Guest Blog:  Tracie Orisko, President, Managed Sales Pros

I am onsite at Ingram Micro One in Washington, DC this week meeting with our partners and prospects.  One of the things that has always differentiated Managed Sales Pros from their competitors is our commitment to engagement and education in the channel.  I go to the shows that you go to, to learn how to sell what you sell – from the same people you learn from.  You can rest assured that your message and brand are secure with Managed Sales Pros – we know your clients like we know our clients!

Today I had the pleasure of sitting in on a talk by Kirk Robinson, Ingram Micro’s Chief Country Executive for the US.  Here are my take aways:

Ingram Micro is making some bold statements from the stage today, and one of the key themes at IMOne this year is “growth”.  Kirk stated today that “None of your companies were started by leaders saying ‘We’re going to stay in our comfort zone and be cautious’.  If you’re not having that ‘Oh, crap!” moment, you’re setting the bar too low.”

What does that mean for entrepreneurs – both emerging and established?  Well, for one, it’s a wake up call to all of those established businesses that have become complacent in their success.  Success is fleeting if you’re not constantly driving yourself to do better.  As the channel changes, companies who think and act differently – companies who innovate – will thrive. Companies that rest on their laurels may be left behind.  If “this is how we’ve always done it” is your company mantra, it’s time to get back to your roots.  Why did you start your business?  What do you love about it?  How do you go back and recapture the enthusiasm of your former “startup” self?

Well, Kirk’s suggestions are pretty clear.  Before you innovate, you “go out of your way to know your customers.”  This is essential for several reasons.  One, if your current customers aren’t going to stay with you, you are going to work a lot harder to maintain your current revenue.  If you’re thinking complacently about your business, are you also complacent in your approach to customer experience?

At Managed Sales Pros we offer an approach to outbound customer satisfaction surveys that has one goal, and that is to identify “who’s loving you, and who’s leaving you?”.  It’s a great way for you to continually check on the health of your client roster, and offers companies the chance to really understand their customer base.  You can execute a fantastic customer satisfaction survey in-house if you have time and people – and I can’t stress enough how important knowing who your raving fans are will be to your ongoing success.

Referrals and cross selling/up selling is your fastest route to higher, more stable revenue.  Take this one step further – identify who’s happy, and why they’re happy. Now ask them what they want to achieve in the next five years, and start helping them plan for their success – this is how you’ll learn what your “next big thing” is.   It’s great that so many new vendors are popping up with exciting options for your clients – but unless you know what your clients are interested in doing, you’re not going to be able to build a “stack” that’s going to appeal to them.

The alternate approach to this is deciding what your offering is going to be, and then exclusively targeting only those clients that are going to be attracted to and share your vision for that approach.  Not a terrible idea, as being an expert in one thing drives sales much faster than being everything to everyone.  Which approach are you going to take?   You can adapt to keep your current clients, and you can adapt to attract new ones.

As Kirk said, “Nothing great happens in business without thinking ‘What can we do differently?”  I encourage you to make a list of five clients that you know are delighted with you, and five clients you may be in danger of losing.  Reach out to those clients (schedule a formal appointment, don’t just assume they won’t need to think about it a little!) and ask them what they want for the future – from you as a service provider, from their businesses, from their partners.  Let your customers voice guide your approach to change, and you can find the balance between comfort and innovation for your IT company.