Will the credit crunch affect us? On the business-to-business side, I think we might see a reduction in new products purchased, but the day-to-day servicing and support will continue as normal.

Opinion: Selling is all about image: your image

On the domestic side, the tightening of belts could actually improve things as consumers consider repairs instead of replacements. So, although turnover might be down, the profits should remain the same and might even increase.

The IT industry has always been competitive, so as belts tighten, every edge you have becomes a major asset and being a member of a trade association is something you cannot afford to be without.

People at home need a choice and deserve to get one so a brand is important when competing against the big names. Consumers recognise brands and associate them with quality and trust them. Let your customers know you aren’t a cowboy, but someone who cares about them and works to a set of standards and procedures.

The indies have many advantages over the big name brands and the biggest perhaps is the customer relationship. An ability for members of the public to pick up the phone and talk to someone they know, a friendly, local, computer expert – not a stranger in a call centre or large store. As consumers depend evermore on their digital equipment, a relationship with someone they can trust becomes ever more important.

Computers are no longer a luxury item and are now as necessary as gas or electricity to the average household. Indies are in a strong position because the consumer would now prefer no TV to no computer or internet.

Digital storage, backups and networks are all important to the home user now thanks to digital photos, music, tv and movies. Our customers are fully aware of the extra value we can add to their lifestyle because they know we can help with the complexity of the integrated and networked environments that now exist in the home.

Moving forward, it’s no longer about selling product, but meeting a need so we have to provide solutions to problems. We need to focus ever more on services even at the point of sale giving advice on how to integrate the new products into the existing home environment.

Vendors and disties can help us here with POS material. Electronic documents aren’t always the best answer because indies need good sized glossy posters which have been professionally printed. What is needed are educational posters which shows the product range in use in the home as the end user might use it.

Computers are generally used by regular people who aren’t geeks so plain simple language and diagrams, which concentrate on function instead of specifications, are the key here. Having a good poster on the wall will not only drives sales, but helps the process along considerably.

A poster of a router with a portable, a desktop, a phone, games console and an HDTV is far more useful than a picture of a pretty looking box with a load of numbers beside it.

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