Think about your favorite client. That one who you love to work with, who you enjoy receiving communication from, and who never causes you frustration or hassle. Now, imagine if all of your clients were like that one. Great, huh?
Well, believe it or not, you can actually create a business where all of your customers are “ideal clients.” But in order to make it happen, you might need to change the way you think about growing a managed services business.
Is there such a thing as an ideal client?
The thing is, each MSP business will consider an ideal client to be something different. While for one business, a client who has only a few endpoints to manage could be seen as boring, another MSP will enjoy having more control to support their growth, or moving at a slower speed. If you hate last minute requests on a tight deadline, you can guarantee that for another MSP, that’s their favorite kind of environment to work in, high-pressure and high-reward.
That’s why your first step is defining what an ideal client means to you. Look to answer questions such as:
- Do I enjoy working with large corporations, or small businesses?
- Is there a specific industry with which I like to work?
- Do I want to lead the strategy, or follow instructions?
- Are my favorite clients the ones who take risks, or play it safe?
- Am I better at forming close personal relationships in business, or keeping things professional?
- Are regular, scheduled meetings such as a monthly review a good thing, or does ad-hoc communication suit my style more?
Shifting your world-view: not all clients are good clients
Once you know what you’re looking for, you can form an internal checklist that you can use when you have a discovery call with a potential client. Do they work in the right industry, do they have the right communication style, are they looking for the type of services that your business excels at?
This is a powerful paradigm shift from the idea of “all money is good money.” For many MSPs, getting *any* work is a good thing, and they have built up their business over the years by saying yes to any potential client, worrying about whether they are a good fit later, or perhaps not at all.
If you’re honest with yourself you probably know that it doesn’t work. Clients who frustrate you, or whose working processes don’t align with your own end up taking up much more time and resources than those who are naturally an ideal fit.
As you spend so much time convincing them or arguing with them about changes or best-practices, they actually stand in the way of you taking on better clients, those who value your contribution and are happy to pay for your services. And you can bet that if you aren’t happy, the client probably isn’t leaving you any 5-star reviews either.
Every time you take on a client who doesn’t fit the template of your ideal client, you’re taking a step back. It can be tempting to say that you don’t have a choice, or that you need the money, but remember this: the potential dividends of waiting for the right clients are worth much more than the short-term gains of saying yes to the wrong ones.
Change doesn’t happen overnight
Once you have made a commitment to only taking on new ideal clients, you’ll need to be patient, as Rome wasn’t built in a day! An ideal client strategy can take time to come to fruition, and at first you might feel like you have less work than feels comfortable.
Here is where you focus on attracting those ideal clients. If you’ve identified what niche you want to work in, channel time into marketing for that industry. If you know that you’re looking for clients who are open to taking risks on new technology — form partnerships with third-parties who can offer those services when they are requested.
You can also speak to current “ideal clients” and get their input. Ask them how they make their buying decisions, and what prompted them to choose you as a solutions provider in the first place.
“People make purchases in different ways” comments Forbes, in an article on how to find the ideal client. “Some purchase impulsively. Some take the time to research, read reviews and look at alternative options within the market. It’s important that you know the purchasing habits of your ideal client so you can ensure they have the right resources there to make a purchase.
If, for example, your ideal client purchases impulsively, ensure that you have a website with a card payment facility. If your ideal client likes to research and gain assurance from other customers before they invest, then ensure you have an online facility where people can leave reviews and feedback.”
Your ideal client is out there. Will you have time for them when they arrive?
Your ideal business is within your reach, filled with clients who make you happy to go to work each day, and feel proud to have you as anIT solutions partner in their own success. These ideal clients are more likely to be loyal, tell their friends about you, and the natural fit will make communication and management a whole lot easier for your business, too.
If you’ve been marketing your business as “perfect for everyone”, it’s time to switch that question around and ask honestly — is everyone perfect for you? If the answer is no, spend some time on defining your ideal client, and take the first step towards a business that serves just that category to see your own exponential growth.
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