Here we are: 2015. A new slate, a fresh start.
Closing the book on another year, not only is it human nature to look back at the past 12 months and measure your personal successes and setbacks, it’s also prudent business practice. The best way to set constructive and realistic goals for the new year is to take a good look at the past year.
- Where has your business been the most successful?
- In what areas can you improve?
- What’s something new you can learn?
It can be a daunting task but one that will help you get to where you want to be 52 weeks from today.
I’ve had many conversations with our provider partners asking them these very questions. How can we make 2015 the most successful year possible for our agents? The answer has been consistent across the board: Our agents need to become trusted technology advisers instead of commodity brokers.
When a customer comes to you with a single problem or request, use that as an opportunity to dig deep into their business. Your goal should be to understand their problem and how it affects their broader business objectives now and in the future.
Imagine a customer comes to you asking for 15 phone lines in a new office location. You can either say:
A. “I’ll get that quote for you.” or
B. “I’ll get that quote for you. Also, let’s talk about what you’re looking to accomplish. Are you opening up a new location, because your business is growing? Are you taking steps to bolster this growth? Have you thought about investing in technology that can help your offices communicate more efficiently with one another? Is your business continuity plan strong enough to sustain you in the event of a natural disaster? Does your software security need to be updated?” And on and on…
Answer A happens every day. We would like to see more of Answer B.
The future technologist’s value will not be in providing his customers with the cheapest answer to their problem today. Why? Because no agent can offer the cheapest solution every single time. Customers are savvy and they will continue to shop around, looking for the best prices available. If that is your only value to them, you’re sitting on shaky ground and you will lose this relationship when someone down the road inevitably offers a better price.
The way to build firm and long-standing customer relationships is to serve as a source of insight, guidance, and expertise that will not only answer your customer’s needs today, but will address the broader goals they are striving to accomplish, and the challenges they need to overcome to get there. If you’re unsure of where to begin, just start by asking your customer this simple question: “What are you looking to accomplish?”
In 2015 this is my request of you: Don’t aim to make sales. Aim to build relationships. When you dive deep into your customer’s business, when you ask the right questions to really understand their business objectives, I guarantee you will start to uncover new opportunities and more ways you can contribute to their success. You may be pleasantly surprised by the additional successes you discover for yourself too.
As we were in 2014, just as we always have been, TBI is here to help you become that indispensable resource your customers turn to for all their technology needs.
About the Author
As Vice President at TBI, Ken Mercer oversees all sales and operations within the organization. Ken is also active in leveraging his extensive network services expertise to consult with TBI channel agents on large enterprise opportunities and serves on the advisory boards for many of TBI's service providers. You can contact Ken at email@example.com or connect with him on LinkedIn.