The SBSC Logo is Worthless…

April 4, 2008 – 3:43 pm

…if you don’t do the right thing for your customers.  In reading a dear friend’s blog today about being sticky, Andy mentioned repeatedly that the key to success in small business is actually about putting the client’s interest first.  Check out this wisdom where Andy writes:

Well you don’t become a trusted advisor overnight, or by taking some test or training course. You become a trusted advisor over time by giving great advice and putting the client’s business needs before your own  needs.  Don’t lock them into some product or service just for the lock-in value. Lock them into trusting you by always putting their problems and needs ahead of yours. Don’t be afraid to sell them what they need instead of what they want.

Don't Let Go

So what does this have to do with the SBSC logo?  A lot!.  Many of us are counting on the Microsoft LED team to rally the allies in the battle for desktops and SaaS in SMB.  A good part of Microsoft’s ROI will come down to how well the allies and SBSC partners not only execute on the opportunities, but also what kind lasting impression and experience the prospective business get from their emersion in our unified small business solution selling events and messages.  Will the collaborated events be like Amway sales meeting (where you meet a nice couple at church and they invite you over for dinner in hopes of building a downline from your relatives and all the other unsuspecting guests in the house) or will prospective customers feel nurtured, informed and genuinely cared about on the drive home or after the first sale?

Some may argue, but I truly believe that our success (and Microsoft’s success) in this space is not going to be based on Eric’s well oiled marketing machine, the great ready to go campaigns available on the partner site, the new exam structure, the amazing Infopath driven sales tools MS keeps pushing our way or even the stickness of the solutions we provide.  In small business, our long term success depends on our customers trusting us to do the right thing each and every time.   Sometimes that means telling them no or sending them to your competition (yes we setup some g-mails for a client this week).  Small business owners are desperate for somebody to trust and equally confused about all the technical choices before them.   We have a chance each and every day to do the right thing for then and ultimately ourselves by doing so.

Today after sitting down with a managed customer and agreeing with them that it was time for them to find another provider I did the best thing I could do for myself and my future.   I drove to three other clients offices in a row and dropped in for absolutely no other reason than to say hi.  If felt great and they appreciated the thought.  

What do you do for your customers that shows you can be trusted to the right then for them over own self interests?

  1. 6 Responses to “The SBSC Logo is Worthless…”

  2. What do you do for your customers that shows you can be trusted to the right then for them over own self interests?

    Integrity.

    I am not sure where you can buy a book on that, but it is about the only thing next to honestly that you can take into a business relationship and actually treat it as a relationship and not a transaction.

    Almost all of Microsoft’s incentives are transaction based. “$100 Check for a signup of a 5 seat deal” or “Kickback for each deployment of standardised desktop platform” or “Fire sale.”

    The secret to operating a great services business is offering great service and focusing on the service and relationship that comes with it. If you only look at transactions, only focus on the amounts and measurements, only see the solution to a problem, then there isn’t really much to you thats not available elsewhere, is there? If all you do is standardized, measured and evaluated, that means someone else can run the same blueprint business.

    The trust? Gone.

    Thats why people do not change doctors very often. But they change their restaurant, oil change, car dealer and virtually everything else transaction based ALL the time.

    -Vlad

    By Vlad Mazek on Apr 4, 2008

  3. You will never succeed in business until you put the needs of your clients first, rule number one of business. fancy brochures, fancy proposals and fancy offices don’t mean anything if the client doesn’t like you and trust you.

    Remember Sales 101, people buy based on the relationship the sales person or the technician has with the client, then the company relationship second and finally the product.

    I like the comment on selling what the client needs, this is critical. If they want to cheap out then let them be the competition’s issue and challenge.

    We have dumped a bunch of smaller bottom feeders over the past while and this week alone we have spoken with 5 or 6 mid-market clients. What you focus on, grows….are you focusing on the right things.

    Stuart Crawford
    Calgary, AB
    http://www.stuartcrawford.com
    http://www.thewealthyprofessional.ca

    By Stuart R. Crawford on Apr 4, 2008

  4. Mark, I think your example of randomly “stopping by” to visit clients is a great component to building strong relationships, and shows the client that you value them. I don’t do that enough, or at least as much as I used to, and I’m certain we have clients who really miss that. One of my salespeople does a fantastic job at that…and he’s building great loyalty with his clients.

    I also think there’s a lot to be said for really demonstrating interest in the client’s business. On those all-too-rare occasions, when I sit with a client and learn about a challenge/struggle/inefficiency/problem they’re facing, and when I FOLLOW-UP with an idea or solution, THEN I’m acting as a trusted advisor.

    Finally, I agree with Vlad that integrity is everything. Sometimes I think that we (at our company) demonstrate integrity best after we’ve really screwed up…by listening with humility and openness, and by truly trying to find the fair compromise or resolution.

    I think that knowing how to build a strong relationship with clients is easy…but DOING it is more challenging. Short-term gain (read: my greed) sometimes interferes with my making longer-term investments in relationships. Blog posts like yours, Mark, help me remember the right priorities.

    Erik Thorsell
    Minneapolis, MN
    http://www.sccnet.com

    By Erik Thorsell on Apr 5, 2008

  5. Hi Erik,
    Thanks for the comment. There is one comment you made that I would like to counter. Sales people can NOT do a fantastic job of building the relationship your customers really need. I belive that in our space we need to maintain relations at the C level with our customers and not the sales level. Buyers and sales people come and go but CxOs tend to be around for a while. Just my $.02…

    By Mark on Apr 5, 2008

  6. I agree with all this. I have been consulting within the SMB space for most of my working career. Customers just want someone they can trust to make everything work properly and give them the right advice.

    Anyway the good news is that there ARE a lot of people in the SMB consulting space who do share this view.

    Here is an example
    http://carpe-diem.typepad.com/ms_partners/2008/03/how-do-we-stop.html

    Cheers

    Andrew Nayler
    WEBS-SBS.blogspot.com

    By Andrew Nayler on Apr 19, 2008

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