I had the pleasure of attending Robin Robin’s Marketing Bootcamp in Tennessee this year. There were many great data points for consideration. However, there was one thought in particular, that stood out and helped me put words to a strategy that I have faithfully followed over my 30 years in the business.
The Activity Threshold between Suppliers and Buyers of Services
This concept enforces the idea that at any given time our customers’ commitment can shift if inconsistencies between what they were sold and the actual service experience exist. If the client is continually disappointed, even with the little things throughout the service experience, they will eventually reach their threshold and defect to a competitor or substitute. I believe that this is especially the case when the customer has purchased or the incumbent MSP has sold primarily on price, in contrast to need or value. From our perspective at GMS Live Expert, service excellence is now more than ever – the status quo. There is little margin for error, especially throughout the sales process and after sale interactions through your MSP Help Desk.
Now for the good news. I have found that significant opportunity exists when a prospects commitment has shifted away from their current solution. Our primary objective, at this time more than ever, must be to establish a thorough understanding of the prospects’ true needs and changed expectations. This allows us as service providers a few advantages.
- We can determine early on if our offering is mutually the best fit.
- We can present only relevant features to demonstrate this.
- Following this concept, we must make it okay for the prospect to say no and accept that we cannot be everything to everyone.
Regardless of whether you are prospecting a competitor’s customer or selling to a client who has never outsourced their IT before; I have found great success by always spending the majority of my time asking questions in order to gauge a prospect’s emotional and operationally focused mind set.
Furthermore, I always try to understand how the shortfalls of a competitor or substitute has affected my prospects business, what the entire evaluation experience has taught the prospect and how it has impacted their expectations as a buyer of IT services.
I believe that if our goal is to continually help our clients as fellow business men and women, than we must remain naturally curious as to why they are seeking our help. Doing so ensures we are indeed the best, contextual fit.
In my 30 years of selling and running companies in the IT training and services space this mindset has allowed me a few distinct advantages throughout my sales process:
- Conversations evolve naturally and the door is mutually opened to share ideas and stories.
- Prospects get an early glimpse into the kind of expertise and education my team can provide.
- Trust has started to build allowing for both parties to feel comfortable with moving forward when it and if it makes sense.
- The stage can be set for mutual respect and honesty. All prospects understand early on that we will not always be the cheapest option – but they get a first hand look at the cliché ‘you get what you pay for.’
While this approach needs to be an iterative process at first, once honed it is extremely powerful. For this reason, I propose the following framework to help make this a repeatable approach:
- Establish rapport early by asking questions about their business operations, goals, needs and any relevant experiences.
- For every question they have about your services and features – design multiple benefits and further lines of questioning to bring out their true pain points. Create workflows before hand, if it helps map out your thinking.
To take this a bit further with examples; if they are asking what makes you different everyone should have a high level, precise answer and questions ready to ask about their research and evaluation experience to date.
- Once you fully understand where they are coming from – present features and benefits targeted directly at what matters most to each prospect.
- Teach them something, show them a new way of thinking and why it makes the most sense to their scenario – but don’t give away anything for free, this immediately discounts your expertise.
- Lay out next steps as it makes sense to them and follow up exactly when you agree to. Show that you are dependable.
At this point establish that ‘no’ is an acceptable answer – show that you are looking for a true win/win and are prepared to move on or circle back at a later time if necessary.
Remember, I believe we must sell by understanding and understand by always asking questions; and as long as you are continually doing more and more of what you know you should be doing in your sales process, you are making progress. With patience and persistence you will find your niche fit and the resources to scale and capitalize upon it.