Five Keys to Succeed as a Service Provider
An interview with Mark Podgainy, Managing Director at Getzler Henrich & Associates
Mark Podgainy knows it’s not easy to succeed as a service provider. Unlike a product, he says, a service has no tangible value. You can’t touch it, feel it, or directly experience its benefits. That means you must do a lot more than simply provide great services to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive environment.
Few are better qualified to advise on how service providers can do that than Mark Podgainy. He has more than 20 years of experience working with struggling and underperforming middle-market firms as an advisor and a management team member. He has spent most of that time at Getzler Henrich & Associates, a New York-based management consulting and financing advisory firm.
I recently had the chance to talk to him via Zoom about what he has learned about how service providers can succeed in today’s economy. He provided five key lessons.
1) Be Prepared to Ask the Right Questions
It might seem obvious, but it’s also a lesson that all too often gets forgotten in the excitement of a new engagement. “I remember early on in my consulting career that I was really eager to show potential clients that I knew my thing even though I hadn’t been at it for very long,” he said.
“One of my mentors said you don’t have to try so hard. When you’re asking the right questions, people will understand how insightful and thoughtful you are, and it will come out in the conversation.”
Listening is critical for service providers because it helps them get inside their clients’ heads. It also allows them to build trust, which is essential to cultivate in any relationship, he said.
“If you’re listening 90% of the time, then that is a successful interaction,” he said.
“When you really listen, it actually stands apart from other people, and you gain a lot of insight, and it helps you be better able to solve problems, resolve an issue or take something to the next level,” he added.
3) Seek Relationships, Not Transactions
Podgainy stressed the importance of service providers building long-term relationships with their clients rather than making it all about transactions.
“It’s a marathon,” he said, “your mind is set on finishing the race. You are going to have some milestones along the way. I think of those milestones as transactions.” He added that if you focus on developing strong relationships with the right people, “there will be transactions along the way. But the relationship doesn’t necessarily end there.”
4) Enjoy the People You Work With
Podgainy stressed that when you enjoy the people you work with, it makes everything more fun.
“I think ultimately it’s about enjoying the process,” he said. “If you like the process that you’re going through, then you are going to be more thoughtful about all the things that you do around it.”
“When you meet someone for lunch, not every lunch is great, but the point is you’re enjoying the process, and people see that. You enjoy being with them, and I think that is critical to all of the things that we do,” he added.
5) Narrow Your Focus
Podgainy said that in today’s economy, it is essential for service providers to focus on what they do best and stay away from the rest. He stated that asking the right questions has helped him focus his efforts and figure out what he needs to accomplish.
“The answer to those questions enables you to ask other questions and be able to target your sale. If you have a cannon approach to the sale where you try to hit everything, you are going to hit nothing,” he said.
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By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect