Service Trends

Blog archive

Partners: First Impressions Could Be Killing Your Business

What happens when a prospect reaches out to your organization? Do they receive a fast, professional response from their first contact? Is their journey through the sales process equally professional and efficient? Are you sure?

Based on the recent experiences of a mystery IT shopper, there are too many managed service buyers having less-than-exceptional customer engagement experiences.

A post written by Cheryl Salazar of The Partner Marketing Group about her experience as a mystery IT shopper for managed services is a real eye-opener. Salazar contacted eight professional services firms requesting proposals for managed services to support IT, security and ERP. A number of the firms she contacted were slow to respond, with one completely ignoring three voicemail messages. First contact with the firms ranged from puzzling to pleasant, with follow-through similarly skewed.

While Salazar's sample size was admittedly very small, it's probably an indicator of truths for far too many partners.

To ensure that your customer experience processes are working as well as you think, run you own test. You can engage a mystery shopper of your own by hiring a college student or an Upwork freelancer as a start. They can make initial inquiries to test your sales and marketing response processes. Test every entry point, including Web forms, e-mail and phone calls, to make sure that your prospects don't hit dead ends or frustrating loops.

The next step is to walk through the processes your sales team follows when they receive a lead. Your sales and marketing team should have a well-defined system with supporting content to usher prospects through their buying decision, including:

  • An established list of qualifying questions designed to draw out more details from the prospect.
  • Collateral that explains the value of the services you deliver, not just a laundry list.
  • Content that validates the claims you make, like case studies from satisfied clients.
  • An established process to arrange reference calls with current clients.

A particularly surprising, and disappointing, observation by Salazar was the quality of proposals she received. As the final step in closing the sale, one would think that most tech service providers would have a fine-tuned proposal process. Apparently not.  

As Salazar suggests, proposals should be designed to explain the value the services deliver to your prospect. Your potential buyers are deciding whether the benefits from your services justify the money they will pay you. Stand in the shoes of your prospects and look objectively at your proposals. Do they answer all the questions that you would ask? Do they convey professionalism?

Bad first impressions are a silent killer of businesses. You generally don't hear complaints from prospects -- they just move on. If your sales and marketing teams aren't working in lockstep and tracking results, prospects could be falling through the cracks without anyone knowing. Before you fall victim, take a look at your systems and make sure first contact with your prospects is a stellar experience.

How are you creating great first impressions and building better customer experiences? Send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on June 21, 2017