At Practical Software Solutions, our customers are a bunch of apples and oranges. And I mean that in the most polite way possible that you can call your customers fruit.
Of course, I’m talking about the different types of customers we have. Because we have manufacturers and distributors, construction and real estate companies, and growers of all sizes and shapes, some may say that our customers have nothing in common.
The differences between our customers are most prevalent during this time of year mainly because of the different industry-specific conferences that will take place. Our construction and real estate customers have the option of going to the TUG National Users Conference in May. And our growers have several conferences coming up, such as Cultivate’16 in July and the FarWest Show in August.
Ironically, this is also the time of year when the similarities between all of our customers shine through. We have Sage Summit to thank for that.
Our customers are more than their industry
As soon as Sage Summit registration begins each year, I find myself telling new customers what they can expect at the conference. One of the biggest selling points I mention is the fact that you get to talk to business people outside of your industry.
I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes you can find answers you’re looking for by looking at it from a different perspective. We’ve all experienced something like that. You open up about a problem to your spouse, your best friend, your dad — someone who has no connection to the issue. And somehow, some way, they come up with an idea you never thought of because they’re able to look at the problem from a fresh perspective.
When it comes down to it, I can take any of our customers and find common ground between them. Some of these may seem over-the-top obvious, but they’re all true:
They all work for a company. Whether our customers own a company or work for a company, all companies have the same basic issues. They have profit and loss. They are affected by fuel prices. They all have to monitor taxes, whether they pay them or they’re exempt.
They are all people. We’re all people. No, really. If you’re reading this, you are a person. That means you have wants and needs, emotions, and all the awesome things that come with being human. It also means you can connect with any other person, no matter what backgrounds separate you. A polite greeting with a perfect stranger can turn into conversation, which can turn into talking business. Sharing photos of children can lead to a discussion of how to manage a work/family life.
They all use a Sage product. All of our customers who attend Sage Summit are IT people or power users, the people who spend most of their business day using their Sage system. That means whether you’re an IT person at a commercial builder or an IT person at a wire rack manufacturer, you have shared experiences, even if they’re not on a 1:1 ratio.
Laws are changing for everyone. Whether it’s the ACA or immigration, companies around the country are dealing with new ways of staying compliant. That means a greenhouse grower and the owner of a construction company can discuss ways they’re dealing with I-9 forms or counting Full-Time Equivalent employees.
General sessions cross industries for customers
Sage has done a much better job of not segregating industries at Sage Summit as they have in the past. Aside from the Sage Conversation and the Featured Conversation speakers, there are a good number of sessions that translate across any number of industries. Here are a few examples:
- The changing workforce and you: HR-7460, Tuesday, July 26 from 2 to 3 p.m., Wednesday, July 27 from 11 a.m. to noon. This session discusses the challenges and opportunities from a workforce that is dispersed, tech savvy, multicultural and multi-generational.
- The virtual workforce: GN-8940, Tuesday, July 26 from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. This session discusses how businesses are leveraging and managing virtual workforces to enable scale, achieve work-life balance and grow.
- Top ten free technologies for businesses that you need to know: GN-8942, Wednesday, July 27 from 11 a.m. to noon. The title is pretty self-explanatory: Free stuff!
- Top ten stupid mistakes by a business owner: GN-8944, Wednesday, July 27 from 2 to 3 p.m. C’mon, business owners never make mistakes! And for more amusing anecdotes like that, this session will have the audience face-palming more than once.
- Building awesome teams: GN-8933, Thursday, July 28 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Learn the secrets to building and retaining teams that will fuel the growth and future success of your business.
In all of these sessions, you may be sitting with people from businesses that seem like they have noting to do with yours. Until the conversation starts. And the knowing nods from people around the room begin. And someone asks a question, which prompts another person to talk to them after the session. And you find out that the construction company has more in common with your manufacturing company than you ever thought possible.
Don’t forget! Sage Summit Early Bird registration ends on April 30 — this Saturday! Make sure you register before then if you want the big discounts!
P.S. Did I mention the food?