IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Developing Your Vertical Flight Plan

Complete Care IT built a sales team and then directed all of its marketing dollars to grow an aviation vertical focus—a strategy that’s taking off. By Patrick Eloi

PUTTING A SALES ENGINE in place has been key to Complete Care IT’s growth and gave wings to an aviation vertical niche that will propel the company to a national presence. That’s the 2020 and beyond flight plan.

Like many IT solution providers, Complete Care IT was a break-fix business before fully transitioning to the managed services model about five years ago. At the time, we were trying to cater to everyone and finding it very challenging to be an expert on all industries. Plus, we were solely driven by client referrals, with no sales engine in place.

In 2016, we participated in a small business makeover through the Miami Herald, which brought in Broward SCORE, a nonprofit that mentors small business owners. After that program identified our need to become more sales focused, we invested in the Mindmatrix platform and ramped up our marketing efforts via LinkedIn and in-person, faithfully adding any and all contact information to the platform. We started getting some hits, but from a wide variety of industries. We weren’t having an impact on any one industry because we were diluting our investments.

Since South Florida is home to a lot of companies in the aviation supply chain, primarily parts and repairs, and we already had two customers in that vertical, we decided to target all our marketing dollars there.

 

We started attending aviation industry trade shows and joined a local aviation-type chamber of commerce. We learned the industry’s pain points, compliancy requirements, and major line of business applications. We were committed to fully making the leap to a vertical focus and hired someone to lead this effort. Then we added an account manager, followed by a couple of salespeople, and that became our sales engine. Within a year we had both the people and tools in place to grow.

To scale effectively, though, we knew we had to become more efficient at service delivery, not just sales and marketing, so we brought in business coach Manuel Palachuk to help improve our processes. Now we can process more tickets with fewer technicians, which has enabled us to reallocate resources to other areas of the business.

Overcoming Challenges

Getting established as a go-to IT provider for the aviation supply chain has been challenging, as the players are ingrained and loyal. One difficulty has been establishing relationships with the line-of-business vendors. Because we want to provide first-call support to our customers, we built our own database of issues and are training ourselves.

To crack that resistance to newcomers, there’s no shortcut. We just keep showing up at industry trade shows and events, and we keep taking good care of customers. We also pursue every opportunity to position Complete Care IT as a thought leader, including speaking, blogging, holding webinars, and hosting lunch and learns. Aviation firms want someone who’s been doing this a while and knows what they’re doing. They also want to know who else you serve in the industry.

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