You courted your SMB clients. You wooed them. You got them to sign that SLA, and now you’re married. But how do you keep the love alive?
Happy relationships require both parties to be invested in long-term success. Remember when you met the person of your dreams? How you went out of your way to do nice things for them? Bought them Valentine’s Day gifts even though you personally think Valentine’s Day is silly? Went to the store for them at midnight to pick up snacks they wanted?
That’s what we do at the beginning, but over time we get comfortable and stop making the same effort. Then, one day, someone tells your partner how nice they look in that shirt and brings them a Starbucks made exactly the way they like it. Yes, you take out the garbage and make sure the kids have clean clothes and make them dinner. Of course you do. That’s what you are supposed to be doing. It’s what you signed up for.
Managed services is no different. Of course you keep your customers' networks running—that’s what they pay you to do. But is that enough to keep your managed service customers?
Almost without exception, every sales opportunity we created for clients last month was with a company that was already engaged with another IT service provider or MSP.
Maybe you do all kinds of things for your clients, the things that make their networks bulletproof and keep their businesses running smoothly around the clock. They don’t know exactly what goes into your day, but everything is pretty nice and you’re providing consistent service at the level they have come to expect from you. The truth is they don’t think about you one way or the other.
So when that call from a competitor comes in, your client might spend a little time wondering, “What has my service provider done for me lately?” They might even invite that competitor in to meet with them. If I can force even a thin wedge of doubt into a conversation, I can get our clients in front of your clients.
Invest in client relationships
When was the last time you did something unexpected for a client? Are you meeting with them regularly? Do you proactively send them updates to explain how you’re prepared to protect them from that new malware they’re reading about on the Internet? How often do you call to check in with them? Do you stop by their office with coffee once in a while? Are you providing them with tools that help them understand what goes on with their account on a daily basis? Anything?
If your client doesn’t have an immediate answer when we ask them what they like about the company they’re currently working with, then we know we’ve got a chance to win that opportunity for another service provider.
The things you do to stay on your client’s radar don’t need to be expensive or grand. It might be as simple as a phone call every week to see how things are going and the occasional unexpected box of donuts. It will be worth the effort. Remember, your competition is gunning for your clients—daily.
They are emailing, calling, and stopping by unexpectedly with coffee for the office. We can tell the difference between a happy client and a client riding out their contractual obligation. Clients who know you and like you will put up with mistakes, they will ride out hard times with you, and they will tell a competitor on the phone or in their office to get lost.
Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn.