Sales is an area where many managed service providers (MSPs) often struggle, not just in terms of the physical act of selling, but also knowing how to hire the right person (or people) to do the job. Sales people are good at selling themselves, which can mean that MSPs who aren’t sales savvy can find it hard to see the forest for the trees when it comes to hiring.
Here are four key steps to help you work towards getting the right sales people in place, and getting the best out of them when you do hire them:
Preparation is key to building a solid sales team. You need to look carefully at your market, and understand exactly who your target audience is and who your typical customers are. You should also segment your existing customer base to find verticals and similar patterns. When you do this, you may discover that your business works across too many areas for one person to manage, so you may need to look at hiring more than one sales person. You also need to decide whether you want your sales person/team focused on new customer acquisition or upselling/cross-selling within your existing customer base.
These are all questions you need to ask to better understand how to structure your sales profile, how to hire the right person, how to manage that salesperson, and how to drive maximum opportunity. The more detailed you are, the more it will help you understand the attributes of the salesperson you are looking for.
You need to have someone you can manage by metrics—someone who can manage a sales pipeline, work towards a quota, track results, and be able to report back. But to do this effectively, both parties must have a proper sales model in place, so everyone knows exactly what quotas and metrics they are working toward.
You need to ask yourself some important questions up front, such as:
This last point is something that will be key as you expand your team and support the DNA of the team.
You also need to think carefully about how you keep their leads fresh. Salespeople need lots of opportunity or they will feel they are spinning their wheels and calling all the same leads without success. Consider buying lead lists, or driving them from local business groups or associations. Social media can also be an invaluable source, so ensure your salesperson is comfortable using avenues such as LinkedIn.
If you get a good salesperson, retaining them is critical. Most salespeople are “coin-operated,” so having a good and clear commission program in place will help you drive the behaviors you want—providing you know what those behaviors are.
It’s essential that you have a structure of offerings that your salesperson (or team) can easily understand and present the value of to prospects. Having a highly customized offering could get you into trouble, as salespeople will potentially oversell, undersell, or just be confused as to the real value of the service you offer. And while we’re talking about value, you need to ensure your salespeople have business acumen as well as good IT knowledge. While you may be able to focus on a technical sale if you have an internal IT contact to sell to, when you’re selling managed services to a company owner, it’s a business sale.
Training is also key here. Regular work with your salesperson (or sales team) will keep them up-to-date with what you’re doing as an organization, what is happening in the market, changes you may be making, and what new offerings or capabilities you have.
The final stage is about data and reporting—this is not only for you at the management level, but also for your salesperson/team. They need reporting and data, too; they need to be able to track opportunities, pipeline, stages of a deal, compensation, etc. You need to ensure you have the infrastructure in place to support them and the analytics both will require.
Want to find out more about how to manage your sales? Then watch the latest MSP Institute Business Training webinar, where David Weeks, senior global sales manager for SolarWinds MSP, explains everything you need to know.
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