Editors Note: March 26, 2001

Corporate IT spending is down and your salespeople are telling you that times are tough. What do you say?

Corporate IT spending is down and your salespeople are telling you that times are tough. What do you say?

No matter how you deliver it—and these days a kinder, gentler approach is by far better—the message should be fairly simple: No excuses. Corporate spending has dropped into the single digits (as a percentage of revenue), but its certainly not gone.

Even with all the bad press and tales of doom, spending today really isnt much different than it was in the early part of the last decade, before the so-called New Economy created one of the greatest technology booms since PC networks came along. Its really easy to get comfortable with that kind of order-taking mentality, but no one in their right mind expected it to continue forever.

Were now back to reality, and customers will still pay out big bucks. But they want to know what the return on investment will be if they do plunk down their dwindling budgets. Be prepared to give them real returns, or theyll go somewhere else to spend their dollars.

Prior to the Internet buildup, that was one of the biggest complaints of major corporations. They wanted more than qualitative anecdotes about new technologies. They wanted real proof that if they invested in technology, they would get a competitive edge that could boost sales or cut costs. They even bought into the whole client/server scenario, despite the fact that it was unscalable and next to impossible to manage, largely because the model was cost-effective on paper.

The difference today is that e-business saves money and it works. In fact, there are scores of case studies to prove it. You can find at least one example every week in our Solutions section.

Moreover, e-business savings can be quantified. If a company outsources a business process, you can say what it will cost on a year-over-year basis versus how much it will cost a customer to do it all in-house. You even can match the cost for an extra "9" of uptime (as in 99.99 percent or 99.999 percent).

But youve also got to add one other factor. Youve got to sell your business model to your customers, because they need to believe that youre going to be around in five years to carry out what youre pitching to them. That is why the Big Five consulting firms suddenly are back in vogue, and why many Web integrators are struggling for survival.

Corporations want partners that are going to be around, which means you cant afford to accept excuses about sales being down. That isnt about a short-term economic impact. Its a statement about the viability of your company as a long-term partner.