I got an email a few weeks ago from a relatively new owner of a computer consulting business – we’ll call him Bob (name changed to protect) – who was very excited about being on the “verge of getting (his) very first small business client.” Bob asked for my help, to make sure he “lands the contract with them.”
Bob’s prospect had apparently just purchased a new server, was planning to use it as a file server, and was about to install a third party application that Bob had never heard of or worked with before.
The prospect wanted someone to come on-site and set up the server – and then step back so another consultant, a specialist on this third party application, could install and customize the app.
Bob was asked to write up a quote for how much it would cost to set up the new server, as well as the monthly cost for a maintenance contract.
So Bob’ question for me: “What do you suggest I do and don't do to make sure that I secure this contract?”
Be Mindful of Your Sales Process
If this is a totally new prospect that you literally just met, and this prospect is at the proposal stage already, and the prospect already bought the hardware (without leaning on you as their trusted IT advisor), you probably got there too late to be anything but a commodity broker, where lowest price wins.
When selling computer consulting services that are largely similar to your competitors, marketing innovation – that develops and promotes your business’ thought leadership – is one of the only tools left that can protect your pricing power, profit margins, and ultimate survival.
The IT industry graveyard is filled with computer consulting businesses that tried to bet against investing in marketing innovation. Don’t accept the marketplace’s default plan for just scraping by.
Chart your own course for long-term growth with Inbound marketing. Attract. Convert. Close. Delight.
Move Into Damage Control Mode
This probably wasn’t the advice that Bob wanted to hear, but it's the harsh reality.
Today's B2B buyers spend 57% of their time researching their IT problems and potential solutions before they talk to anyone. If you're not getting found, you're just out of the loop on these conversations and opportunities.
It's kind of like if the prospect needed gall bladder surgery. So the prospect went out and bought their own surgical tools, rented a few hours in the operating room at a local hospital, and started price-shopping for the lowest price surgeon. (Note: That’s a slightly ridiculous analogy and probably illegal in most states and industrialized countries.)
In Bob’s situation, my advice was that if you want to pursue this prospect, be prepared to work for next to nothing and be jerked around a lot. How much time you choose to invest in a bad-fit client largely depends on how badly you want this first client, just for the sake of having a “client.”
The Bottom Line
Going forward Bob, and every other computer consulting business owner in Bob’s situation, needs to get there earlier in the sales cycle -- way before product specs are even discussed and position himself as the trusted technology advisor.
What do you do to make sure that you’re not arriving too late in the sales cycle? Which marketing channels and messages have you found most effective for advancing your thought leadership and establishing trusted advisor status? Let us know in the Comments below.
And to develop your own plan for attracting the right kinds of small business decision makers very early on in the sales process, so you can avoid being relegated to a commodity broker, be sure to download your copy of the IT Channel Inbound Marketing Planning Guide.
Topics:- Computer Consulting Business