-tech: (e.g., tabletech, fireTech, WindTech)

Plus we see a lot of cutesy or smart-ass names, such as Guys, geeks, and gurus. Can you imagine going to Dental Gurus?

If you're just forming a business, or reformulating your business, try to pick a name that sounds business-like. Ideally, your business name should state what you do. Computers, mobile, networks, and business consulting are fine. Partner names are great (e.g., Johnson and Andrews), as are local landmarks (tower, lake, Sierra, valley, etc.).

Here are some more good names:
_____ Associates
_____ and Co.
_____ Professionals
_____ Resources
_____ Technical Resources

If you already have a business name . . .

well, I don't know.

It may be worth doing some very difficult and very honest research. Is your name costing you business? If so, it's costing you money and has to go.

If you resist because your ego gets in the way, then you have to decide how much your ego is worth. One of the guys in my SBS user group has changed his business name three times in the last twenty years. Note that he's still in business after twenty years! He never lost a client because he changed the business name.

I have high hopes that our field will become more professional over time. Perhaps a byproduct of that will be the gradual dissappearance of gurus, geeks, and cyber-goobers.

Just my opinion.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Erick Simpson Has Betrayed Me

As many of you know, I have wandered around a lot this year. On several occasions I have crossed paths with Erick Simpson. Whether we were appearing with Amy Luby or just sharing a cup of coffee, Erick and I have had many, many conversations about managed services. Phone calls, hallway meetings, etc.

I thought I knew everything he had to share on the subject.

As a friend, I assumed that he would tell me everything he knew.

Then I picked up his book.

When I got to page 23 I put it down.

I went and got a pen. Then I picked up the book again and started reading it over from page one. By the time I had made my way back to page 23 I knew that there was a lot about Erick's vision that I had not understood. Like the whole, huge, monster program that goes beyond the simple message "Managed Services good; Break-Fix bad."

After fifty pages I realized that I just missed breakfast.

This book is _packed_ with great information.

LESSON: Don't assume that you understand someone else's vision, model for success, or even standard operating procedures. Ever. Even after 10 conversations, or 20, or 50.

Maybe Erick didn't betray me. Maybe I tricked myself into thinking that we were doing the same thing, or had the same model.

I can't wait to finish the book.

More to come.

Your take-away: Go buy The Guide to a Successful Managed Services Practice by Erick Simpson.


But wait. Did I write a book on service agreements? Yes. So why am I telling you to go buy Erick's book?

Simple. Your job is to work to improve your business. If you buy two books that specifically address how to be organize your business and be successful in your market space, you will have two perspectives on how to make yourself and your business more successful.

After all, over the next few years you know you'll buy several big, fat books on servers, SQL, Exchange, etc.

It is absolutely worthwhile to spend the price of two little books to focus ON your business.

Just do it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

KPEnterprises and Rack Networks Announce Merger

This post is a bit "off topic" for this blog. But as it is directly related to the running of my business, I figured it's not too far off topic.


KPEnterprises and Rack Networks Announce Merger

September 1, 2006 – For Immediate Release

SACRAMENTO, CA — KPEnterprises Business Consulting, Inc. and Rack Networks, LLC, announced today that they have merged.

Clients of both KPEnterprises and Rack Networks will continue to enjoy the same industry-leading services they have come to expect. The combined entity will operate as KPEnterprises Business Consulting, Inc.

"The merger is great for us and for our clients" said Karl Palachuk, President and founder of KPEnterprises. “Our combined companies can now offer a richer variety of critical services. KPEnterprises has been strong in the areas of automated services and outsourced I.T. Meanwhile, Rack Networks brings a higher level of experience in hosted services and computer forensics.”

“We are very pleased with the opportunities to move forward with a more diversified client base and better tech support tools,” said Nicko Demeter, CEO and founder of Rack Networks. “One of the things you always look for in this business is an interesting challenge. With our combined efforts, we now take on much larger and more challenging projects than either company could do alone.

Palachuk will continue in the roll of President at the new KPEnterprises. Demeter will assume the roll of Director of Operations.

The merger is expected to be completed by the end of September. The terms of the deal were not released.

About KPEnterprises

KPEnterprises is Sacramento’s premier Microsoft Certified Partner, and one of the first Microsoft Certified Small Business Specialists in the world. They provide “outsourced I.T.,” general network design, and cutting-edge technical support in Northern California. For more information, please visit

About Rack Networks

Rack Networks, based in Gold River, CA, provides desktop support and more. They provide hosting services for several businesses in and around the Sacramento Valley. In addition, Rack Networks has an excellent reputation in the area of computer security and forensics. For more information, please visit

Additional Information

In addition to providing excellent technical support, KPEnterprises has been a key member of the technology community in Northern California for more than ten years. KPEnterprises has “partnered” with other technology firms to bring the Sacramento Business Technology Seminar Series to Sacramento on October 25th, 2006. For more information, please visit