"Thank you for your time and service, but we are going to switch to another IT services provider." These are words that you never want to hear. Retaining clients is a huge part of any business, so when your clients are leaving you to partner with your competition, there is cause for serious concern. Of course, there will always be businesses out there that are able or willing to undercut your prices. Price is a difficult thing to compete with. However, if your clients aren't even letting your competitors in the door, you'll have nothing to worry about.
So, how do you keep the competition out of your clients' offices? There are a few specific things that you can focus on, but they all tie back to the idea of forming a partnership. You want your clients to feel like you're working with them to keep their businesses up and running.
1) Build Strong Relationships
The goal is for your clients to not even consider any other options for their IT needs. To make this happen, you need to be proactive in building strong relationships. If you are just the name attached to a company that is operating behind the scenes, it's much easier to walk away from your business without a second thought, especially when a cheaper option comes around. Don't let that happen. Build a relationship and a partnership with your clients that makes them feel as though you're a true extension of their team and a crucial part of their operation.
You should be spending as much face time as possible with your clients. The more time you spend with someone, the stronger that relationship will become. Do you know the name of their dog? If not, you aren't doing enough. You want your clients to feel as though they can pick up the phone and get a hold of you at any time, and they should be comfortable doing this. Listen, this is IT, as much as we hate to admit it, things are going to go wrong. You need to have a strong foundation in place so that when something does go wrong, your clients won't jump ship on you.
Understandably, it can be difficult to find the time needed to foster these relationships, especially if your focus is on the entire operation of your business. You should seriously consider bringing on Account Managers to work on fostering these relationships.
2) Demonstrate Your Value
You need to focus on getting your clients to understand just how crucial you are to the well-being of their business. Monthly, or at the very least, Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) should be scheduled with your clients. These meetings are the perfect time for you to show your clients what you're doing for them and what working with you means for their business. In order for these meetings to be effective, you need to build your business on the foundation of premier service. You want your network assessment to print out forest green, not blood red.
Once this level of service is established, you'll be able to fend off those pesky competitors that are leading with price. Your clients will understand that managed IT services is about more than just speed and price, but about customer success and health.
3) Be Proactive With Your Services
There is nothing that will make a client jump ship quicker than finding out that a competitor is offering a service that you
aren't. You can't get beat on solutions. This is an area that you NEED to be proactive in. If you're spending ample time researching industry trends and the latest solutions, you'll be able to match or beat your competition in every single aspect of service.
Additionally, being able to offer the latest IT services gives you an increased chance of flipping the script and taking clients from your competitors. If you are offering a new service, find out if your top competitors are offering the same thing. If they aren't, that my friends, is a BIG opportunity.
These three tips all center around the idea of building a partnership. To make a sports analogy, think about when an athlete builds a strong bond with the team that he/she plays for. If they become entrenched in the organization, the city and the fans, it is much harder for that player to walk away from that organization, even if another team is offering them more money or increased playing time. Building strong relationships, demonstrating value and being proactive with services is a good way to build a winning team of franchise players.
Demonstrate your value by educating clients!
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel