One of the top issues managed service providers (MSPs) face when making a sale is they like to focus on the technology, not the business impact (i.e., the results and the savings the services will bring to the prospect).
Unless you are looking to augment an internal IT team, managed services is 100% a business sale. When MSPs try to make it a technical sale, they tend to fail because managed services is intangible—it’s not a piece of hardware that you can point at and discuss technical differences with other hardware. It is about ensuring a business’ needs are met in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
As pricing strategies change in the market place, MSPs are being forced to evolve how they sell. How many prospects do you talk to who don’t have an IT budget? For the most part, this is because they don’t know where to start with IT, and they don’t understand all the components of services required, such as day-to-day management, monitoring, project work, etc. So, what should your process look like in order to overcome these challenges?
Before deciding on a sales process, it is best to know who you are selling to. Understanding the ideal prospect is where many MSPs struggle. How do you define your target market or ideal prospect?
One proven method is to look at your existing base, and work out who your best customers are. These are the guys you want to build your model off. On top of this, ask yourself, are there any verticals you have experience with that you might be able to target further? Moving into specific vertical markets will take time to penetrate, but once you have, they are very lucrative. Generally, it’s not recommended to have too many verticals, but having two to three, maximum (and preferably one if you can), will help you standardize your messaging and support structure.
Once you have your target markets/profiles, it’s crucial to ensure everyone within your organization also understands this. Everyone needs to be on the same page as to who your ideal customers are, how you target them, and why you chose that profile. This will help to drive your marketing and content creation in a way that maximizes your effectiveness. An easy way to build out your sales strategies is to talk to your existing ideal customers and identify critical information, like, why do they do business with you? Why did they buy from you? What do they feel is the biggest value you bring?
Whatever your sales strategy is, the fundamentals at each stage still hold true:
The findings from this latter stage then get translated into business value to allow you to develop your proposal and define what level of service offering is required.
However, looking a bit deeper, you can see that the assessment phase is very important because this is where you start to define what solution is the best fit for the customer. Between what you learned from listening to the customer in your initial meeting and what you learned from them during your assessment, this is how you can identify which program to target them with.
Your job is to identify the best fit for your prospect, and gain their trust by showing you understand their needs and are looking to solve their problems. Try to shy away from providing an optional sale, whereby you lay out three or four different options and then work with them to choose one. When you do this, a prospect naturally moves to the lower to mid-range option and you may end up not meeting their needs. By giving them the choice, you have basically given a nontechnical buyer a technical decision to make. They will most likely choose incorrectly and the result will be you not supporting them the way they need you to.
And don’t revert to talking technical; you need to remember that a business owner/decision maker does not understand technology in depth, which is exactly why they took the meeting with you in the first place. They know they need technology to run their business, but what they really want to know is how you can support the business drivers behind it.
Remember, you are the trusted advisor and expert; from the stages of the sales process, you should be able to define the prospect’s best option and show them why your suggestion meets their needs. This is the ultimate goal of building your sales process. No matter what your process looks like, you need to build it around achieving this one goal.
Find out more about this topic by watching our MSP Institute Business Training webinar, Building Your MSP Sales Process
David Weeks is senior global channel sales manager at SolarWinds MSP.
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