Great businesses are built on great relationships. Many MSP sales pros say they’re excellent at building these relationships with prospects and clients, but most don’t try to develop this as a skill. Instead, many will spark conversations with as many people as possible, waiting for something to stick. Unfortunately, the only effective way to establish meaningful relationships is through shared experiences.
Common mistakes from MSP salespeople
Most of today’s salespeople are urgency addicted — they search for shortcuts in building new relationships. Instead of focusing on deep conversations with the people they talk to, they try to establish numerous connections at the same time through invasive email blasts, jarring phone calls, and annoying social media messages.
I recently received a cold email from a salesperson in the Executive Search space. I sent a polite response explaining we weren’t interested and that our business model was a poor fit for their services. I expected that to be the end of it.
A few days later, I received a surprising email with this subject line: “Brad, can you spare six minutes on Thurs, Dec. 5 at 10:00?” Instead of accepting my previous response, the rep decided to plow ahead and try to start a conversation. After reading the subject line, I couldn’t help but think sarcastically, “Oh! Well, if it’s only going to be six minutes, maybe we should talk! Golly, I can’t wait to spend six minutes on the phone together!”
I never responded. These tacky, selfish approaches to making connections with prospects and clients are destined to fail because they offer little respect for the person on the other side of the table. When someone is trying to sell to them, people become annoyed or even angry. Instead of trying to connect with long lists of prospects through email blasts, we should concentrate on having deeper conversations by uncovering the shared experiences that connect us as people.
We’ve developed three strategies within the PT Services Group for finding the shared experiences between our representatives and our client.
Learn about your clients on a personal level
We maintain a file for each client that contains a list of questions the account representative needs to ask within the first 12 months of doing business together. We track details like where they like to vacation, where they grew up, if they’re married, and other characteristics that define them as a person. With these details in hand, our account reps can establish deep connections by bonding over similar experiences.
As you work with your own MSP clients, many of these personal details will come up organically, but you should take notes so that you remember them in the future. Depending on the type of relationship you want to establish with your clients, your list may need to be even more detailed than ours.
Empower team members to build relationships.
We give our account representatives the time to foster personal relationships with each client. Although holding deeper conversations with clients can pull time away from other assignments, we see the benefits in improved communication and stronger client relationships.
Consider budgeting time in your meetings to develop relationships and schedule events that allow you to have shared experiences. Consider holding an appointment over breakfast or invite your clients to a holiday party. While these activities may seem like distractions from your work, they will foster better relationships if your clients can tell you are genuinely interested in getting to know them as people.
Engage with clients on work anniversaries
We celebrate our client anniversaries to commemorate the day we started working together. How we decide to celebrate depends on the length of the relationship and the information we have gathered about our client contact. It could be as simple as sending a hand-written note or inviting them into the office to meet the team for lunch. We are all accustomed to hearing from vendors on our birthday and holidays, so make your relationship anniversary something to remember.
Each tactic requires us to invest additional time into the relationship, but our efforts pay off when our representatives truly connect with our clients.
There are no shortcuts in building relationships. Instead of relying on technology to talk to as many people as possible, we should concentrate on improving the quality of the conversations we have with prospects and clients. When we uncover the shared experiences that connect us, we’ll benefit from stronger relationships.
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