Dell CEO Michael Dell

Published: November 7th, 2014

I’ve had a day to percolate a bit on Michael Dell’s opening remarks at Dell World 2014, and I’ve got to say, I’m still impressed. There’s a lot to admire about the way Dell has been bouncing back as a business lately, but what I think we can all learn from is how they’ve been thinking about what their customers want.

And yeah, it’s easier said than done to find out exactly what potential customers want. I don’t expect you to go out and conduct a 1000 person survey tomorrow. This is why you should take advantage of the research that Dell has already done and is sharing with you. Change your sales tactics and start addressing the topics that customers are actually concerned about.

“Dell solutions are helping customers transform their systems, connect their people, connect and gain insights from their data and networks,” said Dell in the opening remarks. That was his lead-in to the highlighted Four Focuses of Dell World 2014:

  1. Transform
  2. Connect
  3. Inform
  4. Protect

Dell understands that the only constant when it comes to technology is change, and that to truly keep up with the world you’ve got to be ready to transform how businesses use their technology. It demands innovation and it requires being “unencumbered by a legacy of old stock,” as Dell said. That’s why Dell talked a lot about embracing new architecture and converging infrastructure for data centers, which is where he envisions a lot of the focus is going to end up in the coming years.

But he also gets that there’s a reason to have technology, and that is to connect and inform.

“Being connected is more than just devices, it’s also the support and the services that go behind this,” said Dell, and then talked about how connections allow data to be shared. “The power of that data needs to be unleashed, turning that data to big outcomes, to big results, to productivity, to better management and growth.”

And finally, everything needs to be protected. “Security is a top concern for every customer that we meet with,” he remarked, and he would know. He mentioned that Dell sees “80 billion [security] events per day, so we know what’s coming and how to deal with it.”

Security in particular is a huge concern for Dell customers, and it’s influenced how they look at everything else they do. Dell’s studies found that most customers are aware of the benefits of big data and mobile technology, but they’re afraid to take the first steps towards leveraging that power. They know there are risks but they don’t know how to address those risks. That’s why Dell is talking about security.

“People play a big role in addressing [security] risks and creating the solutions that keep the environment secure,” said Dell. “We found that when executive leadership was involved in security, confidences were increased… so security must be a business priority, not just a policy.”

You should be adopting this language. You should be changing up your sales tactics to take advantage of this information. Go out there and tell your prospects right up front that you know they can benefit from big data and the cloud, and that you’ve got the right stuff to keep them safe while they do it.

This is one of the biggest tech companies in the world telling you what their customers want, and their customers have the potential of being your customers.

So this is what you should be doing. Why? Because the world is changing for managed service providers (MSPs), and what was working a few years ago to make the big bucks is not working anymore, and it will actually probably hurt you a few more years down the road.

Gone are the days when you could just slap down some standard services, an Exchange server, and a service contract. And gone are the days when you were the only MSP in your area. Now you’re a small fish in a big pond, and every fish in that pond is singing the same old song.

You’ve got to let go of the idea that it’s going to be the same as it was in the golden days and start changing your business to match what customers are looking for.