After you’ve figured out their core needs in terms of network, email applications, hardware and budget, you should also ask what existing applications they are using. The great thing about NOWS SBE is that the servers run on Linux, but the customers can have Windows, Linux or Mac desktops. It’s definitely an interoperable solution.
When you’ve got a list of the application dependencies, you can see how many users really need that application. For example, if most of the end-users in a business have a need for an office productivity suite, but don’t need to use Excel, can you help the business owner save on their license costs and move the majority of the knowledge workers over to OpenOffice.org?
You might identify a need that the business owner hasn’t thought about. For example, do they have a sales force? How are they tracking, sharing and logging information about customers? If they are still in the land of spreadsheets, you might want to suggest looking at a solution like SugarCRM that runs on Linux.
If you’ve been asking all the right questions, and actively listening, you now have a pretty detailed picture of your customer’s attitude towards technology, the business dependencies, the existing infrastructure and the budget. You’ve got a few pages of notes, and you’re ready to build a plan. It’s time to hit the drawing board, build a plan, and create a proposal.