One of the questions you may find yourself thinking as you grow as a managed service provider (MSP) is whether you should do sales training for your techs. It’s a good question because techs typically don’t make natural sales guys. Obviously, the answer should be an unequivocal, “YES”! But the real questions you should be asking are “WHY” and “HOW” do we train technicians to sell?
The “why” question has at least two answers. First, your techs are trusted advisors—this means their recommendations carry more weight than a salesperson’s. Second, your techs are more likely to be in front of your customer when the pain point or need is discovered, and as we all know it is much easier to sell at the right time than the wrong time. This is a very powerful why. From traditional sales models we know that timing is pivotal to closing a deal. Salespeople have to try and create a need or react to an expressed need. Often techs are right there as the need occurs, giving them a huge “right timing” advantage in the sales process.
The “how” question is more difficult. Technicians are by nature not your average outgoing sales people. The traits that make them focused and efficient at their jobs often make them less than ideal candidates for sales positions. So how do we harness the talents they do have in order to make them successful at selling?
Here are 6 tips to help you get your techs in the right mindset to sell:
1. Give them the data
Include them in what your standard client portfolio of services looks like and train them to look for gaps in services that could be filled.
2. Include them in quarterly business reviews (QBRs)
If you aren’t doing quarterly or semi-annual reviews with your clients, you should be! When you do these reviews, make sure you take a technician with you. They will be better prepared to answer technical questions and can act as a “sales engineer” in the QBR process.
3. Incentivize them correctly
Most salespeople are motivated by money. Sometimes techs can be a little trickier. You need to think of creative ways to incentivize your techs based on their personalities.
4. Get them around salespeople
In addition to QBRs, you should try and foster a spirit of camaraderie between your salespeople and techs. This can be done through combined sales contests or company outings-- anything that teaches them to work as a team.
5. Lunch and learns
Get your techs in front of your customers by offering technical training to their staff or explaining the latest technologies. Most techies like to share their knowledge with others. By using technicians in this way, your lunch and learns become less “sales presentation” and more consultative and educational. Using technicians, even if they aren’t polished speakers, can disarm customers because they get rid of the “salesy” approach.
6. Formal sales training
I would recommend training your techs to be “sales engineers.” Sales engineers are often the centerpiece of a technical sales organization. They answer the tough questions, design solutions for customers, and act as a trusted technical advisor. As your organization grows, I would highly recommend having a full-time sales engineer as a resource for your sales team. Until then, leverage the technical people you have to fill this essential role.
If you are like many MSPs that start small and grow, you will most likely hire a tech before a sales person. Therefore, train your technicians to sell and you will see your revenue grow. If you are a mature MSP with a sales team, leverage the technical knowledge and trusted advisor status of your techs to close more deals. In either case, or in the wide range in between, technicians can add a significant amount of revenue and profits by giving them a little training and incentivizing them to sell.
Eric Anthony is Sales Engineer Manager at SolarWinds MSP, before joining SolarWinds Eric ran his own managed service provider business for over six years.
You can follow Eric on Twitter at@EricAnthonyMSP
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