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9 Ways Technology Integrators Partner for Skills Breadth & Great Leads

9 Ways Technology Integrators Partner for Skills Breadth Great LeadsMany times, technology integrators seek out partnerships with other IT companies and trusted business advisors to fill a gap in their technical knowledge – in other words, to rapidly and more cost-effectively build out skills breadth.

Other times, integrators build partnerships to share referrals and cross-pollinate their prospect and client lists with great leads.

Ideally, integrators want partners that can take on both roles:

  • Add breadth of services to their outsourced Virtual IT department solutions

  • Provide valuable introductions to potential prospect, customers, clients -- and sometimes even other potential partners

In this article, you’ll learn about nine ways that technology integrators can partner with other firms to expand their breadth of skills and acquire great leads:

  1. Accountants – Any accounting firm with small business clients has the potential to become a very valuable source of future business. However from a skills breadth perspective, CPAs and CAs that are accounting software experts can also help integrators offer more complete and robust solutions to clients.

  2. Apple Mac Consultants – Unless a technology integrator has substantial demand for Mac OS X support, it’s unlikely to cost-justify full-time in-house Mac expertise. Nevertheless, there are plenty of times when generalist integrators are called on to add Mac PowerBook or iMac systems to predominantly Windows-based networks. In those cases, integrators need to partner with Mac consultants. The flip side? Mac consultants may be able to handle basic Windows support in-house, but welcome a partnership arrangement for more advanced networking issues.

  3. CRM Specialists – Generalist technology providers may have basic to intermediate level expertise on the CRM system that their company uses in-house. But what happens when an integrator takes on a new client where it can comfortably support 90% of its technical requirements; however the remaining 10% is a mission critical CRM implementation that the integrator has zero experience with? In a case like this, the integrator should partner with a CRM specialist. Now on the marketing side, does the CRM specialist really want to get involved in network optimization and IT security assessments? Probably not. And filling this more generalist role could be an excellent source of highly-qualified leads.

  4. Microsoft SharePoint Specialists Microsoft SharePoint is a platform with enormous market demand. But for more intermediate- to advanced-level implementations, especially those requiring custom development, most generalist integrators, especially in the SMB segment, simply won’t be able to justify this skill set on their payroll. So integrators should find SharePoint specialists that can consult with their clients as an extension of their teams. And conversely, most SharePoint specialists will be in a position to refer more infrastructure-related projects back to technology integrators.

  5. Legacy Systems Specialists – While the definition of what’s “legacy” and what’s mainstream evolves every few years, as time passes, finding expertise on aging platforms and versions can become more difficult. So while rarely needed, a specialist on a particular legacy system can be a “lifesaver” to a generalist integrator. Conversely, just as with other specialists, the legacy systems expert typically wants to focus on what he or she does best and refer all other work to a trusted partner.

  6. Vertical Market Experts – Health care, hospitality, education, financial services, and manufacturing to name a few – nearly every popular industry has vertical market IT specialists. Even though generalist integrators typically serve clients across a variety of industries, there are definitely times when clients are better served by vertical market experts. Sometimes, a client will suggest a particular vertical market specialist. Other times, it becomes painfully obvious to the integrator that a more specialized consultant is required. And there are plenty of times too, when a client is 100% satisfied with their vertical market expert IT consultant and actively seeks out a more generalist technology integrator who can fill the void for more generalist IT needs.

  7. IT Security Experts – Turn to any major news outlet and it’s rare that a day goes by when there’s not a major IT security incident. As time goes on, the need for continued IT security vigilance grows. While most generalist technology integrators are likely to have at least a few full-time employees with significant IT security skill sets, there will still come a time for very advanced needs when it’s necessary to partner. Along the same lines, an IT security expert specializing in intrusion detection or forensics likely won’t have much interest in configuring notebooks or tablets – or optimizing network performance. That’s where referring leads to a generalist technology integrator makes more sense.

  8. Software Developers – Integrators that primarily serve the small business market generally don’t find a lot of demand for very high-end software development projects. Why? Quite simply: if a small business client has a total IT budget of somewhere between $12,000 and $60,000 per year (or your local currency equivalent), can a major software development project really be undertaken? Sometimes yes; most of the time no. Sure, simple mobile apps or web-based apps may be feasible. But in most cases, small businesses just aren’t big consumers of custom software development. When the need does arise, integrators are almost always better off seeking a highly-experienced partner, rather than recruiting and cultivating that expertise in-house. Conversely, software developers usually don’t have much interest in desktop support and network administration.

  9. System Builders – As mobile computing growth outpaces growth of desktops and notebooks, over time there will likely be less demand for custom system building. That said though, there are still plenty of vertical markets where off-the-shelf desktop systems are not adequate. If you have clients whose IT needs demand highly-customized systems, and this isn’t one of your company’s core competencies, your firm should seek out a competent and complementary system builder to partner with. And on the flip side, system builders will rarely have much more than very rudimentary IT infrastructure skills and need to refer lots of great leads to an integrator for more general IT needs.

So there you have it – nine ways for generalist technology integrators to partner with specialists and deeply-niched experts.


Which kinds of partner relationships has your firm built up over time? How have these relationships helped with skills breadth? Have these relationships materialized into new business? Please share your tips, hints, and experiences in the Comments area below. 


And to follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free copy of the special report on the Top 10 IT Marketing Strategies For Consistently Attracting New Business Clients to Your Small IT Business

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Creative Commons Image Source: flickr Leo Reynolds

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