October 08, 2008, 9:58 PM — Todd Fitzwater, Principal of Demand Solutions Group, saw the handwriting on the wall when he started the company in 2005. Although Demand Solutions describes itself as an "on-demand" business solutions provider, Todd wasn't always a SaaS evangelist, and spent years prior running a successful, but traditional, CRM consultancy. His strategy is now being emulated by VARs wanting to achieve the same level of success.
Todd sees two fundamental shifts in the way VARs are doing business; first, moving away from the traditional on-premises model of selling licenses and hardware; and second, moving away from a purely technical organization to one that understands customers from a business perspective. "The thing that we saw was that most of the service providers at the time were mechanics," said Fitzwater. "They were very good at changing the spark plugs but they couldn't tell you how the overall car worked. What we wanted to do is bring a business solution perspective to the marketplace."
In addition to configuring and integrating the software, the ability to actually talk to the client about their business needs proved to be a valuable skill. The result is a much more holistic perspective, in which the VAR functions not just as a technician and salesperson, but as a trusted advisor that understands the customer's business needs.
Fitzwater advised that a VAR must "jettison every habit and understanding they've got in the on-premises world, in order to get to the on-demand world. We had to completely turn upside down our methodologies and approaches, and the way we went about delivering our services, in order to meet the needs of the customer." He has created a unique model in which, like the software vendors themselves, his company delivers services on a subscription basis.