If you're like most IT consultants, you probably focus your technical skills on predictable technologies: Microsoft server and desktop OSs, Microsoft Office software, e-mail platforms, and TCP/IP. Particularly ambitious IT consultants might add VoIP, Cisco, SonicWALL, and other network technologies to their plate, too.
But you may be missing a cash cow if you overlook Intuit products. The company recently reported a 9 percent increase in quarterly revenue vs. the third quarter 2008. With third quarter 2009 revenue of $1.4 billion, someone is buying Intuit products, and many of those people could be your clients.
The demand is there for Intuit products, so don't overlook a potential growth opportunity for your consultancy. From small business QuickBooks financial software and point-of-sale systems to QuickBooks enterprise financial and even Project Management tools, Intuit is performing well in a very difficult economic environment.
I've seen Intuit demand firsthand. Everyone from entrepreneurs (after being laid off and forming their own startups) to established organizations (seeking to leverage financial management and CRM tools) are turning to Intuit to find economies of scale and to boost productivity.
IT consultants have two options for capitalizing on Intuit demand:
- 1. You can align your firm with the company's products and earn certifications in the tracks most useful to your clients.
- 2. You can partner with a certified Intuit ProAdvisor or an agency of certified Intuit professionals. Find certified Intuit professionals and form an alliance.
There are many benefits to both options; each option also has advantages and disadvantages.Option #1
By committing to becoming an Intuit ProAdvisor and earning a certification in one of several disciplines, you can ensure you possess the skills necessary to tackle specific Intuit challenges. Using the company's strong self-paced e-learning portal, known as the Intuit Solution Provider University, you can pass exams for each of the following platforms:
- QuickBooks Enterprise
- WorkTrack TimeCard for Intuit Payroll
- Point of Sale Retail Provider Solution
Once you're certified on the platform most appropriate for your client base, your IT consultancy will be better positioned to meet small business needs. In addition, your IT consultancy can leverage Intuit's sales and marketing tools. Better yet, when responding to client requests to address the typical printing issues, Windows failures, user account problems, or e-mail troubles, any outstanding QuickBooks or Intuit software errors can be addressed during the same service call. Also, since you will have added additional expertise to your skill set, you'll repeatedly find additional billing opportunities. Further, clients will be pleased that you're able to address a wider range of technology issues.Option #2 The second option enables smaller consultancies and those seeking to concentrate their skills within specific ranges to better address clients' Intuit software needs. By aligning with a certified Intuit ProAdvisor or an agency of certified Intuit professionals, your IT consultancy can quickly and easily add Intuit expertise to its list of capabilities. Whether clients require needs assessment, deployment assistance, or maintenance and troubleshooting help, partnering with certified Intuit ProAdvisors helps ensure IT consultancies don't forfeit revenue opportunities.
Although you will have to pay external ProAdvisors to fulfill Intuit needs (either as a subcontractor or via some other contract), your consulting firm can build better relationships with clients, serve as a one-stop technology stop for clients, and still tap into the laundry list of hardware (including site-to-site VPN deployment, new servers, more powerful desktops, etc.) investments and service time typically associated with new installs or upgrades.
Aligning with a ProAdvisor creates opportunities to capture new revenue that would normally be lost, and it helps ensure you do a better job of addressing all of the client's technology needs.
Choose an option
Regardless of the route you choose, select one of these options rather than sticking with the status quo. If you're dismissing clients' Intuit questions and needs, you're missing revenue opportunities. Even worse, you're possibly leaving clients with the sense that you're failing to address all their technology requirements.
Options are available, but it's up to you to capitalize on Intuit products by delivering the corresponding service.Get weekly consulting tips in your inbox TechRepublic's IT Consultant newsletter, delivered each Monday, offers tips on how to attract customers, build your business, and increase your technical skills in order to get the job done. Automatically sign up today!
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.