Many times we will set up a meeting for a client and they will go to what they thought was a great meeting, only to have the opportunity die on the vine.  This is always a frustrating experience, and there are several reasons a good, qualified prospect just disappears.  Here’s one that I can share with you.

Making a major business decision can be overwhelming, exhausting and even paralyzing for an entrepreneur.  Most of your clients aren’t MBAs.  Sure, some are. But most are “accidental” or “lifestyle” entrepreneurs who have built their businesses to a place where things are starting to both come together AND come apart at the seams.  They haven’t quite figured it out yet.  They need more staff, or they need new technology, or maybe they need both.  You may understand this position very well yourself.  Think about that.  If  you are an emerging MSP, think about the challenges you are currently experiencing.  If you’re an estalished MSP, maybe you’ve worked all this out already.  These are the challenges you are supporting and ideally, removing.

Last year, I experienced first hand just how overwhelming making a major business change can be.  We needed to make a major change to stay competitive.  We needed to move to automated dialer technology to increase our  call counts and decision maker connects.  So I had a definite need (no one has ever cold called me to sell me technology, by the way) and I started where everyone usually starts.  Google.  And I called some of our partners and competitors to see what they were using.  It’s worth mentioning that we made the moved to hosted PBX the year before last, and I feel like I made a poor decision regarding our provider there – that made this decision even more crippling.  By the way, I NEVER click the highlighted ads at the top of Google.  Do you?  I’d be interested to know.

So now I have a list of let’s call it ten cloud-based contact center systems to evaluate. There are two things that are really important to me – call quality and ease of use.  There were secondary factors, but we need calls that sound clear, and we need a technology that makes it easier to make more calls.  Now, I begin the exhausting task of trying to schedule demos.  The first companies that got bumped off the list were the companies that made it difficult to get in touch.  If I had to fill out any kind of form before I could talk to someone, I just crossed them off the list.  If I waited longer than a day for a returned call, I crossed them off the list.  That left me with – believe it or not – four options.  Cost was not really a consideration in our decision, as we were already paying for multiple systems that this one would replace and everyone was priced within our budget.  Lowest provider was 50/seat and highest was 200.

Four providers, and four hour-long demos/sales meetings scheduled.  By meeting two I was sick of hearing about things that weren’t important to me.  By meeting four I was barely listening anymore.  Everyone brought out a list of features and benefits a mile long.  Everyone demonstrated things that I didn’t understand.  And everyone, even though they initially asked me what my priorities were, showed off all their bells and whistles, with no real focus on my very specific concerns.  Show me how clear the calls are, and show me how a rep would use it.  That’s all I asked you about.

Now my mind is full of things I hadn’t thought about previously, all kinds of things I now have to worry and wonder about.  So what do I do?  I shelve the decision for a while.  I have more to think about.  Had someone just shown me the things that were relevant to me, and skipped over all the other stuff, I would have made that purchase decision.  Now, I’m stressed about things I didn’t think about previously and my current provider – who I hate, but I at least understand – looks like a viable option.

And then the callbacks start.  Everyone who has shown me their system begins hounding me for a buying decision.  At first I answer their calls, but about a week in to this, I stop returning or taking their calls.  I haven’t made a decision, and I can’t honestly see how any one provider is better than the other.  I can’t stand the idea of having to sit through another round of demos, and I don’t want to make an expensive mistake.  So, I do nothing.  I stick my head in the sand and postpone the decision.  Thus, the Ostrich.

If your prospects are dying on the vine consider whether you’re the one pushing  them there.  Have you asked them what is really important to them?  Did you listen?  Did you tailor your presentation to those items, and those items only?  That will win you business.

You have all the time in the world to educate a prospect on how things work after they become your client.  You can demonstrate all the bells and whistles – in small, manageable, bite-size chunks – after I sign the contract.  I’ll be delighted that it does so much more than I thought, and feel like I’m really getting extraordinary value for my money.  Especially if you can help me find ways to become better at what I do and how I do it.

I eventually decided try all of the systems that offered month-to-month contracts to see which one we liked best.  That isn’t an option for a service contract, so you’ll have to be right the first time around.

Help your clients keep their heads above water and out of the sand.

Happy Selling!