There’s simply no substitute for the novelty factor in order to generate an “Aha!” moment in whatever you do. Developing a practical sales approach is no exception to this golden rule.The “free IT assessment” line has been in use for a while in order to sell MSPs. That no longer produces an “Aha!” moment for your potential clients. It is critical to think of something new. Here are some useful cues and tools identified through our rigorous research.
The Need to Design a Robust Sales Process
Let’s get one thing clear first: MSP owners, almost without exception, are IT experts. Sales may not be their forte. Does that mean you need to hire a sales expert in order for your business to grow? Not really.
Think about it from a different perspective. Human beings are born sellers, all of us. Some of us are better at it, of course, but we all have the potential to hone our sales skills.
When, as a child, you managed to get your parents to allow you those 30 minutes of extra TV time, you’d sold something. Even if you cried your way to success, you’d sold them your tears, so as to make a good bargain in the process.
When you wrote a personal statement that got you admission to the college of your dreams, you’d sold your knowledge, articulation, and persuasion skills. If you’ve ever had a job, you successfully sold your skills to the organization that hired you.
All through life, we have several transactional relationships. In all those relationships, we sell something. We negotiate. We drive bargains. We emerge victorious in many of them and lose in others. That’s life, and that’s sales as well: win some, lose some.
So, we have it in us to sell what we want to. It’s just that we give different names to different kinds of sales. Sometimes we call it “advocacy”, for example. When it comes to selling your MSP, these same skills need to be identified and channelized – that’s all.
This is where the need to design a robust sales process comes in. The skills are the same.
They just need to be organized differently, as the relationship with your client is different from the other transactional relationships in your life.
Here are some basics to remember:
- As an MSP owner, you don’t want to be a one-time vendor selling a single item. It’s a change you wish to achieve for an extended period of time. You want to be a long-term problem-solving business partner for your client’s IT-related issues.
- Determine your price according to the value of your services and stick to it. Don’t negotiate your pricing. That will give your potential client the wrong idea.
It will help to master the art of describing the full range of your services in two to three minutes.
Further reading Frequently Asked Questions About MSP Pricing
- Think of your services with a problem-solving approach. Identify the specific solutions you can offer to the most commonly experienced problems.
- However, this is not enough. Identify what is unique in the solutions you offer. That is what will generate an “Aha!” moment for your client. There’s no escape from this one. You have to have a competitive edge – something that sets you apart from your competitors.
Further reading How MSPs Can Design the Bundle in a Simple Way
- Share your firm’s achievements and successes. Make sure that you have some existing clients willing to act as a reference for you. Inviting your prospective client to speak to an existing one is a winner.
- Remember job interviews? The final decision always takes references into account. However, that will happen only when you have already made a good enough impression. The rule is the same.
Further reading MSP Sales Guide
The Sales Funnel and Its Stages
So, we are saying that you have the skills you need to sell your MSP. However, how do you do it? What was that one stroke that clinched your argument as a teenager for the right to return home at a later time?
The problem is, we don’t remember. So, we rack our brains over and over again: how do you generate that “Aha!” moment for your potential client? We’ll take you from sales to marketing here.
Do remember the fundamental difference between marketing and sales at this point. Also, focus on the essential connection between the two.
Marketing is more about understanding your customers’ needs and developing products accordingly. Selling is about convincing the clients that your products meet their needs.
So, marketing has to precede sales. This is where the funnel approach comes in. Just think of the shape of a funnel. The funnel approach to marketing and sales is all about starting broad and narrowing it down in order to get the job done efficiently, without wastage.
The top of the funnel, its broadest end, is about marketing. This is the awareness stage. It can happen in two ways. One possibility is that you become aware of prospective clients and their needs. It could also be that potential clients become aware of your MSP and the services you provide.
The next stage in the sales funnel is the interest stage, which involves a smaller number of potential clients. That also can happen in two ways. From your side, it means the clients you identify as more likely to be interested in your services. From the clients’ perspective, it implies those most likely to contact you for more information.
Further reading Marketing Strategies for Growing MSPs
One important point to remember is that the awareness stage for potential customers can happen through your website, too, if you have one. Whether visitors will convert to the next stage of being interested clients who contact you depends on the strength of your website.
The third stage in the funnel is the most critical one: the decision stage. From your perspective, it is choosing which clients to focus on from among those interested. From the clients’ perspective, it is which of the interested ones choose to proceed further and negotiate with you.
This is the stage where you must generate that “Aha!” moment for the clients, in order to take them to the final stage of action. This is where marketing converges with sales, and your persuasion skills get tested the most.
The final stage of the funnel is the action stage. This is where the client’s company acts on hiring your MSP for its IT needs. However, your task as an MSP owner is not over. Remember, in your business, it is not about a one-time sale. It is about long-term relationship building.
Further reading MSP Sales Funnel Guide
The Sales Pipeline and Its Role in an MSP’s Continued Success
The sales pipeline is another useful concept to grasp for successful MSP sales. A sales pipeline is an aggregate representation of all the individual sales funnels of potential customers. The sales pipeline gives an overall picture of the total number of deals in the process, and the stages they are at.
The sales pipeline also reflects the financial volume of each of those deals. Additionally, it shows you the average percentage of leads that reach a successful deal closure and the average time taken from lead generation to deal closure.
Therefore, the sales pipeline is a useful visual tool for strategic planning in sales.
The Role of CRM
Moving your clients along the sales funnel is easier said than done, of course. Your customers are human beings, with minds, knowledge, and will of their own, not some inert liquid that you can pour through your funnel.
Some clients might drop out of the leakages between the stages in your funnel. Worse still, some might clog your funnel by moving back and forth between stages or staying at the same stage for a long time.
That is where digitally designed customer relationship management (CRM) plays a critical role. Remember that a smart CRM system is also your opportunity to impress your potential clients with your uniqueness.
As an IT expert, you can think of your CRM system as a tool to generate that “Aha!” moment for your potential clients. Chatbots, for example, have emerged as an effective means of addressing leakages in the sales funnel. You could design your own unique CRM chatbots.
Apart from that, an efficient CRM system can reduce the time taken from lead generation to closure. It helps salespeople reach their targets faster by automating certain actions, and keeping up-to-date data readily accessible.
The Role of Sales Staff Training
However, the virtual world has still not overtaken the value of live human contact. People often prove far more effective than platforms, no matter how efficient your CRM system is. This makes the training of your sales team members critical.
Apart from learning about the services you provide in depth and detail, your sales team must have practical communication skills. Training is the only way to ensure that.