David Weeks, senior global channel sales manager at SolarWinds MSP, began this presentation by explaining that if you aren’t managing and supporting your sales team effectively, you won’t be maximizing the potential of your business, pointing out that doing this starts with the hire. “Many MSPs struggle with this,” he said, “but you can’t manage a sales team properly if you don’t have the right people in place.”
“Salespeople are so good at selling themselves that recruiting the best talent can be a real challenge,” said David. He recommended starting by building a profile of the market and the typical customer your new recruit will be targeting and engaging with, plus their position in the sales funnel. Then you can piece together the knowledge and experience you’re looking for. You need candidates, whether internal or external, who know the market and ideally have a track record of dealing with customers within this specific sector.
David added that it’s also vital to employ people who will be easy to manage. They need to be comfortable with metrics, able to manage a sales pipeline, as well as adept at tracking their results and reporting back. He added that today social media is key, so any suitable candidates need to be at ease with LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other relevant channels, which are increasingly the first port of call for potential customers.
From the recruiter side, David said it’s important to have the tools in place to give the talent you’ve recruited the best chance to do their job. “Programs/service offerings must align with expectations, be productized for ease of sell-through, and meet the demands of customers and prospects,” he said. “And don’t forget to provide access to the appropriate and best data, coupled with a good CRM and reporting system if appropriate, to drive lead generation, cross-selling and upselling. You then need to train the internal teams across the whole organization thoroughly on these processes.”
From this point, David said, you are now ready to start developing the sales model. He pointed out that it’s critical to give your team all the support you can, such as working deals with one or more of them, because an owner/executive in a company can bring a lot of weight to closing a sale. He also recommended setting achievable targets to maintain drive and motivation, as well as realistic expectations in terms of calls and contact throughout.
“With lead generation and management, it’s all about the sales funnel,” he said. “The more that goes in the top, the more will come out of the bottom.” At the top, if supported by inside sales/cold calling either by the sales person or a dedicated inside rep, David suggested that you should be striving for 1,000 dials a month, or 40 per day. If the team is performing well, you should expect to see around 75 leads out of those contacts made, which should generate about 15 on-site meetings. Generally, around 12 should go ahead, achieving a 20-30% close ratio.
David explained how success rates will depend to some extent on the type of offerings. “For instance, selling à la carte AV or backup may have a higher success rate as the initial investment is lower than say a fully managed program that will have a longer sales cycle or more potential objections, etc.,” he said, adding, “This funnel also incorporates similar activities for upsell and cross- sell, but the existing relationships mean these leads should flow much easier and have a higher close rate in the 35-50% range.”
Once you attract the right sales talent, David said it’s important to ensure you retain the best people. Paying your reps accordingly, for example, will reduce transient salespeople coming and going from your company. “Continue to push your team,” he said, “but remember to reward them when they succeed. Finally, David underlined the need to implement a regular training program, not only to keep them up to speed with market trends and hone existing skills, but to add value to our team, driving loyalty while boosting performance.
Summing up, David said, “Know your numbers, know your success and failure rates. Continue to review and improve your sales model as needed. Your sales reps have a target and you need to hold them to it, but also hold yourself and the organization to that target as well. You may be the business owner, but you are also the head of sales.”
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