5 Tactics to Ensure You Know Your Clients’ Goals
This is part 4 of our content series “Adapt: Strong Advice for POS Resellers,” powered by Vend
Before we dive into knowing your customers’ goals, let me share something I know about you. You get bored quickly. You want to be informed but you also want to be entertained. Your primary goals for reading this post are (1) to learn new best practices related to sales and client service and (2) to not fall asleep halfway through because you’re getting drowned with tactical talk.
To help you accomplish those goals, I’m going to integrate my list of five tactics that will help resellers ensure they know their clients’ goals with a few customer-oriented quotes that you probably haven’t heard before. (We’re skipping over “The customer is always right” and “Your customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”)
These best practices are a result of leading resellers sharing with me what works for them – what helps them not only retain customers but upsell them. Ultimately, this article should help you understand your clients’ goals and problems well enough so you can adapt your business to provide indispensable products and services to your merchants. Not just good products and services. Not just highly-rated products and services. Indispensable products and services. The bar is high, but the rewards are great.
Tactic #1: Conduct regular 1-on-1 client meetings
This might be the #1 advantage locally-based resellers have over internet providers of technology. So why not exploit this? Successful VARs I’ve worked with meet with their customers on a regular basis – as frequently or infrequently as necessary – instead of only when the customer has a problem. One VAR I know blocks out extra time around his prospecting calls to make sure he also visits his customers in the area. Even if the meeting is a brief stop-by or a pre-scheduled 20-minute phone call, you give yourself the opportunity to learn more about your market and your customer’s up-to-date needs, and it shows them you care about them as an individual. Don’t leave these meetings to chance; track when you meet with each customer and review that report at least quarterly to see where you have gaps.
“Assumptions are the termites of relationships.” Henry Winkler
Tactic #2: Conduct QBRs (quarterly business reviews) with as many clients as reasonable
This best practice comes from a reseller who serves both multi-location and single-location retailers. The more complex the customer, the more likely (and beneficial) to conduct a quarterly business review with them. This VAR essentially treats those customers like a separate business unit, studying reports, meeting with the leadership team every three months, and looking for upsell opportunities. Your QBRs shouldn’t just rehash day-to-day issues from the past quarter. Have a strategic discussion that not only covers the customer’s current pain points but also their go-forward strategies. This is an opportunity for you to share the new products and services on your roadmap – and gather intel from the customer about which new offerings would suit their needs best.
“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face-to-face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” Ross Perot
Tactic #3: With key clients, conduct an annual meeting after they’ve completed their yearly budget to discuss their goals
You can see these first three tactics require you to establish customer tiers. Who should have a regular 1-on-1 meeting? (Probably everyone.) Who should have a QBR? (Complex, high-dollar customers for sure.). And who should have a sit-down annual meeting? The answer to that is your most impactful clients. During this annual meeting, ask questions such as, “What are your top 3-4-5 projects your executive team has decided to pursue?” and “How can we help? How can we be prepared?” This might sound like the QBR meeting, but the QBR typically looks back and ahead a couple quarters. This meeting is a deep dive into your client’s next 12-18 months.
You might be thinking to yourself that I’m recommending a lot of meetings, but there are two reasons why these are best practices. First, proactively meeting with your customers is far more effective and actually less time consuming than trying to win them back after they drift to another provider. Second, there’s no substitute for getting closer to your customers. None.
“The Customer: Someone that indirectly pays for your food, clothes, and vacations. Be nice to them.” Gene Caballero
Tactic #4: Conduct an annual survey of all your clients
You can’t go to work on fixing your weaknesses if you have a blind spot to them. If you never uncover that blind spot, your frustrated customers will move to another provider when the opportunity presents itself. An annual customer survey enables you to uncover those aforementioned business blind spots. Be sure to give your customers the option to remain anonymous when completing your survey. That will ensure you’re hearing their unvarnished thoughts and feelings.
“Don’t try to tell the customer what he wants. If you want to be smart, be smart in the shower. Then get out, go to work, and serve the customer!” Gene Buckley
Tactic #5: Embrace “Commercial Teaching”
This concept comes from the book The Challenger Sale and it’s been embraced by many leading VARs (and discussed at several channel conferences I’ve attended). The book defines Commercial Teaching as “teaching the customer something new about how their company can compete more effectively.” Merchants will say “I want!” or “I need!”, and you responding to them quickly is good customer service. But even more valuable is you proactively analyzing their business and showing how you can improve their outcomes. Teaching your clients and prospects how new technologies can grow their sales is supremely valuable to them.
“The more helpful you are, the more pleasant the customer is.” A.J. Saleem
Bonus Tactic and Bonus Quote! Almost always say “yes” to sponsoring any client charitable event and client-hosted conference. The successful VAR who shared this best practice with me said, “When you lose the relationship, you lose the client.”
Adapt: Strong Advice for POS Resellers is powered by Vend. Used in over 25,000 stores around the world Vend is the point of sale of choice for inventory-based retailers. Through our reseller program, we partner with ISOs, dealers, agents and merchant level salespeople to help our partners and merchants sell more, save more and make more. Learn more about our program.
Adapt Part 1: 5 Fundamentals of POS Reseller Marketing
Adapt Part 2: Content Marketing Shortcuts for POS Resellers
Adapt Part 3: Your Best Salesperson Isn’t a Salesperson
Channel Business Advisor Jim Roddy works with high-initiative, growth-oriented point of sale VARs, ISVs, and MSPs to help them uncover their blind spots with customers, employees, and business best practices. Then he applies his 25+ years of business management experience, executive leadership, and retail IT industry expertise to help them get better. Jim can be reached at jim@JimRoddyCBA.com.