IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Coach Your Clients to Be Better Buyers

Make sure they know your whole playbook and what it takes to be part of your team. By Robin Robins

WITH FOOTBALL SEASON in full swing, it reminds me that the same skills coaches use with players can be applied to your clients.

Too often, business owners are so focused on acquiring new clients that they overlook the buying power in the ones they already have. You can actually coach your clients not only on how to buy more from you but also how to be more enjoyable to work with. Let’s dig in …

Years ago, I sought out and purchased a phone system from a vendor, only to have my current IT company grouse at me for not buying through them. I told them they were idiots for not educating, reminding, and pursuing me to let me know they offered that. A BIG question you need to ponder: Do your clients know all the products and services you sell?

Here’s a test: Offer your clients $1,000 if they can name every service you provide. Have no fear—in most cases you’ll keep your money.

At a minimum, you should be conducting quarterly business reviews (QBRs) with every top client, going over current services and suggesting additional ones they might benefit from, even if you’ve discussed this before. Situations, needs, and budgets change all the time. Other ways:

  • Feature products and services in your newsletter, either with ads, client case studies, or success stories, or even in promotional flyers.
  • Hold frequent educational webinars and seminars.
  • Run cross-sell campaigns at least once a quarter.

At the same time, focus on cultivating a productive, profitable, and mutually beneficial relationship with your clients. Developing that asset is critical to the success of any service firm, yet many business owners neglect this.

Can you list the systems and processes you have in place for advancing that agenda? What are the specific things you are sending them or doing for them so that they behave in a manner that allows you to deliver your best advice?

Most important: Do you have a FRAMEWORK or list of instructions on how to be a good client?

All too often the motivation to buy my Technology Marketing Toolkit is to find “more and better-quality clients” because the current ones are all ungrateful, cheap, dysfunctional jerks. Always gives me a laugh. Why? Because you get the respect you demand—nothing more.

If you find yourself awash with clients who take advantage of you, disrespect you, undervalue and underpay you, that’s because YOU allow it, and are most likely inviting it. Your bank balance has a lot to do with how tolerant and accepting you are of being crapped on.

In David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man, there is a chapter titled “How to Be a Good Client.” When he wrote the book, he did it to get more clients and prepare his business to go public, as well as to use it as a positioning piece. The book accomplished all three objectives. That chapter was strategically included to teach new clients what would be expected of them should they become a client of his. That chapter alone makes the book worth reading.

As for a strategy, how about creating a pre-sales and post-sales letter that details “How to Be a Good Client and Get the MOST Value Out of Your IT Services Provider”? In the sales process, you can use it to further define who you work best with and to differentiate. Post-sale, you could use it as a reminder of their responsibilities in the relationship to make it work.

We’ve all seen the feel-good stories of the coach who comes in with a ragtag team and turns them around. He earns their trust and respect, which you should already have since you won the business in the first place. All you have to do now is show them how they can win.

ROBIN ROBINS is CEO of Technology Marketing Toolkit.

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