The simple questions you should be asking your prospective clients

Richard Tubb

As an IT Solution Provider or Managed Service Provider, we often make assumptions that we know what a prospective client wants. We provide good service. We have well trained engineers. Why wouldn’t a prospective client want what we’re selling?

The trouble is, what you think is important to a prospect and what a prospect actually deems important to their business might be completely different things.

So how do you find out what a prospect really wants? It’s simple, you ask them.

How do you see us helping you?

helpOne of the first questions you should ask any prospect in a sales situation is “How do you see us helping you?”

The prospect's answer to this question should help reveal why you are there. However sometimes, the answer they give you isn’t the real answer at all.

Take, for instance, the common scenario of a prospect calling you in to discuss moving their business to you and away from their existing IT provider.

For prospects who are already working with an IT provider and who have invited you in to discuss moving their business across, the question is a simple one:

Why don’t you want to continue working with your existing supplier?

suppliersIf you get a wishy-washy answer like “We decided it was time for a change” then dig deeper.

Most prospects will happily share with you that the incumbent IT supplier was too slow, or lacked the personal touch, or had let niggling issues fester. Whatever the issues are, this is giving you a clue to what is important – and of value – to the prospect.

Another common sales situation is where you’re not competing with an incumbent supplier, but are in a competitive situation with one or more other IT businesses. In this situation, you might ask this simple question of the prospect:

What are the top three things you’re looking for in a supplier?

Again, your prospects will probably share with you what is of most value to them.

It’s important you understand what the prospect really wants from a new IT supplier and don’t just make assumptions based on what you’re selling.

Proving your value

valueSo, having established that the prospect values certain things above others (and quite often different things to those you pride yourself on offering) it’s time to focus on establishing the value of how you can help them ease that pain.

Where fast response times are key to a prospect, offer evidence: “Our typical response time for existing clients over the past three months has been 94 seconds."

  • Where niggling issues were of concern, give reassurances: “Our engineers schedule monthly site visits to floor walk and ensure niggling issues are addressed and not forgotten."
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  • Where a personal touch is important, give examples: “One of our existing clients thanked us the other day for helping him with an important client proposal on a Friday evening. I’ll happily put you in touch with him if you’d like to discuss?”

What are the consequences of doing nothing?

With all this in mind you need to focus on the consequences to the prospect if they chose NOT to address those pain points.

What would the impact be on the individual concerned and the business as a whole if they didn’t find a supplier with fast response times?

  • How would the prospect deal with those niggling issues if they were left to fester?
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  • How would it make the individual feel if they worked with a supplier who didn’t answer the phone in an emergency?

Conclusion

Asking simple questions of prospective clients in a sales situation seems like common sense, but it’s a step IT companies often overlook in favour of making assumptions over what you, as an MSP, believe a client should want.

Taking the time to ask questions about what is really important to a prospective client can help you to provide the right answers, and demonstrate your value in the areas that are important to your client.