You never get a second chance to make a first impression. You've probably heard this phrase a million times, but it will always be true. Think about every job interview you've ever conducted or participated in. Did you stroll in unkempt and unapologetically late, wearing a graphic T-shirt or sandals? Of course not! You know you'd never earn the employer's respect because for one, appearing disheveled indicates that you'd be unorganized on the job. Yet, so many of you MSP business owners fail to meet these standards of professionalism when sending your technicians to meet with prospective clients for the first time. Are you putting your company's best face forward?
In a previous blog post, Always Be Closing: The ABCs of the MSP Sales Process, I discussed lessons about closing leads that I learned from the IT industry's most in-demand marketing consultant, sales trainer, and author, Robin Robins. As you may have read, there are five stages to making the sale in the managed IT services world. It's in the Discover and Diagnose stages that you're ready to visit your prospective client.
But are you really ready? Are your techs prepared to represent your MSP business on your behalf? If you want to secure your prospective client's business, this first appointment is crucial. Robin has many suggestions for how to turn a first impression into a second meeting. Below, I provide five. Whether it's you or your tech visiting, make sure you...
1. Arrive 5-10 minutes early
To be on time is to be late, and to be early is to be on time. Plan for travel time. Will there be heavy traffic? What does Google Maps give for the ETA. Either way, you don't want to appear anxious or rushed when you first meet your prospective client. Robin claims what differentiates closers from other salespeople is their ability to control the situation. You can't help it if I-95 is jammed, but by planning accordingly, it won't matter.
2. Print an agenda (and make copies!)
What is the goal of your appointment? State it in the agenda, along with talking points and action items. Distribute the copies of the agenda to those you're meeting with. They'll appreciate that you took the time to think of them and will expect the same level of consideration and organization by going into business with you. Again, closers control the sales situation. Map out the persuasive conversation you'd like to have, outline your desired objectives, and see it through. You'll be more likely to make the sale than if you just wing it.
3. Do not smell of cigarette smoke
The stench lingers on your clothes so make sure you wash or dry clean them. A few MSP business owners admitted this was a complaint they frequently received from clients.
And while on the subject of smells to avoid, no overwhelming perfume or cologne. Would you want to do business with walking potpourri?
4. Dress professionally and conservatively
No shirt, no shoes, BIG problem. OK, so you're not showing up to your prospective client's business looking like a Cops regular, but wardrobe matters. If you're doing the visiting, wear a clean, collared, pressed shirt. No logo shirts. Robin insists they scream technician. If you're sending your tech, logo shirts are preferred. Whether you're a man or a woman, you should always dress business professional. Sneakers are NEVER to be worn. Do I really have to tell you why?
5. Take careful notes
Your prospective clients will in turn take note of your responsiveness when you have a written record of all of their requests and/or concerns that you're able to follow up on. In the short term, it will also show them that you're paying attention, that what they're saying matters to you. They'll be more open to discussion during the meeting because they'll know you're listening and not just visiting them out of formality. The more they give you to work with, the more you can tailor your service to meet their needs, the better the prescription you can offer, the more successful the sale. Case (and client) closed.
Worried you're making more mistakes?