I ate lunch with one of our clients (a local HVAC company owner) last week and he started asking me questions about ongoing support and service. “Why don’t your systems automatically update like what’s available at Best Buy?” he asked. I explained our warranty program to him and told him about our service and support options. “What if I didn’t purchase a support plan?” he queried. I asked what would happen if he installed an HVAC system in my house, and I didn’t pay to have it serviced regularly. He gave me a wry smile.
I’m guessing you have clients like Mr. HVAC. Mr. HVAC expects that he’s purchased the equivalent of a pet rock from your integration business. It’s always going to work and never needs any service or support. Mr. HVAC will continue in his delusion and hold you accountable for it unless he’s calibrated properly. Here’s the rub. Calibration is uncomfortable. It requires you to acknowledge the underlying unreliability of the technology solutions that you install. See… you’re getting uncomfortable right now.
Our technology solutions break from time to time. We know it, clients know it, everyone knows it. The successful integrator leads with this acknowledgement and uses it to build trust and confidence in your ability to be there for the client in their time of pain. By pointing out the elephant in the room, you eliminate common scenarios between clients and integrators where you find yourself pledging oaths of uptime to your client that you have no business making.
If you and the client both acknowledge the cold hard facts of system unreliability, all that’s left is to create a strategy around what to do WHEN things go wrong instead of debating IF things will go wrong.
Since you’ve now moved the client to acknowledge the underlying flaws in technology reliability, you’re now shoulder to shoulder with them instead of across the table. You and the client are staring future pain square in the eyes and planning around it.
As you begin your pain planning with the client, it’s a great time to talk about what you’ll do to alleviate their pain. Talk about your support program. Do you offer after-hours support? Can clients email or text you anytime? Whatever you do that you’re competitors don’t will set you apart.
Here’s an example of pain acknowledgement and planning:
Me: “Lisa, we just talked about your new media room solution. It’s got Bravo HD, sounds amazing, and the remote control is super simple. I’ve got bad news, though.”
Lisa: “Oh?” (puzzled)
Me: “Yes. This system will break next year sometime. You’ll pick up this remote, and it won’t work. There’s nothing you and I can do about that. It’s going to happen.”
Lisa: “I know it.” (nods in agreement)
Me: “It’s going to be at the worst possible moment; you’re going to curse my name and remember this conversation. I do, however, have good news. You’ll be able to call us anytime or use this app (opens self-service app) to reboot the system or email support.”
This conversation actually happened last week between me and a client. I’ve decided to lean in hard on this concept. None of us should be ashamed to get system service and support out in the open as early on in the sales process as possible. Set yourself apart and watch your sales grow as a result. No other industry apologizes for their systems needing support and neither should we.
Stay frosty and see you in the field.