It’s Not What You Say…But How You Say It
We’ve all heard the old adage, but what does it mean for our business today?
I was consulting with an IT service provider who was trying to sell a flat-fee managed service plan to a large manufacturing company. He had completed initial interviews and uncovered a few issues:
- About half of their existing hardware was no longer supported
- The office manager was extremely frustrated with her employer’s ‘band aid’ approach to internal support
- The owner was disengaged with his company’s IT service needs
Here’s how the conversation went…
Partner: “My client is old school, and he just wants the technology to work. No questions asked.”
Me: “That’s great! He sounds like an excellent candidate for a flat-fee plan where you take complete ownership and responsibility, and the hosted workstations you are offering will end his hardware woes forever. What’s your next step?”
Partner: “I’m going to show him several reports generated by my monitoring tool, along with several pages of log entries so he will see the types of issues we will be dealing with.”
Me: “Didn’t he just say he didn’t care about that?”
Partner: “Yes.” [long, awkward pause]
What’s wrong with this scenario?
As tech enthusiasts, we make our living dealing with technology we are extremely passionate about, and we provide a service to people who don’t share that passion. In a sales situation, we typically end up using highly technical jargon to detail everything our technology can provide. However, communicating this way will continually lead to discord and conflict between solution providers and their clients.
A recent MSPmentor survey made this disconnect even clearer: “…too often MSPs are going into client meetings with a fixed view of their service offering and what they want to sell without understanding well enough what the prospective client wants to buy… It is important for MSPs to be able to standardize their services, but flexibility in how they present this and phrase it to match the needs expressed by the client is more likely to be successful.”
There is a better way.
To really make your client relationships work, think of yourself as an interviewee. You are interviewing for the job of a full-time, outsourced Chief Information Officer, so the culture and fit of your prospective employer (the client) is an important deciding factor. Since you have countless offers on the table—i.e. you can always find more customers—you can use a standardized sales discovery process to choose the right clients, and for them to choose you:
- Build a discovery process and stick to it. This comes before any quote or proposal is presented. Aim for a written survey that you can refer back to later.
- Interview the prospective customer. What is their internal process like for handling IT-related issues? How many vendors do they have to manage? When was the last time they had a major crisis, and how did they deal with it?
- Give them an internal grade. Become a hiring manager for your prospects. Are they going to want to do parts of your job? Do they enjoy IT as a hobby? Do they take direction well? Do they see the value of a long-term plan?
On the Business Success team at LabTech Software, we have conversations like these every day, and we don’t win until your prospective customer signs on the dotted line. If the path to more recurring revenue seems rocky, contact us today!