SECTIONS - Caught in the Crossfire
June 08, 2015

Know Pain, Know Gain

How often in the last decade have we heard the expression no pain, no gain? It has been a popular but horrible expression that probably has lead to several sports injuries. However, the expression has been used for all sorts of situations. Perhaps the most insidious are the ones that associate the expression with risk and reward.

I bring this up based on conversations I have been having with executives who are providing integration services. IoT integration is a tricky mixture of partnership, sales, and service. While many of the partnerships these days are based on the hope that the other team has the customer contact, these partnerships sometime come in haste and often sound good strategically, but initially they were forced by a customer requirement.

Often the companies find that the customer was right to put them together. When the partners come together they usually quickly find the gap to mend. Basking in the success, management then often meets and looks to replicate the success with a press announcement and additional sales leads.

However, often the need is not immediate and the partnership’s success fades, and the party that is the primary contact with the client maintains and minimizes the partnership. Perhaps the new deal happens, but more likely it dies.

The expression no pain, no gain is stood on its head as the lack of pain lowers the odds that new customers are brought to the partnership.

Let’s return to the issue of the initial customer’s pain. Chances are the gap was an essential piece of the puzzle; otherwise, the partnership would not have been essential. For many companies the ability to put out fires (fix the gaps) is their forte. They become the A-team that is called upon by several partners. Yet their direct relationship with the customer is not strategic, but tactical.

Being involved with the tactical team puts out the fire, but does lead to continued work. The A-team then is perpetually on the outside of the inner council. Many of the integrators I was speaking to were in position. Having the skills that filled many gaps, their reputation grows, but the direct channel to customers is elusive. Even if the customer’s upper management allows the A-team to show its case studies, the conversation is one of appreciation, but with the contentment that their primary integrator managed the project effectively. In this case the group that solved the pain does not get any more credit for the gain.

That said, I would like to offer a new version of the expression. That is: Know pain to know gain. Friends who have been the second partner have sometimes found the road to becoming the primary is to work with the customer’s tactical lead to extend the value of the solution.

In some companies, the opportunity for advancement for the tactical person can provide a coattail for the A-team to find a greater role. This is particularly true with companies that are still struggling to understand the value that IoT brings to the market.

Moving from the tactical to the strategic, however, requires careful stewarding and education. Many of the industry leaders are taking advantage of services that help them educate their customers and highlight their successes. The saying is that word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Making sure the right mouths are speaking to the right ears leads to success.

Carl Ford is CEO and community developer of Crossfire Media (

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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