Without a doubt, “trusted advisor” is one of the most overused and misused terms in the industry. We’ve all used it at some point or another. It’s how we’ve pitched ourselves to potential clients, right? “Think of us as your trusted advisor,” we’d say. It’s how we’ve been carrying out business for many years, but it’s about time we change our approach.
As I’ve said before, the way we as IT providers conduct business with clients is changing. Clients are no longer looking to us to only solve IT problems. They want a bigger commitment. They’re expecting us to evolve with them in all business areas. They want something more than just a trusted advisor. They want a strategic partner.
First things first. How are your relationships with your clients? Be completely honest with yourself. Do your clients only turn to you when they need some basic IT advice, such as when they should upgrade software or hardware? Unfortunately, if they are, they’re not viewing you as a trusted advisor. Every IT provider advises clients on those areas of IT.
“But, Gary, my clients like me.” Yes, this may be true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your clients value your relationship with them as much as they could or should. Think about it this way: Maybe they just view you as an advisor, not a trusted advisor. There’s a big difference when you take a step back to think about it, and it’s your responsibility to close the gap for them. At TruMethods, we call the process of building a high-value strategic relationship with a client Technology Success. We call IT providers who master this process Technology Success Providers (TSPs). Are you ready to become a TSP?
If your answer to my question above is yes, then you’ve got some work to do, but that’s okay. Many of your peers are in the same boat as you. Remember the following: In the TSP model, the vCIO builds a client relationship that produces predictable results. Ask yourself a few key questions about your vCIO relationship with your customers:
- Do you meet with decision makers at every customer?
- Are you knowledgeable about the customers business?
- Do you understand their business strategy and the role technology plays in enabling their plan?
- Does invest at least 30% of MRR in non-recurring services?
- Do your customers see the primary value of your relationship as business value versus just technical value?
- Do your customers value the relationship enough to allow you to command a seat price greater than $150?
If you answered no to some of the questions above, your clients may like you, but they probably don’t value your relationship with them as much as they could or should. Don’t worry though; there are still plenty of ways for you to grow and thrive on the possibilities that await you. The good news is more SMBs are looking for higher value relationships, especially with their IT providers. View this moment of reflection as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with your clients, command higher seat prices and create a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This is all positive news for you.
Becoming a strategic partner is part of the Technology Success Process, which I’ve outlined in detail in previous blog posts. Start your journey to becoming a TSP by reviewing each of your customers and determine why they’re doing business with you. Evaluate how valuable you are to them. Saying you’re a trusted adviser or strategic partner doesn’t change your business. Building relationships is what increases your MRR.