Identify If Your Lead Is The Right Fit For Your Company
The first call with your IT prospect is where you are going to discover everything you can about the lead and ask them qualifying questions that help you identify their pain points. The answers to these questions should also indicate whether or not they are a good fit for your company.
While it is important to make a good impression on your first contact, it is equally important to qualify the prospect and gauge how they would behave as a customer what the opportunity would truly consist of. This is easier said than done, because finding the right balance between being “likable” and fact-finding is not easy to do.
Qualifying Questions To Ask IT Prospects
To help with this process, we have developed a series of questions that allows you to get the most out of your initial conversations:
What is your biggest technology problem?
Your lead most likely has something to get off their chest that prompted them to contact you. Let them get right to it without interruption. This is the perfect way to break the ice and bring the conversation directly to their pain points.
If they don’t have an immediate technology problem, then the problem might be with the relationship they have with their current provider. It is best to get this cat out of the bag immediately so that you can position the conversation in a way that allows you to immediately “side” with the prospect.
How long have you had this problem? Have you tried fixing this problem before (by yourself or with another IT Provider)?
It is important to know how long a problem has been lingering and whether or not it’s been swept under the rug. This is a good indicator of how well this customer conforms to standards and what the potential is for them to put off resolving issues in the future. It also serves as an indicator of how severe the problem might be at this very point in time.
Issues left unresolved in favor of “workarounds” could potentially blow up into massive problems. These are the landmines that it’s important to discover immediately, as the prospect likely won’t share this information until you ask.
What is prompting you to fix this problem right now and not before?
It is admirable when a prospect commits to addressing an IT problem, however the motivation behind their actions may vary. It could be possible that they are getting ready to grow their company and feel as though they need to address these underlying issues before doing so.
Or the opposite could be true. Their issues could have become so severe that they are hurting the prospect’s business and they need to be resolved before the damage is too great to overcome. These answers will tell you a lot about the state-of-affairs at the prospect’s company and will help you to avoid boarding a sinking ship.
How many endpoints does your company have and how many are affected by this problem?
The quantity of endpoints a company has is a major indicator of the potential opportunity that the deal will have. In fact, this question is almost so obvious that it can easily be left out of the conversation (mainly because company size is usually publicly available information).
Some verticals (such as the manufacturing industry) might have a lot of employees onsite but not all of them work from a device under management. For example, a manufacturing plant with 100 employees might only have 20 workstations that they need to be covered. Asking for this information up-front makes it clear what their needs are so you can supply an accurate quote.
How many service requests does your company submit each month related to this problem or others?
One of the biggest variables of cost in the IT Industry is the volume of tickets that come through a company’s service desk. When a customer has urgent issues that result in an abundance of help desk tickets, it immediately eats up resources and accrues labor costs. If this happens too often, you can easily find yourself in a bad contract that loses money on a monthly or yearly basis.
Getting usage estimates up-front will allow you to price services more accurately and it gives the prospect a higher degree of accountability should their forecast be inaccurate. If the customer claimed they previously submitted 25 tickets per month and they actually submit 50, then an increase in rate might be justified. Without asking, you will not have this kind of leverage should you need adjust terms based on utilization.
How many of the service requests are onboardings? How many are offboardings?
Onboardings and offboardings (if not automated and/or documented) can often require up to an hour of labor per request. It’s important to always know how many of these you can expect to receive on a monthly basis. This is also a low-key way to estimate the growth trajectory of the company.
If the company is frequently adding employees, then the contract has potential for future increases. On the other hand, if the company has a lot of onboardings AND offboardings, they might just have a high churn rate. This is a bad sign and should be looked at as a definitely red flag for customer fit.
How many employees are involved in the chain of approval for this project and/or service agreement? Are you one of them?
One of the most frustrating situations in Sales is when you spend a lengthy amount of time working with a prospect, only to later find out that they do not have the ability to approve purchases. It is important to be frank in asking this question up-front, as it should change the way that you approach the deal from that point forward.
For example, if you aren’t going to be able to speak to the approver directly at any point in the process, it is important to make sure that you include more explanations and supporting documentation with your quote. This way you are not only relying on the initial prospect to relay information and potentially cause a miscommunication that could hurt your deal.
Are you currently under contract with any other providers? If so, have you expressed your intent not to renew?
Scenario: You are courting a prospect and think you almost have the deal won, when suddenly you find out that they can’t break their current contract without paying a hefty cancellation fee. If you have sold Managed Services for awhile, you might have had this happen to you before.
Prospects typically wait until the last minute to approach their existing provider to cancel services. Unfortunately for you, sometimes this is too late. Auto-renew clauses in contracts often require a cancellation notice to be given weeks or months before the end date of the contract. If the prospect doesn’t comply, they could find themselves in a lose/lose position, either having to pay a fee or stay with a provider that they don’t want.
What is your ideal start date for the project and/or service agreement?
This final question is one of the best ways to sniff out the “window-shoppers” and “tire-kickers”. If the prospect hesitates to give you an estimated start date, then it means they are probably not at the point yet where they are seriously considering it.
Had they decided that they were ready to hire an IT provider, then they would have likely formed a date in their head as to when to coordinate this. Those who are serious, will gladly give you an estimated date. They will want to make sure that you have resources available to handle their onboarding and initial projects, making it a smooth transition for their company.