By: Josh Wachendorf on December 16th, 2018
Why Skipping Your Customer's Business Reviews Is a Big Mistake
Laurie McLevish, sales development manager at Print Audit and Education Committee member for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA), presented on the importance of business reviews at the BTA Capture the Magic Event in early December. I was lucky enough to be in attendance. Her presentation, which was based on the MPSA’s Managed Print Services Assessment Guidebook, really got me thinking about the practice of business reviews and how they can impact the success of our own dealers, positively or negatively.
As a sales rep myself, building and growing relationships with my dealers is something I take very seriously. Laurie’s emphasis on active account management through the use of, and commitment to, Periodic Business Reviews really struck a chord with me, especially considering the hyper-competitive industry we are all a part of.
Instead of thinking of business reviews as something to check off your to-do list, view it as an investment in order to solidify long-term relationships with each of your customers. Your commitment to creating an engaging and valuable customer partnership can mean the difference between keeping an account coming back with repeat business, and giving it away to your competitor.
What Is a Quarterly Business Review?
You’ve probably heard the acronym QBR. A Quarterly Business Review is a process which involves scheduled quarterly reviews, in the context of Laurie’s presentation, of the managed print solutions your customers have or could benefit from. In theory, every three months, the sales rep will compile and present a review of their customer’s current environment while identifying opportunity for improvements that could be implemented to reach an even better future state solution.
“But My Customers Don’t Need a Quarterly Review”
Whether you are in the managed print space, or provide another type of managed ongoing service to your customers, you have to be honest with yourself: You may know that you should be conducting these reviews, but are you? If you are conducting them, do you feel good about the job you are doing? Are you preparing, planning, and thinking about long-term strategy? And are you consistently conducting them for each and every one of your customers?
Your answer might be that you conduct these reviews for your large customers. On major accounts you agree these are necessary, but you may try to argue that the rest won’t find benefit in them. Maybe you know that they are beneficial, but you lack the time and feel a need to prioritize in other ways.
Laurie reminded attendees that, while a Quarterly Business Review may be overkill for some accounts, conducting a scheduled Periodic Business Review (PBR), be it monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually, is essential – especially now in the competitive environment we must operate in. Her point was this: Not conducting these reviews, or only conducting them for your ‘top’ customers, is a big mistake.
What is the Goal of a PBR?
Put simply, the goal of a PBR is to answer the following questions:
Where have we been?
Where are we today?
Where are we going?
A PBR should identify the future state environment for your customer, reflect on and assess the current and past states, and outline the necessary actions and implementation plan for arriving at the future state. It is a cycle that must be repeated each business period.
It’s important to note that answering the above questions is not only about being accountable to your customer. In fact, it’s just as much a sales and retention effort on your part. Conducting a PBR will position you to successfully and actively manage the accounts you hold, and here are few reasons why.
A PBR Will Help You to Grow and Protect Your Relationships
In the office equipment industry, print volume is declining and technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Throughout all of these challenges, the goal is to keep your relationship with your customer moving forward so they view your partnership as a necessary contributor to the growth and evolution of their business.
PBRs establish a cadence of regular, engaging conversations with your customer about their business and financial goals. This continual dialogue will create a shared vision between you and your customer of what the future state of their business will entail, and the role your dealership will play in it.
A PBR Will Help You To Grow Market Share
As office equipment dealers and MPS providers, we face an extremely volatile market. Examine your customer relationships – Do your customers rely on you as a trusted advisor? Do they come to you with questions on products and services, even beyond what they have purchased and are subscribed to?
If your customers aren’t coming to you with questions about other services or commodities that will help them grow or evolve their business, then there is a high chance they are asking another provider. And if they aren’t asking another provider, it won’t be long before other providers, offering new solutions, come knocking on their door.
We all sell more than one product or a single solution. We have broad portfolios with a variety of equipment, software, and solutions. You need to be able to grow that wallet share with your customer in order to continue adding value and to create stickiness in your relationship with them.
A PBR Will Help You Uncover New Opportunities
Through the practice of conducting a PBR, you’ll find areas where you can cross-sell and upsell solutions that will make your customer’s life easier. By committing to a set schedule of meetings that keep their best interests top of mind, you’ll become more than just a managed print provider, or the dealership that sold them their copiers.
Instead, you’ll become a trusted business adviser. By developing a true understanding of the business challenges your customers face, you become uniquely positioned to layout a comprehensive plan that will help them overcome these challenges through the solutions you offer. When your customer adds four new employees or is expanding into a new location, you’ll be one of the first to know about it. By interjecting yourself into their business on a periodic basis, you’ll be top of mind and ready to expand and evolve with them as their business continues to grow.
Whether you do commit to holding periodic business reviews with your customers, or you don’t, you will be impacted. The market is changing at an extreme rate and the landscape is more competitive than it’s ever been. Investing in your customer relationships is critical. Committing to a process for delivering periodic business reviews will help you do just that, so build them into your process and set the expectation with your sales reps. If you don’t, the ties that bind you to your customers may soon begin to weaken.
To learn more about BTA, or the MPSA, check out their websites:
Josh Wachendorf is a Vendor Relationship Manager with GreatAmerica Financial Services. Josh supports Independent Office Equipment Dealers by offering financing solutions and value-add business services to help dealers differentiate themselves, close more sales and build recurring revenue streams. Josh has been with GreatAmerica since 2008. Josh enjoys spending all of his spare time with his wife and four children.