IT marketing is an uphill battle. First and foremost, the sales process tends to take longer with IT because of the high figures that will be continuously paid, ideally over long periods of time. Secondly, technological transition predicates a doubling of computational potential every 12 to 24 months. This means your responsibility isn’t just to meet a customer’s current needs, but to help them cost-effectively transition to the new tech when the time comes. This can be expensive and a hard sell.
However, there is a way to properly buffer up-sell techniques and initial acquisition; and this process is commonly called the “back-channel” sale. Basically, it involves using the expertise of others to help convince the client to use your products or services.
There are many scenarios where you encounter a client who truly stands to benefit from what you provide. But for whatever reason, this prospective client refuses. Usually, it’s because you are the salesman, and so it is perceived by this individual that whatever you do, whatever you say, and however you say it, it’s all just gloss designed to convince them to sign their name on your contract. If this is what’s keeping a sale from total conversion, it’s time to adopt back-channel strategies. These can include:
- Acquiring Additional Support From Non-Sales Personnel
- Following Up On Prospects After A Long Silence – Use Your CEO!
- Finding Ways To Address Issues Through Back Channels
Acquiring Additional Support From Non-Sales Personnel
IT marketing back-channel strategy is basically using individuals beyond sales to convince a client who is suspicious of salespeople. You can get creative here: managers, CEOs, and support departments can be an excellent help. If your client has nothing to disagree with you on, but still won’t convert, maybe bring your manager over and have them help steer the client toward the sale. If that won’t do, perhaps conference in customer service; a department with no stake in a commission or anything of the kind. If you can get a CEO to email or contact the client, that’s great. This is the primacy of back-channel selling, and further points will simply go into specifics.
You don’t have to use company personnel, either. You can use online reviews, articles, and endorsements from a third party – these can be especially useful with some clients.
Following Up On Prospects After a Long Silence
Say you were regularly communicating with a client trying to close a sale over a period of weeks, and then they gradually quit returning your calls until several months have gone by with no contact. You’ve checked their website and contacted secretarial staff, so you know they have yet to acquire the kind of tech solution your company offers. What do you do? Give that client’s contact information to your CEO, and have them write the client a well-worded email. You might even write the email yourself, send it to the CEO for approval, and simply have that individual stamp their name on the bottom. Sometimes CEOs are a bit busy for this kind of thing, so you’ll have to be creative. When the client gets an email with that kind of authority, it should increase the likelihood they’ll change their mind and close the deal.
Find Ways To Address Objections Through Back Channels
Say your prospective client has refused to close with you because there’s some missing feature. Say this missing feature is a common issue with your company, and a resolution is already in the works. Now finally, say other companies have the same or similar issues. The client is just sitting on their hands. Maybe you inform one of your customer service departments about the issue and have them email the prospective client about your MSP’s plans to rectify the problem. This can put the issue in a new light for the client and may bag you the sale.
IT marketing is difficult, but its scope makes creativity more tangible than some other selling opportunities. So get creative. Use back channels. Meet client needs. In short, make the sale.