Attracting new customers is an age-old endeavor for companies of all types and sizes, but with the endless options for self-service applications for every end of business, IT consultants face an increasing challenge to create value for their customers.
If no one is knocking down your door to obtain your products or services, could it be because you are not filling in any gaps in your line of business, or there is too much competition in your locale or for the markets you are targeting? Sometimes you need something unique or innovative to motivate interest from prospective new clients. Sometimes it comes to down to deploying certain tactics that makes your IT consultancy more of a household word. In many instances, if your original plan isn’t working out, it might be time to kick in a suitable Plan B.
Here are five ways your IT consultancy company can start shaking down trees for some low-hanging fruit while improving your track record for bigger projects and larger clients to follow.
Navigate with LinkedIn
As most of us know at this time, social media is a low-cost, high-return means of communicating with prospective customers. Out of the top three networks, because LinkedIn is business-focused, you should dedicate ongoing time there, fishing where the fishes are.
While Twitter and Facebook should still also be used, in most instances, they are more effective as a reinforcement tool in repeating your marketing message, then in obtaining customers directly.
Forbes contributor and social media consultant Joanna Belby says:
Learn how to do the advanced searches on LinkedIn and stick with it. Just like you did with cold calling. People spent an hour to three hours cold calling a day when they began. You didn’t get anything from calling for 15 minutes and then shutting your computer off, right? You did it every day, week in and week out. The same with LinkedIn. Commit to spending time to prospect every day and people will say yes to meetings. All without cold calling.
On LinkedIn you can conduct searches to prospect for new business. Searches allow you to find pertinent companies, their company size, titles, years of experience, connections and even what companies they are currently purchasing goods and services. The individual profiles of those company’s staff members will show you whether they are a qualified lead for your firm.
Share original content targeted to your client base – content that shows you and your company are thought leaders producing new material they haven’t seen previously. This could be in the form of blogs, videos, Q&A or heading up and engaging with groups, which target your business sector.
Once connected, communicate with them personally to start a rapport. Follow their posts, engage with them through comments, and if there’s something you can offer, send them a direct, personal message.
With the paid versions of LinkedIn, such as their Sales Navigator product, you can send more InMail to people are not existing connections. With a regular LinkedIn account, there are limitations to the number of connection requests and InMail messages you can send.
Start with a Small Project to Gain Trust
With IT consulting businesses, it’s often better to start selling small versus big. While it’s certainly gratifying to be pitching the large network installations and upgrades, it’s usually not the best place to start with a new customer, particularly if you are a small business in need of some initial successes.
Many IT consulting businesses find a much greater degree of success in selling something small at the onset, with a well-defined beginning, middle, and end. While the ROI might not be as great, it will stand “to prove” yourself with your new clients.
Using a low-risk scenario for the business owner, you can prove your worth at the early stage of your relationship and build from there.
While taking this approach, you should always bundle in a ‘support agreement’ with each one of your proving ground projects to leave the door open for future business. When talking about the parameters for a larger follow-up project, it’s incumbent on you to ask: “Have you thought about how you’d like to handle this new systems’ ongoing support and maintenance needs?” At which point, you’ll want to discuss the benefits and advantages of retaining your IT consulting business through your ongoing support program. Some features of your support agreement can be complimentary, while the more advanced support services can be sold at a discount to secure an ongoing revenue stream from each one of your proving ground client.
Differentiate Your Mobile Strategy
Smartphones today are mobile computers. For our on-the-go work-forces, our handheld-devices are substitutes for a desktop outside of the office. With the memory size increasing exponentially and the number of apps we are able to pack into our iPhone and Android devices — our mobile phones are the most immediate conduit to our customers.
With that said, it makes all the sense in the world to define a unique mobile strategy to differentiate your IT business. With competitors just a few clicks away, and knowing your business isn’t the “only game in town,” consider mobile as the gateway to your customers.
One way to differentiate your business is by accepting mobile payments, and supporting mobile payments as a managed IT service for your customers.
Mobile payment acceptance is a valuable business asset because its adds ease-of-access in conducting transactions with vendors and customers. In most instances, your clients are already familiar with using their phones to pay in-store and buying items online, either via a browser or app. Imagine getting paid on the same-day as a scheduled onsite visit, cutting the time and resources it takes for processing invoices on both ends.
According to eMarketer, mobile transactions are expected to exceed $1 trillion by 2017. In tune with this reality, businesses can deploy appropriate software to accept payments in all scenarios.
Support VoIP Services
SMBs are migrating their phone systems to cloud platforms on a globally massive scale, which is itself a huge marketing opportunity to cash in on. We’re currently on the uptick, and experts are predicting the global UC market to approach $100 billion in the next 6-7 years.
Choosing the right VoIP partner to include in your offering affects your strategy for attracting new business clients. With the constant evolution of applications and work trends, you want to be sure you can deliver your clients a platform that:
- can adapt with their business,
- constantly releases improvements and new features, and
- doesn’t lock them into hardware or contracts.
Before you partner, make sure the partner logo you display on your website is the right choice for your brand.
Ask for Referrals
An often-overlooked method of finding that new client is the tried-and-true referral system. As a business you will rely on your successes to sell new clients on your expertise. But don’t just brag about your accomplishments, continually ask your satisfied customers if they know of others who might also benefit from your products and services. You can do this with a follow-up letter, email, or phone call.
However, don’t stop there. The more you are able to convert your existing customers into engaged advocates for your company, the more they become an extension of your sales and marketing force. When you are able to have happy customers talk you up in forums, meetings on social media, etc., the more other prospective clients will have trust in buying from you.
To guarantee success, make this a win-win. Set up a loyalty program, where referrals can be rewarded gift cards, discounts off future billings, or a myriad of other offerings. Be creative and show your customers that not only do you appreciate their business but you also appreciate other potential business leads they can send your way.
In keeping with the idea of letting your customers help you sell, you’ll want to leverage the complimentary words of these new, satisfied customers. This can easily be accomplished through testimonial letters, audio/video interviews, YouTube videos, tutorials, and case studies. After asking your client for permission, consider posting these testimonials on your website, blog, and social media.
Ron is a blogger at Telzio, covering business, technology, and mobile trends. Previously a Director of Advertising and Public Relations at Marriott International, Ron has published several books including the award-winning graphic novel Facebucks.