All I want for Christmas is an Easy Button.
Don’t you just want to pay a monthly fee to a coach and have your sales problems disappear?
How about by a marketing program and have the leads fly in?
Pick up a reporting tool and have your BDR’s go really easy.
We all want an easy button and guess what? So do our clients.
You need to Pay Attention
I have a huge client that I have had for many years. I started providing MSP services to them in 2008 and have steadily grown with them as they have developed. In 2008 they had 95 desktops, and now they have 315. For the last several years I have also had an employee on site at their campus, and the client is worth over 50k a month to me.
I know this because I am preparing to meet with them at the beginning of the year to talk about our services, to talk about our relationship. We’re having this meeting because we made a couple of stupid mistakes.
My Spider senses were tingling
For the last three months or so I have been telling my service manager and sales team that we need to get out to the customer and meet with the principles. We have been working with them so long that most of the conversations we have are with upper managers but not the partners in the business. I had this feeling; you know that little tingling in places you don’t want tingling when you’re talking about business. My spider senses were tingling and I didn’t like it.
Sure enough, my phone rang, it was this client, and when they call me it’s never good. They wanted to have a meeting with me to discuss a few things.. At the top of the list were agreements and billing.
Here is what happened. Over the years we had taken away their easy button.
In 2008 I presented to them an all-in approach to IT. They loved it and signed up right away. We signed two agreements that year with them. One for our managed services program and one for a BDR.
How did we get here?
In 2017, 9 years later we had no less than 7 agreements with them and when I pulled the last three months of invoices there was a stack over a 1/2 thick. We had our managed services agreement, our onsite employee or streamlined IT agreements, 3 BDR agreements, a MAC support agreement and a Remote DBA agreement. All with slightly different billing details, expiration dates, and pricing deals. To make matters worse because we never wanted to rock the boat all of these agreements were on our “old paper”. The original version of our MSP contracts from 2008.
We had taken away their easy button.
As I started thinking about this, everything I touched seemed to come back to the lack of an easy button.
For example, a new marketing vendor we are using to help us with our overall marketing strategy just finished working with us to develop an 18-month marketing plan. This was a one-off project for $10,000.00 and the deliverable was the plan. They did a great job and overall we were very happy with the result so we decided to continue on with them, month to month, to help flesh out the plan and execute on it.
They sent me an EchoSign type agreement, you know the kind where you sign online, and in that simple one-page agreement was a link to their terms and conditions. If you clicked on the link you were taken to a webpage, and the terms and conditions were on a webpage. Think about it, who’s to say that the “referenced” T&C’s from today are the same ones listed on the website in the future if something became litigious.
So I asked them to include the terms and conditions in the EchoSign document, not to change a single word simply to include the T&C’s in the document I was signing.
This started a series of requests for me to meet with the owner of their firm, and discuss the change, and get the reasoning behind the T&C’s being online etc.
They took away my easy button
I told them if they couldn’t put the T&C’s into the EchoSign agreement then I was going to look for another vendor. Needless to say they put in into the document without another word but they almost lost $180,000 of MRR over a simple request.
So think about how you can implement the easy button in your company. Think about ways you can simplify processes to make it easier for your prospects, customers and employees to work with you.
Prospects – What’s the ask?
How many of you are asking your prospects to sign up for a free audit on your homepage? This is a pretty big ask of a prospect that doesn’t know you from Adam. Think about starting with a micro-commitment and then working that warm prospect up to an onsite visit or a call. Examples of a micro-commitment might be an eBook download or a grader or survey. Brandable eBooks are available from a variety of MSP vendors like Datto and Continuum. IT Graders, which are simple online surveys, are available from Reframe Your Clients.
HelpDesk – Have it your Way?
Remember the line from the old Burger King commercial, “Have it your way”. Are you doing everything you can to help your customers get to support their way? At our MSP you can open a ticket by using the Connectwise Manage Portal, the Connectwise Automate taskbar icon, emailing the helpdesk or calling on the phone BUT on the weekends and after hours you need to call so that the answering service can alert an engineer. This has gotten us into trouble several times as a customer submits a ticket and they assume we are monitoring the boards after hours, we’re not.
We need an easy button.
Billing and Finance – I hate to beg people to take my money
Are you doing everything to make your agreements and invoices crystal clear. Are you talking to your clients to see how they want to see their bills? Some want all the details, some want just a quantity and price. Some want invoices mailed, some emailed. Some want to use a credit card and pay online. Remember that 1% gain I talked about in the last podcast. Increase your cash levers by just 1% and it will make a huge impact on your business. Simplified billing results in you getting your cash quicker. Another easy button.
Sales – How hard is it for your clients to get a quote from you.
How about the process of actually procuring products and services on behalf of your clients. Do you have an easy button or is it painful and slow to get a quote out of your company. Buyers want a one-click purchase and two-day delivery, they want an easy button. What are you doing to make it easy for your clients to give you money!
Employees – Paid Time Off, Expenses, Flexible time.
How hard is it to work for you? Are you losing employees because you are stuck with old textile factory working rules? Are you judging your employees’ value based in part by the 40 hour work week? Are you subjecting every service tech to every alert message. Maybe it’s time to start implementing an easy button with your staff. Would it really kill you to make some of the changes they have been asking for? How about implementing on-call and OFF CALL time for your techs. Remember pick your battles here. When you need an engineer at 2 am you want to make sure he or she answers the phone.
Give it a think then act on it!
So as you are sipping on the eggnog this holiday season think about ways you can implement the easy button in your business. My big thought for this upcoming year is that we really only differentiate ourselves from our competitors by the way we communicate with them. Let’s try to make that easy.
I want to wish everyone the happiest of holiday seasons and thank you so much for the support you’ve given me and the IT Provider Network since I started in February. I have some exciting news that I am going to be sharing to anyone on our mailing list, so if you haven’t signed up for the IT Provider Network mailing list please head on over to the website and sign up at www.itprovidernetwork.com. I am going to be announcing some exciting new offerings in 2018 and I want you to be the first to know. Sign up and be an inside, exciting things are coming in the beginning of the year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you all in 2018
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