Many managed service providers struggle with the sales and marketing aspects of running a business. However, sales is a pivotal part of the picture for any MSPs seeking long-term growth. Here are four easy tips to get you on your way to selling like a pro.
1. Build Expertise
There are two ways to build sales expertise: Hire someone with sales experience, or train existing staff to sell like a pro. If you are getting serious about sales and growth, hiring a skilled sales staff can make a big difference. However, many shops can’t afford to hire new employees just yet. If that is the case, MSPs need to identify and train sales representatives from within. Who knows, you might just have a sales rockstar within your reach already. Many shops don’t have the bandwidth to focus on sales, so one option is to get your technical staff involved in the sales process.
“We have dedicated sales people, but all of our engineers are part of the sales process as well because they speak directly with clients,” said Michael Patrick, Solutions Architect with Louisville, Ky.-based Mirazon. “They initiate the conversation and then put the client in touch with someone in sales to work out the rest.”
2. Select Your Team
Not everyone can succeed as a sales rep, just as not everyone can succeed in a technical career. Whether you are hiring a new salesperson or transitioning a current employee into a sales role, look for specific qualities that indicate they will be likely to succeed.
“You are looking for people that are confident, personable and embrace technology,” said Tony DeMarco, President of Ridgefield, Conn.-based CorCystems. “They don’t have to be technical, but they need to have the aptitude to develop a decent understanding of the technologies you sell.”
Andrew Hutchison, Senior Infrastructure Consultant at Blackpoint IT Services, agreed. “You want someone that understands the product and can ask the right questions.”
3. Invest in Training and Industry Events
Once you’ve selected a person who will be in charge of sales, training is essential, both internally and from outside sources. Attending industry events or meetings can be a great source of training, offering MSPs the opportunity to learn from one another. At Datto’s annual conference, DattoCon, 700-plus MSPs gather together to network, research vendors and learn from one another. Datto offers on-the-spot training and education from industry experts covering everything from sales and marketing to pricing and tech support. If you’re going to attend one event this year, DattoCon should be that event. Another great source for MSP training are HTG Peer Groups--quarterly small meetings of IT service providers. The organization also provides educational content via its website. The ASCII Group, another popular IT channel organization, hosts an IT SMB Success Summit event series that also features sales and marketing-focused sessions.
4. Develop a Process
The specifics will differ from business to business, but typically a sales process is a repeatable set of steps businesses follow to move potential clients from being a prospect to being a customer.
The stages of the sales process may include:
- Lead generation/prospecting: This involves generating and qualifying leads, often through researching potential clients, cold calling and inbound marketing efforts such as blogging and social media, attending networking events, etc.
- Initial contact: The goal of the initial discussion is to gather information about the company’s specific needs and further qualify the lead’s potential to become a customer.
- Technical presentation: This stage is the formal presentation of your company and the services offered. For new prospects, it may require you to customize the presentation depending on your answers to the business’s specific needs.
- Close: Closing the deal includes getting buy-in from key decision makers, negotiating price and signing a contract.
5. Track Progress Towards Goals
Tracking the progress of your sales--daily, weekly, and quarterly--ensures that potential opportunities do not slip through the cracks. Setting and tracking progress towards goals is the standard and most effective way to ensure sales accountability.
“In addition to tracking sales progress, we also meet weekly to discuss where each rep is toward their weekly and monthly quotas,” said DeMarco. “It’s all about accountability. Tracking and regular meetings provide support and structure to help sales succeed.” He went on to say that his sales goals are very specific—“think X number of calls per day, per week,” he said. “It’s like that saying, ‘If you can measure it, you can manage it.’”
To further help your growth, use a CRM tool to automate alerts for your sales reps and track progress toward goals. Tracking your activity will keep you on target and allow you to address any issues before it’s too late.
To learn more successful go-to-market sales strategies, check out this great free eBook featuring best practices from industry-leading MSPs around the country: Sales Made MSPeasy.