Hot and Heavy Customer Relationships: Beware The Cooldown Stage

David WalterBy David Walter

You launched an all-out sales courtship and were rewarded for your persistence with a signed agreement. Of course, the sales people involved will be high-fiving one another and raking in management congratulations. However, someone needs to be asking this million-dollar question: Was this sale based on true love or fleeting attraction? By that I mean, can your business execute on the sales team’s promises, at a consistently high level and over the long haul?

That depends on a few factors.

First, do your sales people have short attention spans? One challenge that many IT providers face is that the enthusiasm over a new sale can fade away in a flash. Often, sales and marketing people have “prospect fatigue” after having to maintain an intense focus on a potential customer, for some length of time, before they convert the sales lead. This means giving a lot of attention to key decision-makers — inviting them to events, mixers, golfing, dinner, sending thank you cards, gift cards, gift baskets.

The point is, you might spend a lot of time and money romancing a prospect. Then, over time, that attention goes away, leaving the customer feeling neglected.

When that happens, you’re setting your business and the customer up for failure.

Remember: The opportunity to launch a relationship with a new business prospect often opens up as a direct result of the customer’s current MSP’s lack of attention. That means, if you all-out razzle-dazzle prospects in the beginning but attention drops like a rock once the deal is signed, you have set the relationship up to fail.

I have seen plenty of customers that seem to be on a revolving track, where they get wooed away from one IT provider and run into the arms of a new MSP, which then proceeds to ignore them all over again. This causes them to just get lured away, over and over, by one IT provider after another — all because no one took the time to show some love on an ongoing basis.

You Never Call Me Anymore!

Many entrepreneurs start up managed-services businesses or become cloud providers because of the potential for sticky customers and a recurring revenue stream. However, when you have a short-sighted customer-relationship management process, you are effectively sabotaging that potential. Failing to cultivate a steady, ongoing rapport with current customers means they are no longer sticky, and you thus can’t guarantee a solid recurring revenue stream. You could start losing clients at any moment and could even see customer defections spike dramatically, which can trigger layoffs and ultimately cause your business to spiral completely out of business.

The answer is to set up a process that ensures a solid and consistent relationship with every customer after the sale is made. Of course, this process must entail more than just sending out a gift basket to your customers each year. In my next article, I will discuss the key factors to consider. Stay tuned!

David Walter has 16 years of experience in MSP marketing for the MSP business industry, including his current position as marketing director at MSP SEO Factory. He also speaks at trade shows, is a sales trainer for major IT companies, and is a published author with an upcoming book titled, Stratospheric Marketing Secrets for Generating IT Sales Leads.

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