When it comes to MSPs marketing IT services, building rapport with decision makers is a major key to growing your business. Establishing relationships with business insiders is helpful, but ultimately you need to attract the attention of managers whether they are tech savvy or not. Many MSPs are lost in the dark — waiting for referrals to come in or approaching managers with too much tech jargon, but here’s a better approach to developing B2B relationships.
Establish Common Ground
Your first managed services sales meeting with a manager about IT services should begin with reaching a common ground with them, even if it’s not about marketing technology. In other words, find out what interests you share in common and discuss it briefly, whether it’s about sports, music or whatever. Personal history such as hometown and schools attended can be excellent ice-breakers.
Try not to spend too much time on personal stories, which can become annoying to some managers who want to get to the point quickly. Then ask a series of questions about technology to find out what the manager’s actual needs are, as opposed to what you want to sell. That’s an essential component to building rapport.
Focus on Your Goal
While you do not want to come off as pushy about products and services, you should still have a clear goal in mind. The real goal is to find out what are the interests of the decision maker, which will allow you to evaluate how warm the lead is. If the manager has no interest in your services, you should limit your time so that it can be spent more productively on more qualified leads.
Another reason to meet with a prospect face-to-face is to plant seeds for future conversations. Even if it’s a low-scoring lead, you may still want to nurture it later in time, since business situations are constantly changing. Ideally, you want your prospect to feel important and that they are not wasting their time talking with you.
Rapport building certainly crosses over into personal interests, but it’s best to avoid random questioning that doesn’t give you the answers you need. Sometimes irrelevant questions to your work will use up your time in ways that can be not only unproductive, but boring as well. So always remember that you want every moment to count and you never want to be caught dosing off during a conversation. In other words, be aware of the clock and the quality of the interaction, along with your goal of a win-win relationship.
Getting to the Point
Once you’ve established common ground while keeping your goal in mind, cut to the chase with important questions such as the following:
* Are you happy with your existing technology?
* How old is your hardware and software?
* Do you encounter many technical issues?
* Are you satisfied with your current IT support?
* What are some of the technological improvements you need?
* Would you like to know about innovative solutions?
* Does your budget allow for expansion or experimentation?
* How secure is your network?
* Is your current solution flexible and scale-able for growth?
* Would you like to enhance your efficiency and productivity?
Those are just some questions you might consider, as there are plenty more that might be appropriate, depending on whom you speak with. The responses will determine which direction the conversation goes, whether it’s toward a warm or cold lead.
Treat All Prospects Professionally
No matter whom you talk with, remember to avoid confrontational topics. Do not, for example, slip into a debate about politics unless the other party brings it up. If you agree it can help build common ground, but if you don’t, learn to agree to disagree and move on quickly. The same is true about opinions on entertainers, football teams or technology that you feel passionate about. Don’t try to stage a Windows/Mac argument.
Keep the conversation flowing by always knowing what to say next, regardless of which way the discussion turns. It helps to think like a computer, except with positive emotion. Computer programs are based on “if/then” principles, such as: if the prospect seems interested, then offer more data … but if the prospect seems disinterested, then move on to the next topic. Engineer the communication toward a happy climax.
Again, if the meeting does not lead to a sale, do not take it personally or show frustration. Instead, be glad that you learned about the prospect’s priorities, which is valuable information on many levels. It may help you prioritize your prospects in the future by learning about how certain sectors of an industry operate.
Not all sales happen on the first meeting, as sometimes it takes a while at building rapport, trust and loyalty to close a deal. The most important thing to remember is that communication is a two-way street, so be an active listener.
About the Author
Brent Whitfield is CEO of DCG Technical Solutions, Inc. providing IT Support in the Los Angeles area since 1993. He started DCG as a results-oriented IT services company for small businesses in Los Angeles since 1990, and built it into a company that was recognized among the Top IT Consulting 10 Fastest Growing MSPs in North America by MSP mentor. Brent’s Los Angeles IT support company has been featured in Fast Company, CNBC, Network Computing, Reuters, and Yahoo Business.
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