Sarah Neudorf December 9, 2021 Agreement
A lot of things they don't even realize until you point out, and how much better it could be, because they don't necessarily have the IT vision. They require essentially you to be their IT visionary. So, in order to turn them, and have more repeat business, and have more steady service revenue, you need to have a steady step-by-step sales process in place. And it starts with having very targeted marketing activities, and lead generation activities. It's not about marketing to everyone. It's about marketing to very, very specific kinds of small businesses in a tight geographic area.
It's a whole idea of why buy the cow, get the milk for free. You know, it's a course kind of creative analogy. But if you've ever known someone who's dating a young lady is dating someone, and the guy just seems to be stringing her along. And I know it's a cliché and everything like that. But it's very similar with your clients, if they're used to only calling you when they feel like calling you, and you really have no proactive project plan, or IT strategy in place for what you're doing with them from month to month, quarter to quarter and year to year. You kind of have a dysfunctional relationship, and really I hate to say it. But it's kind of your fault, because you shouldn't have allowed the relationship to just be based on break fixed work, and just kind of being the firefighters, and just taking care of emergencies.
But the reality is your idea is to figure out how to give them good value based on what they can actually afford on a small business budget without the need to have a big in house IT department. That your job is figuring out how to creatively do that, and being the IT visionary for all of this, and usually the best way to start off the relationship is rather than having a sales cycle that drags on for months and months, or even longer because you're focusing on selling this huge project. Which they're going to want to get tons of quotes, and tons of opinions, and everything focused on selling a small initial proving ground project.
Well, there's almost always going to be some kind of follow-up remediation work, a system upgrade a network roll out that kind of thing. And then the course of providing those kinds of services with that follow-up project. The natural thing to bring up and, you know, have you given much thought to how you would like support handled on an ongoing basis with the system. Once we've upgraded it, and say, Gee, you know, I really haven't given much like, what do you recommend?. And that's when you bring out more case studies, and more testimonial letters from clients. Not just that you did successful program projects where the clients have been with you for years, that you're taking care of their service agreement needs, and they've done tremendous value from that long term relationship.
The hand-holding the face time is so very, very important when it comes to being their trusted technology advisor. If they're not used to working with professional technology providers, if they're used to just getting their help for free from friends and family, and things like that, largely not going to be a good match. And if the platform infrastructure that they have in place doesn't match your skill set, and you don't have a technology provider partner, or a subcontract that you can bring in to fill that gap is mostly not going to be a good match.
Sometimes it's an IT editor technology assessment. Sometimes it's a very well-defined urgent service need. But the key thing is it allows the new customer to get started with you in a very low risk fashion. And vice versa allows you to get started with a new customer relatively low risk. You figure out whether you work well together or not, because obviously the idea of having repeat business with a customer client. But just as a nasty jerk, you know, you can end up having to fight for them at some point down the road. So it's a good idea to take it slow when you're first getting started.
What most of your small business clients need to come in and help organize ? Anything and everything having to do with their IT needs and prioritize. So you have an idea of what needs to be done right now, what can wait till next month?, what can wait until next quarter?, what can wait till next year?, how do you figure out all these things? Well, it starts from the very first moment you meet a new prospect, and you get more and more notes, and more and more ideas on what they should be doing. When you go out to meet with them for the first time, and you get more and more ideas on what they the good, the bad. the ugly among their existing IT systems. When you go out, and you do your technology assessment, and this plan just kind of evolves over time years ago. Most people would put these in simple Excel Spreadsheets. Obviously, now it's much better off, if you can use something where everyone can be on the same page using something, like the Google Docs Worksheet, or even better would be using an Online Project Management Tool, maybe something like base camp, or Zoho Projects.
So, the one goal for your initial sales appointment to be focusing on selling that small initial improvement project to get a new paying customer. You can certainly make things go faster, if you bring along some testimonials, and some case studies from your satisfied clients. You can make things go faster, if you offer to apply that to future work, if you provide a guarantee, and things along those lines. But focus on selling that small initial project that proper third party credibility stuff along with you. If you have a simple one-page letter of engagement with you, something, they should be able to make a decision on the spot, or certainly within a week. And then you have a new customer, you have a foot in the door, and assuming your proving ground project goes.
Now what are the ways one of the best ways to turn these new clients into a steady business, steady repeat business and revenue? It really starts by understanding that you're asking a great question is that new clients are really much, much easier than existing clients. Why?, because existing clients that are used to calling you, whenever they feel like your kind of have to retrain and reorient to think that, you know, they can't just call you when they feel like calling you, unless they're willing to commit you to the duration.
So the first thing to make sure that you get repeat business and steady recurring service revenue is to be very proactive, and take charge really help your small business clients figure out what they need. A lot of them don't realize they know which things are broken. But you, I'm getting good value, and good ROI, getting return on investment. From the IT systems takes a lot more than just worrying about fixing things that are broken. Because a lot of the things that are broken, they may not even realize are broken where they have data that's being re-entered redundantly in three, or four systems. And it's a huge waste of staff, and a huge opportunity to make mistakes, and have inconsistent information.
So, that's the natural point to bring up IT support agreements. That's the natural way to approach repeat in a step-by-step cell sequence. Don't get ahead of yourself, don't jump the gun. It can be a huge turn-off to small business owners and managers. I think you're being too aggressive. You're just looking after their own interests. Make sure you can work well together. Make sure there's a good chemistry. Make sure the personalities mesh well together. Before you propose this agreement that at the minimum is going to be one year and scope. So, the question was how do I take new clients and get more steady, repeat business, and get more recurring service revenue? And again, it starts by having a good coherent step-by-step sales.
Next, you need to have good efficient lead qualification mechanisms in place. You want to make sure that they're at least in the ballpark, and the good candidates to become repeat business clients, and clients that are good candidates for being on your ongoing service agreement program. And again, like I mentioned a few moments ago. If they're too small is generally not a match, if they have a big in house IT department is generally not a match. Certainly not to outsource anything and everything having to do with their IT needs. If they're located too far away or geographically undesirable, it's typically not a match.
So the question is, how do you turn new clients into repeat business and recurring revenue?, how do you turn new clients into repeat business and recurring revenue? An awesome question, and that really is something that a lot more people should be giving a lot more thought than most do. You know technology providers regardless of whether you consider yourself a computer consulting business, or a VAR, or an IT solution provider, or a network integrator, or an MSP, or computer repair business.
Let me tell you got a big a battle to try to convince them of the value of paying for professional. But first and foremost, I think you need good proactive, very specific marketing plan, because marketing to everyone is just kind of a recipe for disaster, unless you have the budget of like a fortune one thousand brands who will almost certainly be spending more on marketing before lunchtime on the year's day. Then you'll be able to spend the entire year. So you have to work a lot more smart when it comes to getting repeat business. And study clients a good step-by-step sales process starting out with strong marketing and lead generation.
That are a certain size that are a good platform matched your skills, and expertise that are in industry similar to industries you've had great success with. And largely used to working with professional technology providers, as opposed for someone to come in, every so often to help out, and get paid in pizza and beer, or something. Because it's the owner's college buddy who works on a help desk for a brokerage firm, or something like that. And comes in once in a while to help if they used to paying for their IT support, and pizza, beer and donuts.
So, you got to not only have good marketing, you got to be realistic about your lead qualification. So you're spending your sales resources, and lead nurturing resources on the right future business opportunities. One goal though, and one big thing that you should be concentrating on when you go out on your sales appointments with new prospective clients is you should have a lot of people when they go out on the sales appointment. They're just kind of drifting. They have no idea what they actually want to accomplish. And what ends up happening is the small business owner manager talks about their grandiose vision of having their website, look like Amazon. And their network infrastructure be as robust as the New York Stock Exchange.
Where you can actually give your clients access to their section of the system? So, they can see what you have scheduled for in the dates. That goes along with it. But the key thing is if there's no in house IT person, and your job to come up with the strategy, just as if you were their CIR, CTO, IT manager on their payroll. They're on a full time basis, except you're doing that on an outsourced basis.
If you or your company are primarily there to help local small businesses with their IT problems on an outsourced basis. It's really, really crucial to focus on making your company an IT support agreement centric as possible. In other words, everything should really revolve around clients that are with you for the duration, ongoing annual support agreements. In other words, rather than marketing to everyone, rather than going out on sales calls and chasing all kinds of bid opportunities where you're just largely reselling hardware, or just too small in the most of your professional recommendations. Everything should be based on building a business that's 100% focused on the needs of clients that are the right size, and are getting a good value proposition by committing to your company for the long haul on an annual service agreement.