Before starting to plan a launch campaign, Stefanie Hammond—senior channel sales specialist, Major Accounts at SolarWinds MSP—said in her presentation that first it’s important to choose the leadership team, deciding who will oversee the marketing activities driving leads into the sales funnel, and who will be responsible for the sales aspect.
Whether this is carried out internally or with external help depends on the structure of your company. It should also involve building a thorough training schedule once the sales process has been defined, together with setting achievable targets and a fair compensation package.
Stefanie also recommended giving the launch team access to a CRM or PSA tool, which they should keep up-to-date with the new client and prospect information that flows in from the various sales and marketing activities. This is key to monitoring which strategies are working and evaluating overall campaign performance.
The pre-sales and post-sales process then needs to be determined, said Stephanie. This starts with defining your target market by building a profile of your ideal client, then setting minimum requirements and sticking to them, such as:
“These minimum client standards help avoid difficult client situations by providing the freedom to turn down clients that aren’t a good fit,” explained Stephanie.
She added that setting client criteria in this way provides guidance on the overall sales and marketing message, and in turn advises what marketing activities to invest in. However, it was emphasized that no single activity will drive leads, but rather a consistent and concerted effort through regular and ongoing outreach, using various methods to help build your brand and awareness in your marketplace.
In contrast, Stephanie said sales should involve a series of daily activities that are very targeted and deliberate to help further this brand awareness, whether cold-calling, warm-calling or networking, and should go hand-in-hand with marketing to help fill the sales funnel.
Before activating the full campaign, Stephanie recommended contacting between five and 10 of your best clients to discuss your new offering. This tests out your approach by encouraging and acting on honest client feedback, helping hone the proper launch, from messaging and sales tactics to target businesses.
These might be existing T&M clients, hardware or project clients, or clients that are part of another line of business your organization is involved with. The aim is to create a ‘HOT LIST’ of your most valuable clients to reach out to first, and then build subsequent lists of warm clients to pursue afterwards: the equivalent to defining A, B, and C prospects.
With the soft launch complete and the campaign and targets adjusted accordingly, Stephanie said it’s time to launch an outbound call (lead generation) campaign so that account review meetings—aka business analysis meetings—can be booked to see if there’s a good fit between the prospect and your new offering. Typically, this is done by a salesperson, with the business owner conducting the initial meeting with prospective customers.
Stephanie emphasized this first meeting as a stage setter, rather than focusing on closing the deal. It should discuss the prospect business and introduce the new offering. Useful items to take along would include:
These items add a key element of tangibility to managed services, explained Stephanie, adding that carrying out a security and network assessment early in the sales cycle is also crucial. This will deliver a better understanding of the prospect’s environment and uncover any issues early on. It will also help collect the empirical data needed to justify the value and benefits of managed services, enabling any future objections to be dealt with in an informed way. Stephanie also pointed out that as you’ll be doing several such assessments, using proper assessment tools and automated reporting is key.
In preparation for the completed security and network assessment, Stephanie recommended having a good templated sales proposal in place that includes your assessment findings, ROI analysis, and past spending analysis to help justify your proposed managed services solution. “And, as I know you are hoping to begin closing deals ASAP,” she added, “you will want to have your client contracts finalized and vetted by your legal representative.”
With a new managed services customer signed up, Stephanie said it’s vital to begin onboarding, starting with preparing a folder, including:
She emphasized the importance of the final point, explaining that regular visits help address any issues early, add key value, strengthen the relationship, and build crucial trust.
Stephanie summarized by saying that carefully preparing for the launch of a new offering in the way she had outlined will not only maximize campaign performance, but also help to forge long-term relationships with new and existing clients.
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