At a recent seminar I spoke to the owner of a successful IT Managed Services company in Philadelphia. In just over a decade, his business grew to more than 50 employees and half a million dollars a month in recurring, on-contract revenue. It’s hard not to be impressed with that kind of development and growth in such a competitive field. What he told me next surprised me even more: “I also do consulting for managed services businesses in Philly. I go into their offices, look at their processes, and teach their people how to sell in this sector.” He went on to say, “I don’t worry that they are competitors to my own managed services business. There is enough business out there for everyone. Every company you encounter either has a need for IT services or will in the future. Everyone is a potential client.” I was stunned, mostly because he was right and I’d never thought of it that way.
The first, most important thing to understand about IT sales prospecting is that everyone is a potential client.
You certainly may choose to specialize in a certain vertical or service only clients of a particular size or location (for example). But the IT services sector is one of the few where such a large segment of the population is a potential client. Like a tax preparation firm or a mechanic’s shop, most everyone you encounter is likely to have a need for IT services at some point in time. And if they aren’t a potential client themselves, it is a near-certainty that they are acquainted with someone that is. From fixing a computer to migrating an old exchange server into Office 365, the rapid pace of technological development means that businesses must constantly adapt to new offerings and efficiencies.
While the notion that “everyone is a potential client” can at first seem overwhelming, it is now the key to your lead generation and IT sales prospecting process. For your business to gain new customers and generate new sales, you have to find prospective customers and clients. Understanding that everyone you encounter is either a potential client or potential referral source is the first step to building a sales engine that produces results.
So how do you harness the idea that everyone is a potential customer and turn it into a way to find qualified leads?
If the most important thing to understand about IT sales prospecting is that everyone is a potential client, then the most important thing to do is to educate them on the importance of what you offer. Notice I didn’t tell you to educate them about your exact offering. No one cares about your offering yet. You haven’t yet learned about the IT challenges their company faces, so you can’t possibly know if what you offer fits their needs – how in the world can you start selling them something?
Educating people about the importance of your offering is different then “selling,” because you aren’t going to ask for anything in return. Rather, you are taking a different approach, an approach that declares, “This is what our organization does and we are confident in our ability to do a great job at it.” Repeat that to yourself; to be successful in adding new clients and customers you must dispense with selling and shift your mindset to evangelizing. You aren’t going to ask for business. Rather, you are going to communicate the value of what you offer and let the business come to you.
How to evangelize? Simple…
- Get the word out. From blogs to email marketing to lunch-and-learn workshops, any avenue you can find to distribute your message should be taken advantage of. You should establish a platform that doesn’t offer to sell anything, but rather establishes you or your company as a trusted resource for information within the sector. Let the community (be it across the country or just around the neighborhood) learn that your organization is expert in its offerings. Your message should state what you do and your never-ending confidence that you do it well. Don’t sell, evangelize.
- Give it all away. No, I’m not suggesting you give away services for free in an effort to earn customers. That’s a terrible idea as it is counterintuitive to what we are trying to accomplish! But you shouldn’t be shy about demonstrating your expertise. For example, a friend that owns a small business asks what desktop computers you recommend for their office. Instead of quickly emailing a quote for the HP hardware your company sells, pick up the phone and spend a few minutes educating them about the differences between various manufacturers and models. Believe it or not, a majority of the time your candor and helpfulness will gain their confidence and open more and more doors as time passes, even if your offering isn’t the right fit. Don’t sell, evangelize.
- Talk to everyone, all the time. As we’ve already established that everyone is a potential customer or client, there are very few gatherings of business leaders where your time will be wasted. From Chamber of Commerce breakfasts to neighborhood block parties, let people know that what your company offers matters. “Hey there, call me next week about the new software you need to buy” will get you added to the uninvited the next time around. “You know, I think I can help you make the right decision on that software you need if you are interested. Feel free to get in touch with me whenever you like and I’ll try to help” is a much simpler, subtler way to get the word out. Don’t sell, evangelize.
The information offered above is admittedly broad, but that’s because it is so counterintuitive to the very nature of salesmanship. You aren’t selling commodities or simple products. You are offering solutions, and solutions take knowledge, expertise, and trust between the parties involved. The best way to plant the seeds necessary to cultivate new customers is to demonstrate those three qualities. You simply cannot do that if you are asking for a sale or counting dollar signs. Genuine expertise and assistance will shine through. When you become a trusted resource, you will earn a client. Maybe they buy tomorrow, maybe it takes months or even years. But building relationships that offer assistance instead of a solicitation for money will earn you more new clients over time than you can imagine.
In the next installment we’ll be focusing on taking the actions above and turning them in to real, actionable leads. Until then, click here to learn how Mosaic NetworX can help solve your IT challenges without making you feel like just another sales prospect.