1. SELL YOUR SERVICES
Using a traditional sales approach to “close” a client on your outsourcing development services is an easy way to start a relationship on the wrong foot. Essentially, it’s a bad idea to convince a prospect that your firm is the best option to provide software development services without doing your homework. Don’t start a partnership business to grab a logo; it’s counter-productive. Guide the process towards a knowledge-based exchange.
Do you have the services? Of course. Is this outsourcing IT project the right fit? You need to figure that out with the prospect and your team.
In Unosquare’s promotional model, almost every team member - from our engineers to the C-Suite - is client facing. Depending on the needs of a prospective client, someone, anyone, may be called upon to discuss our services related to their role at the company. However, the team is not selling anything at this point. This stage is the “discovery” effort that is intended to find out as much as possible about the prospect and their needs. If you are doing all of the talking, it is impossible to learn something that could be vitally important to the relationship.
A step-wise, pragmatic approach to sharing as much information as possible about your services and success is a team effort and it begins with candor about what you can actually provide. If you have an expert understanding of your services and have knowledgeable counterparts to support your information gaps, you are off to a good start to interpreting requirements appropriately for a development team and client stakeholders. Getting the client and the development to communicate over well-constructed, fundamental requirements will help to ensure a strong start to the relationship.
2. GO IT ALONE
While one individual can carry a productive conversation, do your best to paint a complete picture of the skill set of your company by showcasing its talent and accelerate a prospects comfort with your firm’s culture. What this means is that you need to get experienced colleagues involved in your early meetings with prospects.
Use the feedback from the experts you have assembled a comprehensive knowledge of the potential customer’s business. If you’ve read “The Challenger Sale,” this may sound familiar to you. However, I still don’t like looking at this process as a sale. After over 20 years in sales and sales management, my experience on what supports a strong start to a relationship with a customer is that your approach needs to be a group effort of shared learning and experiences. Take advantage of the talent around you and showcase your colleagues by matching skill sets to those that will be part of the early stages of negotiation.
The research done up to this point needs to tell you more about the party or parties interested in your services. There are plenty of tools of which you can take advantage, and you should not fly blind into your first interactions with a prospect. Whether it be social media, LinkedIn, or a simple web search, find out key details about the prospect themselves and their firm. But, remember, to assume nothing. Confirm what you have learned. Even if your research wasn't entirely accurate, the effort to learn is typically appreciated and well received and can open the door to more historic insight you hadn't considered.
What is your new contact’s role at their firm? What type of work history do they have? Once you have this lined up, find a colleague that has a similar history to join your meeting. Gathering software development experts for support is exceptionally helpful on meetings where all signs point toward the call being “technical” and need the insight of a skilled engineer or other software development professionals.
You also create value for additional research and coordination by adding additional perspectives. Recap the conversations with team members to get more than your own interpretation of how things are progressing with building a new relationship. Share these perspectives with the development team as you move closer to the kick-off of a new project.
3. LET THE PROJECT MANAGE ITSELF
Your job is not done simply because invoicing has started, you need to keep an eye on progress. Of course, as an account manager, your job would be to do just that. However, those team members who helped move the prospect to an active client should be aware of how things are going. So, should the rest of the firm.
The Bus Factor is not so morbid of a thought as it is a practical notion of making sure that you have contingencies in place if something were to change with yourself or your team members. Record as much detail as possible in an ERP or CRM and make sure that more than one person is aware and involved with keeping the project “healthy.” At Unosquare we have a process for managing this proactively, but this is a format designed over years of experience and important lessons learned.
Provide updates to the firm as the project matures and share everything about your client and the challenges of the project and their industry. Work to keep everyone feeling as though they are in the trenches with the development team and help your company get smarter by recording and sharing lessons learned and important milestones. Each of these things will set up your current and next client for success in Agile staff augmentation.
If you have any comments or questions please let me know. Thanks for reading.