“Speaking to prospects or customers about things that don’t interest them means you are likely to end your sales cycle in the early stages,” warned Aris Demosthenous, training content manager at SolarWinds MSP, opening his address. “In contrast, going into a sale knowing who you are dealing with gives you a great advantage and definitely increases your chances for a second meeting.”
He added that knowing who you are targeting will also ensure you focus your marketing effort and lead-generation activities on the right group of companies with a message that will resonate well. He then defined the four main services being sold as:
Aris revealed that the two most important things to understand about your prospects and customers are:
The optimum business size to target was then defined as less than 100 employees because these customers typically do not have any internal IT staff. Aris divided these businesses into two distinct buying groups:
He explained that finding out which group a business fits into determines the relevant products and maximizes success.
Members of the first group have come to realize how important their network is to their overall productivity, and they understand that downtime results in real cost to their organization.
In contrast, the second group sees IT as a cost and is unwilling to invest in it. Aris explained that members of this group don’t yet appreciate the impact downtime has on their day-to-day operations, so they are typically unwilling to invest in uptime, which is essentially the point of a proactive or fully managed program. Instead, they prefer to buy what they need, when they need it.
“If you identify through your conversation that the customer’s network is mission-critical, then this customer is motivated by value,” said Aris. Consequently, they are looking for a proposal that provides ROI, which will deflect the downtime expense they have recognized as a soft cost to their business, making proactive or managed services most relevant.
Those prospects that don’t believe their network is mission-critical, Aris explained, are likely to be motivated more by individual need. If this is at the moment of need, it will be a tough selling them anything other than break/fix services. If it is focused on a particular need, usually perceived because of a recurring issue, then they are a prime candidate for an à la carte line item that meets this need.
Summing up, Aris said:
Targeting vertical markets
Aris pointed out that the above groups cannot be defined by typical demographics, explaining that this is why many MSPs choose one or more vertical markets for their main target audiences.
“Verticals afford us the opportunity of grouping like-minded customers into a list that we can actually generate or purchase,” he said. “You can target medical offices, non-profit organizations, lawyers, architects, engineers, and on and on… all the while knowing they are similar.”
Deciding on the vertical markets to target requires a range of key facts, including size, annual revenue, sensitivity to downtime, security sensitivity, key applications, and critical business services. Aris described knowledge about critical business services as particularly important, defining it as a business function that an employee or group of employee’s performs daily. To identify this, you need to establish what they do every day and how they do it, making sure you take all the parts of their business into account.
“Once you penetrate a vertical,” said Aris, “you have given yourself the opportunity for horizontal growth across the sector. As you start to be seen as the IT expert for a particular industry, you begin to see organic referrals come in from that sector, and you can start putting specific formal referral programs in place.”
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