The mark of a good IT salesperson is being able to identify and then clearly convey how technology can help solve a customer's business problems. In short, proving ROI. You and/or your sales team might be very good at this, or you might be lacking. Either way, you want as much ammo as possible to help you maximize your customer-facing interactions, right?
I was recently made aware of a great Web resource that I think could be another arrow in your quiver. During a lunch meeting a few weeks back with Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, co-founders of the Retail Owners Institute and esteemed retail consultants, the duo drew my attention to their Web site where there are many pages (broken down by 50+ retail niches) of benchmarks and calculators intended for merchants to measure and compare their companies with industry averages. There's data on inventory turnover, profit, gross margin, and so on.
How's this help you? First, assume that your customers -- particularly the small ones -- don't understand this stuff. After all, their niche is probably their passion, not finance and business metrics. For instance, someone might start a restaurant because they like people and cooking, yet they have no clue about table turns, inventory, etc. Take your trusted advisor status up a notch by becoming their go-to resource for running a successful business. Second, you can potentially use the information on this site to help justify IT purchases. Need better control over inventory? Here's the latest POS system that can do X, Y, and Z and help you wrangle your inventory problems.
So, check out the site. Some areas require registration, but the ones I spoke of here are open. Help your customers get smarter about running a healthier business, and then show them how your solutions can help them get there. Having data like this to support your ROI conversation will help you to win more business.