It’s frankly surprising how many Nearshore companies are making the same common mistakes when hosting potential clients, mistakes that can easily be avoided with efficient and comprehensive preparation.
Before you whip out that haphazard schedule of slideshows and presentations, check this list of 8 deal-breaking mistakes to avoid when hosting out-of-towners.
1 – Overscheduling
Nothing annoys prospective customers more than being presented with a jam-packed schedule with no room for maneuver. Too many activities on the list can become overwhelming, so make sure to allot more time than you need for tours or meetings to avoid rushing around — and don’t forget coffee breaks and lunches.
Furthermore, keep travel to a minimum and think about the shortest time and distance between locations. For instance, don’t take visitors somewhere near the airport in the middle of the day, only to return to the city center a few hours before they have to leave.
2 – Hand-holding
There’s an assumption that clients are naive babes in the wood, or not very well-traveled. While this is true in some cases, don’t assume that clients want their hands held the entire duration of the visit.
Be proactive. Reach out to your prospects to get an understanding of their worldliness and experience with travel. Find out if they’d like to wander around and explore, or would prefer to be holed up in the hotel for the whole trip. Adjust your approach to suit their comfort levels.
3 – Failing to provide un-scripted time with lower ranking team members
Executives are experts when it comes to presenting their company’s achievements, but, in BPO and IT services, most clients will be more interested in how the general population of staff operates.
Provide some time in the schedule for clients to casually chat with agents or developers on the floor. Customers want to understand every aspect of the company, not just the data points and growth projections.
The more sophisticated, next-gen software and BPO companies are more adept at exposing outside parties to their culture. They’ll want to sit in on scrum meetings and get to know the different teams, but, if you have an uptight, strict culture, clients will also pick up on that.
4 – Not setting up meetings with people outside the company
Prospects are eager to get multiple perspectives on the country, destination, and company itself, so provide some chances for meeting a variety of professionals that can testify to the lay of the land you have presented.
A great approach to this is to ensure the client visit happens when an existing customer is also around. This gives them a chance to hear feedback and testimonials from people you already work with, straight from the source.
5 – Making them sit through hours of long PowerPoints and slideshows…
…and then reading out the text on the slides, word for word. This is HUGELY detrimental to your reputation, especially if you’ve shown them these slideshows prior to the visit.
If you must prepare a presentation, make it short, snappy, and entertaining. Use videos and images to get your points across, not blocks of text. Clients also want strong data (see point 6 below) that is new to them, so keep your facts up-to-date.
Preferably, condense the information you want to share into a well-presented PDF document, and hand it to your clients on a branded USB stick. This works as a nice gift and ensures none of your effort is lost in a haze of boredom.
6 – Serving up incomplete or out of date data
Hard and current data in key categories will determine possible partnerships, especially in the areas of talent acquisition and labor law. Failing to have access to this data will turn your clients off quickly.
Before inviting clients to your operations, ensure that you are collecting data on a persistent basis – it should be a corporate practice.
It’s common for vendors to hold information on the labor market, costs, and where to find good people, but some of the more convincing data should focus on benchmarking your country against the other choices.
7 – Responding slowly and inefficiently in the build up to the event
When communicating agendas and logistics, be prompt and reliable with your replies.
Furthermore, include all the necessary information in ONE email, not several. When a client is traveling, they want to have one point of call for everything. This includes:
- Flight times, airline, and terminal numbers
- Ground transfer details, including exact pickup location in the airport
- Hotel name, address, and details of inclusive amenities
- Two contact names and numbers (in case one is unavailable)
- Schedule and agenda for entire visit
The last thing you want is a client arriving stressed because they couldn’t find any of this information in the barrage of emails you sent them. One document. No more.
8 – Not providing downtime for recreation or other “off-hours” activities
While the main purpose of the trip is business, don’t neglect the importance of relaxation and soaking up the local culture.
Many of your prospects may never have visited your country, so include a block of time on the agenda for something more enjoyable, like a guided tour of a local distillery, or some margaritas on the beach.
This also helps to build a more friendly rapport with your prospects, and you may find they become more open to the idea of doing business with you.
What common mistakes do you see vendors making when hosting prospective clients? As vendors, what approaches do you take when inviting customers to your countries? Sound off in the comments below.
Also, check in on Thursday June 28th for the next installment of our Corporate Coaching series – Why Your Nearshore Business Needs a Brand New Website.
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