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10 worst sales tactics of IT outsourcing companies

Stephanie Overby | Dec. 12, 2011
If IT service providers make New Year's resolutions, our experts suggest they finally retire these tired and tiresome sales practices.

4. The Old Bait and Switch There must be a secret outsourcing sales handbook that says if you want to win business, you need to bring a Very Important Person to the first meeting. Problem is, the customer will never see that big shot again and will feel mislead. Indeed, the sales team often implies that the star they trot out will be integral to the customer's service delivery. "In reality, this same group of A-list players is being promised to multiple potential customers and will be assigned to whoever signs first," says Mark Ruckman, outsourcing consultant with Sanda Partners. Alternative for IT service providers: Take that effort misspent trotting Ms. Big out for the dog-and-pony show and bring a real-life customer instead. "There is no more powerful marketing than what an existing, happy client can say about you," says Herrera of HfS Research. "Fly them first-class and put them up for the weekend at a great resort nearby. Sit your customer down in the middle of the room and let the prospect ask questions."

5. I'm the [Fill-in-Your-Industry-Here] Expert When Sanda Partner founder Adam Strichman worked on IT services sales teams, he acquired different titles based on the prospect. "One week I would be introduced as part of the retail team. The next week I was part of the dedicated financial [services] team," Strichman recalls. "Industry specific knowledge is usually 85 percent marketing. When delivery time comes around, almost every worker bee is from a centrally managed team that supports every client." Alternative for IT service providers: Smart buyers can see through this facade. Becomes an actual expert by ask them smart questions about their biggest business problems and coming back with valuable solutions.

6. Let's Make a Deal & Until the Lawyers Arrive "We've worked with a number of outsourcing providers whose sales teams work diligently to develop fair and effective customer agreements only to find that these hours have been wasted when their legal departments unravel the contracts by reworking key business terms or adding new [ones]," says Pace Harmon's Tanowitz. There can be a real disconnect between what's agreed to verbally and what ends up in the contract. "On no less than three occasions over the past 24 months I have thrown back contracts in their entirety, not because I didn't like the terms, but because 85 percent of the contract was essentially irrelevant to the services which were discussed prior to that point," says Strichman of Sanda Partners. Alternative for IT service providers: Collaborate with your lawyers to define terms and work out negotiating options. And know your own business objectives well enough to figure out what you can—and can't—offer customers.


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