There’s an old Chinese saying, sometimes known as a curse: “May you live in interesting times”.
Well, you couldn’t ask for more interesting times than we live in right now, could you?
When the least qualified, least likeable, racist and sexist candidate can become the President of the United States, it shows us that:
a) anyone really can achieve anything, and
b) all bets are off for what could happen over the next decade.
We’ve already lived through a decade of incredible change. When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to us in 2007, he triggered the true revolution in the way we communicate, interact and consume information.
When the change happens to you on a daily basis, you don’t notice it so much. But look back at how different your life and business are today, compared to 10 years ago.
That decade was just the start. I think thanks to Brexit, Trump and more to come, the next decade will have even more change for us.
As a species we are facing some immense challenges around clean energy, clean transport, and climate change. We need to back-up the species to Mars. No-one’s yet talking about the risk of overpopulation, but that’s an issue too.
You could strongly argue we have not equipped ourselves with the best short-term leaders to get us through these long-term challenges. Which is likely to mean the economy will take a good beating in the decade ahead. And there’s a growing possibility of conflict.
But you know what probably won’t change?
People will still need and want a business like yours. As technology continues its exhausting revolution, the average business owner and manager will want a trusted partner to hold their hand on the way.
The challenge to you – is to make sure it is your business that they turn to, and not one of your competitors.
Around about now you are likely to be planning what you want to achieve in 2017. I take time every autumn (usually a bit earlier in September) to think about the year ahead.
Here are 5 strategies that are designed to protect and grow any IT support (or IT consultancy) business next year.
1) Stop selling to people. Start building a relationship with them instead
Everyone hates being sold to. And yet we love to buy. Most buying decisions are made by the heart not the brain – yes, including B2B decisions such as which IT support company to use.
The worst way you can sell your business is to be a photocopier sales person (you know what I mean by that). No-one trusts photocopier sales people. It’s why our hearts sink when we meet them.
Instead, you should aim to be become a trusted advisor. Most people who buy IT support or consultancy don’t know what they don’t know. As they realise this – and become conscious incompetents – they will seek out people to educate them, guide and help them.
If your business can provide that education, guidance and help, you stand an exceptionally good chance of picking up their business at the point they are ready to buy.
The way to do this is through a well thought through, educational lead generation system:
- You find out who is in the market for buying IT support or consultancy
- You get them to tell you who they are, and give you their permission to market to them
- You teach them how to buy IT support or consultancy
- You are there in front of them at exactly the moment they are ready to buy. For some this is days. For others this is years. And everything inbetween.
SIDE NOTEOne of my major service launches for 2017 will be a comprehensive and powerful lead generation system for IT support companies. It’ll strictly be open to only one company per geographical area.
I’m looking for 3 companies to trial this system. It’s a chance to get it customised to your exact wants and needs.
If you’d like to have a no obligation discuss about being a trial client, please click here book a 20 minute conversation with me.
2) Start using 80/20 thinking about prospects and clients
Clients are not made equally. You’ve probably noticed that most of your hassle and stress comes from a small number of clients. It’s the same with profit.
This is Pareto’s Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. The rule declares that input and output are not equal. If that’s the case, then why treat all clients the same way?
Have you got a nightmare client who your staff hate? FIRE THEM! Best staff retention action you can take. I’m serious. Toxic clients kill staff and profits. It’s highly cathartic to ask them to find a new supplier. And a new client will soon turn up to replace them.
I’m sure you’ve got a great client who generates loads of profit? Don’t ignore them because all your time is taken up with the worst clients… super serve them instead. Give them some love. Watch them buy more and their profitability go up.
3) Triple your client retention efforts
Most IT support businesses don’t do nearly enough to retain existing clients. All of the focus is on getting new clients in. Yet the true profitability of a client only really comes in the long-term.
You will have something called an Average Lifetime Value for each client. It’s the amount of revenue a typical client will generate in the time they spend with your business.
It’s often a lot higher than you think. Which is why you should be willing to:
a) invest more resource to acquire a client in the first place, and
b) invest more resource to keep them.
What keeps clients? Doing a great job is important, sure. But most often, retention is affected by the small things more than it is the key support service.
Bad communication, grumpy staff, slow response – all these things have a negative effect on retention. Hunt them down and eradicate them.
4) Sell more to existing clients
In fact, one of the best retention tools you have is to increase the amount of stuff people buy from you.
Your staff may consider that the less people have to buy, the happier they will be. That’s slightly twisted thinking.
We buy things in two ways. Stuff we need with our brains. Stuff we want with our hearts. The challenge is to get clients focused less on what they need, and more on what they want.
People who buy more of what they want are typically happier, better retained clients. It needs to become habitual within the business to tell people everything that you can do for them (in a way that’s not overwhelming).
PS the very, very best retention and increased sales will come from people who are in a recurring revenue support scheme.
5) Chew the fat with your clients, staff and suppliers
Sometimes as business owners, we confuse business with busyness. Because there’s so much that needs to be done, all of the time. So we put our heads down on a Monday morning, and don’t come up for breath till Friday afternoon.
Unfortunately, that busyness stops you from fulfilling your most important role in the business – talking to people.
Your clients. Your staff. Your suppliers. Not for any particular reason. Just to chew the fat.
All the answers to producing a better business are locked inside the heads of the people you speak to. Your job is to ask the right open questions to get them out (and put your listening ears on).
Schedule an hour a week, every week, into your diary to do this.