Customer retention and acquisition remains top of mind for New Plymouth-based service provider Black Sanz Technologies’ as it maps out a strategy for post-pandemic success in the Kiwi channel.
Speaking to Reseller News, Director Rick Clements shared Black Sanz Technologies’ focus on Taranaki regional and small-business growth through building its cyber security and procurement presence.
Increased interest and awareness of security means equal focus on both customer retention and acquisition is important for business growth.
For Black Sanz, efforts in the medium-term will focus on ‘flattening out the peaks and troughs’ of medium to large customers by broadening its customer base to include more smaller business.
Further priorities surround growing the procurement side of the business, an existing area of strength for Black Sanz, and leveraging systems and connections through distributor and vendor partner agreements to continue building a competitive edge.
With growth comes the need for additional staffing to sustain transitions to delivering on new customer strategies. Black Sanz plans to leverage the benefits of regional living, and the draws of the Taranaki lifestyle, to attract new staff.
“We hope that the attraction of the region should encourage someone from the cities looking for a less stressful environment suitable for families”, Clements said.
Through transitional periods, there may be value in leveraging existing partnerships with other trusted IT resellers to ‘fill in the skills gaps’ and aid in minimising the risk associated with training new staff to match existing skill levels, Clements said.
These partnerships also help to expand service coverage nationwide, he added.
“The skills we have from our technical people will need to align to the new requirements of customers and therefore will likely be different to what we already have”, Clement said.
“Hopefully they will complement each other.”
Customer interests come first
The emphasis on security continues through Black Sanz’s key solution priorities, aiming to ensure customers have a breadth of tools to provide a layered approach to security including a minimum acceptable level of security for all customers.
“Businesses understand the level of ongoing training required to keep up with the latest technologies while maintaining security, and for many it’s just uneconomic to have their own IT staff”, Clements said.
“For those who do have their own IT staff we are augmenting skills gaps or simply throwing extra resources at companies to get critical projects over the line quicker.”
To remain competitive and strive for success in a post-pandemic ecosystem, for Clements the answer may not be what he is seeing many software and hardware vendors attempt to do, getting ‘transactionally closer’ to channel customers.
Remaining local means keeping customer’s best interests close to the table, rather than adopting the mindset that everyone needs every product.
“We believe, as much as some of the offerings will appear attractive to customers with systems designed to remove some of the complexities such as low touch deployment and financing, there will still be a need for local companies they can rely on to disseminate the technologies and make sure they are still aligned to their own business strategies”, he said.
On the state of the market amid hybrid working trends, Clement anticipates an upcoming shift away from spend directed at hardware to a stronger focus on how to be competitive, and further, how to survive in turbulent economic times.
“All of our existing customers already were able to work remotely so for them it was just a case of providing the right equipment for users to work from home safely”, Clement said.
“We found however others were less prepared and we hope that as business owners discuss their experiences it will lead them to ask “was our IT part of the problem” and therefore “do we find a new provider that is more proactive and adding value to us?”
Surviving through tough economic headwinds means Black Sanz’s focus is on offering value to increase their customer’s ability to generate income.
“We strongly believe that due to the recent adversity some will be vulnerable and those that can adapt the quickest will survive. That means we need to be adapting as well," Clement said.
According to Clement, customer business strategies will harness this need for competitive edge, with technology a major part of that focus.
“We believe that just as it is for us, customers will be taking time to reassess what their strategy needs to be and how has the nature of doing business changed," he said. "Is it hype or reality? How does the labour market and the skills shortages change the way our people work, and does that match what our customers want?”
Aligning these desired outcomes will need to be balanced with reduced budgets in the short-term, likely leading to a consolidation of viable businesses, he said.
Despite this shift in spending and partnership focuses, Clements says customer spend will continue strongly, trending towards stronger security focuses at all levels of a business, alongside specific tech solutions.
“There seems to be a stronger focus on document management and business intelligence but also a recognition that security is even more important than it used to be”, Clement said.