Want better sales? Know 'what's important'

Marc Thaler

LONDON – When business coach Adam Harris used to meet potential customers, his parting gift was a piece of paper showing a partially completed grid. He listed in the first column all the services his company provided, and pointed to the remaining columns purposely left blank.

Harris encouraged the people he pitched to complete the checklist as they compared his company to competitors.

“It’s very easy to do, and you just give it to them,” Harris, the founder and director of Transmentum, said Monday during his MAX EU Customer Conference breakout session at the Hilton Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 hotel.

network-auditingCreating a checklist was merely a quick tip. Harris touched on a number of topics during his hour-long session titled “Five critical steps for selling managed services.”

For starters, Harris’ five steps include:

  • Establishing credibility – Provide evidence that shows you’re the go-to MSP.
  • Qualification – Identify their needs and motivations.
  • Presenting a solution – Demonstrate the value of your solution and why it's different from other options.
  • Presenting the price – Confirm clearly and confidently that you can meet their needs.
  • Signing the contract – Confirm that they understand what they have bought and collect the cash.

Harris also stressed the importance of defining your company’s vision, mission and values. Perhaps that seems like an obvious pointer, but you may be surprised.

“One of the biggest things for a lot of people is they don’t know where they’re going,” Harris said. “If you want to grow your business further, it’s important to know where you’re heading.”

It’s equally important to know what causes the bulk of customers’ problems. Harris said the majority of issues are directly linked to one, if not more, of these areas:

  • Cash flow
  • Growth
  • People (Companies often hire the “right” individuals, but place them in the wrong roles.)

Harris provided some other priority pointers. You need to know:

The customer’s pain points – In many ways, you’re not selling the product or service. You’re selling yourself as a problem-solver. Harris said the hardest thing to do is prove you can make the customer’s life easier.

“When you understand their pain points, you become the expert and the authority within that space,” Harris said.

Who calls the shots? – Harris said the decision-maker is the M.A.N., otherwise defined as the person with the means, authority and need.

“A lot of people wrongfully assume the decision-maker is the business owner,” Harris said. “But it might be the finance director, who needs to see the value before signing off.”

The industry is undergoing rapid change – Harris said the tech space sees as much change in one month as other industries experience in three to five years.

“Those that don’t change and adapt will either go out of business or get acquired,” Harris said. “The whole purchasing decision has changed. We need to understand what’s important.”