As a business, we have always intuitively pursued a good client fit. That desire goes beyond simply avoiding problem clients—though that is a benefit as well. We also want to find the most productive relationships possible. When we find clients that “click” with our process and our people, the work is not only more effective for everyone involved, but more fun, too.
So, when one of our MSP clients shared their client fit scale with us, we were intrigued. Until that point, we had not considered actively quantifying client fit.
Quantifying client fit
This MSP rates prospects on a scale of one to five, taking into account factors ranging from the size of the prospect’s business and their current needs to their culture and their internal processes. Prospects that rank as a one or two are probably too small or too large for the MSP (or perhaps exhibit glaring warning signs about what it would be like to work with them). Prospects that rank at a three are closer to the right side but might have problems with their process or culture that could impact the work of the MSP.
Prospects that rank as a four are the right size, have the right kind of culture, and have a clear need for what the MSP provides. Prospects that rank as a five have needs that are beyond the scope of what the MSP wants to provide. For example, the prospect may want 24/7 general tech support, and the MSP does not want to take the business in that direction.
With this system, they pursue fours and sometimes take in threes. The result? They retain more clients and see a higher frequency of clients adding additional services and products as the relationship develops. Plus, the referrals they get are more likely to be ideal prospects as well.
How to evaluate prospects
Focusing on finding ideal target prospects can take a certain level of resolve, but resolve alone is not enough. You also need to effectively evaluate prospects. You might end up using a scoring system someday, but even if you don’t, you can incorporate the following suggestions:
- Learn from the sales process. How a prospect behaves in your initial conversations can be a powerful indicator of what the rest of the relationship will look like. If the prospect is difficult to communicate with then, the rest of the dynamic is likely to be troublesome as well. Empower your sales team to say no, and that might mean reevaluating your commission structure so your sales team isn’t punished for turning away a prospect.
- Listen to your team. A sale in the MSP space will likely involve multiple members of your staff as the discussion and discovery sessions get underway. If you empower your people to be candid about their experience with a prospect, they may reveal aspects of the prospect that you didn’t get to see.
- Couple data with intuition. A rating system is a good tool, but there is also something to be said for relying on your gut. If a prospect doesn’t feel right, that’s worth taking into account as you decide whether or not to move forward.
- Reflect on existing clients. If you take notes about your sales process and do regular reviews of active clients, you may be able to uncover indicators (good and bad) that were not immediately apparent. This could help you guide your marketing efforts as well as shape how you determine client fit.
A truly perfect client fit may be a fairy tale. Every relationship, even the best ones, will at some point have conflict and tension—but pursuing the ideal fit at all turns is good business. The better you understand who you are and who you work best with, the more impactful your sales and services will become, which cascades into a wealth of other rewards, not the least of which is a happy client and a happy team.
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