The Place

Brew Merchant: Brew Merchant is a new shop that specializes in finding local craft brews around West Michigan. And not just any brews – Brew Merchant seeks out the most interesting and hard to find beers and ciders, the kind that you can’t find at the local store. They provide an indoor area to grab a beer, and unique growlers if you find something with a great taste and want to bring it home with you.

The Interview

Kyle Blackport: Kyle is president at Blackport Solutions, which is, in Kyle’s own words, “A boutique IT consulting firm specializing in network connectivity.” Primarily specializing in phone and internet services, Kyle’s company works with Michigan businesses to find the right data solutions and upgrades that businesses need to keep on growing.

Your Team Needs to Teach You, Too

This is especially true in the IT business, but it applies to all entrepreneurs everywhere – the people you work with are likely already specialists and have experience in areas that you don’t really know. It’s important to tap into this experience, and there’s one really easy way to do that: Ask them questions! Learn the details behind the solutions, the right terms, and everything else you can. This is particularly important when running your consultation business, because partners and clients will expect you to literally know what you are talking about, and be able to understand what’s going on even if it’s not your chief skill. Don’t be afraid to expand your knowledge!

Consultation Is About Understanding the Entire Organization

If you are in the consultation or client services business, there is a curious issue that comes up – the gulf between upper management and the rest of the employees. In most cases, there’s a moment where it’s very important to ask, “How are your employees feeling about this? Is everyone onboard? What are some common concerns?” Sometimes the goals of the business leader are quite different from the feelings of their employees, and you need to know both sides to plan for an appropriate rollout, the right tools, proper training, and so on. This is also important to remember for your own business, as you start growing and adding more employees.

Learn How to Make Things Simple

Again, this is particularly fitting for an IT business, but it is an important point for any entrepreneur who is talking to clients. It’s very, very important to make things simple for those who are making buying decisions. A big reason why is the internet. It is just full of outdated information, outright lies, and dubious marketing. Clients often walk away from their own research more confused than ever. It’s important to help them out!

Always Try to Contribute

You might not think the final client decision is the right one, and you may try to push ideas that are never adopted. This happens a lot, and it’s okay: But you should always try to contribute at least your own suggestions for improvement, no matter how much you may disagree with the overall idea. This is also true in a team setting – everyone needs to contribute their own ideas and concerns to make the process flow smoothly.

When in Doubt, Listen More

When you are in the business of selling services or products to clients, one of the most important things you can do is take time to listen to them. It’s a great choice when you aren’t sure what else to do, too! Diagnosing a problem requires paying close attention to what people are saying, and where they want to go.

Sometimes, helping out your clients comes down to, “You are doing a good job, and you just need a little help following through.” At other times, you may say, “It looks like you need these services, but we don’t provide them. These answers are okay! As Kyle found out, sometimes truly listening to a client’s concerns and being honest with them is the key to getting a contract with that business a month or year down the line. In other words, it’s really hard to go wrong with this strategy.

To learn more about Kyle and where the world of data consultation is heading, take a look at the full video!

 

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