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Ask an MSP ExpertQ: I like to do an annual planning meeting with each of my customers at the beginning of the year, but there’s one customer who’s not getting back to me.  I’ve tried reaching out through the usual means but haven’t heard anything. It feels like they’re freezing me out! What advice can you offer to help me get through to them?

We understand how frustrating it can be when you can’t reach your customers. Whether there’s a looming winter storm, new malicious software to warn them about, or an issue with their backups, you need to be able to get in touch. If your current communication isn’t getting the job done, it’s time to introduce something different to get their attention.

msp-freeze-outThis is actually a good thing because it will force you to stop and think about what approach you’re currently using and uncover new ways to change things up. Thankfully, we know of a number of different creative methods you can try using to reach this stand-offish customer.

Here are three methods for getting in touch with your customers:

1. Pick up the phone

One of the simplest things you can do, which MSPs often overlook, is to pick up the phone and call your customers. Carrie Simpson, CEO of Managed Sales Pros, advises MSPs that the phone isn’t just for cold calling; it’s also for connecting in a way that is real and personal.

Carrie suggests using the phone to facilitate quick check-ins with your customers or reach them in times of escalation. Rather than sending an email, which will probably get ignored, talking on the phone will allow you to learn more about what’s going on. Also, emails can be misunderstood, whereas it’s much easier to read someone’s tone on the phone.

Whether it’s for a check-in call or to resolve an issue, start by picking up the phone. Carrie also advises that even if your customer doesn’t answer, leave them a voicemail and tell them what you’re planning to do and what they can expect next. This will increase the chances that they follow up and call you back to learn more.

2.  Host an event

Another effective way to get in touch with your customers is to offer a chance to meet face-to-face. Host a lunch, open house, or casual cocktail hour, and invite your customers to attend. It can be informal, but be sure to let them know you’re treating them to a meal or a free drink and just want to spend an hour or so checking in and discussing any issues with their IT services.

Another option is to invite both customers and prospects to attend a more formal lunch. Let them know you’re treating them to lunch and chose a nice restaurant that will spark their interest. Bringing your customers and prospects together creates an opportunity for customers to share how your managed services have helped their businesses, and this can help you close more managed service business. Also, you can leverage the face-to-face time to try to upgrade customers to the next service level or tier you offer.

When you reach out to invite these companies to your lunch, rather than bombarding them with another email, follow Carrie’s advice and call them directly. It will make the invitation more personal.

3. Send them something

It’s also a good idea to send your customers something special when you’re having trouble reaching them other ways. For example, you could send them a hand-written note asking how their business is doing and letting them know you’re here to support them. Additionally, you can send them a small gift of something you think they might like, like a box of chocolates or a gift card to their favorite coffee shop. There’s a good chance that they’ll respond to say thank you, and that opens the door for a conversation.

Carrie also suggests stopping by your customer’s office with coffee and cookies. Who doesn’t love a surprise delivery? Hopefully your customer will take a few minutes to catch up with you. You can even use this time onsite to inspect any issues or problems they might be experiencing.

Even if there is a surprise element to this approach, it shows your customer that you’re committed, and it can be extremely rewarding for your business.

Try using these three approaches to get in contact with your customer. Even if they’re freezing you out, you can thaw the relationship with a quick phone call, an invite to a complementary lunch, or a little something special in the mail. We understand how important it is to schedule those annual planning meetings and wish you the best of luck in your pursuit!

Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.

Photo Credit: Tony Webster via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons 2.0

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Courtney Steinkrauss

Posted by Courtney Steinkrauss

Courtney is an Editorial Associate at Intronis. In her role, she assists in creating and publishing content that helps IT service providers grow their businesses.

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