Selling Managed Services: Find & Listen to Decision Makers
In an economy of limited budgets and shrinking workforces, selling new services can be a tricky proposition. How can an MSP leverage the changing nature of how business is done as a value proposition for businesses to invest in new managed services?
Last week, Pam Avila, founder of the Sierra Summit Group and chair of the CompTIA Unified Communications (UC) Community, explored an interesting topic on the CompTIA blogs. In her post, Avila tackles the question “How Do You Know When a Customer Needs Unified Communications?” In answering this question, she quickly turns the conversation to the topic of communication—not the technology of communication, but rather who you need to talk to and the importance of knowing how to talk to them.
Avila points out that when you are working with a client and want to explore new opportunities (meaning opportunities to sell your services), it’s important to consider who is a decision maker in that organization. While there’s a good chance you deal primarily with an IT Manager, a Business Manager will likely have a solid understanding of the business’s key pain points. These may be issues that limit the business’s success.
Yet these issues may not even be readily apparent to the Business Manager if she isn’t aware there is a managed service that can solve the problem. So don’t wait for the organization to come to you asking for your service as a solution. By talking with this person, you are more likely to uncover new opportunities to make a case for your services and how they can improve the client’s operations.
Speak Less, Listen More
When you talk to a client, you need to listen. If, for example, you are providing UC services (the market that Avila’s post centers around), then you should find out if the business faces any specific pain points that a UC solution can address.
- Do the sales people frequently need to meet and share data remotely with customers?
- Do certain departments face any inefficiencies that leave the business less competitive than it could be?
Those are real issues. And your managed services could deliver a significant value that the business manager may see as justifying the investment. And a Business Manager might have access to funds that an IT Manager doesn’t have. (IT departments are often dealing with small budgets that are already accounted for.)
The IT Manager, who is likely focused on infrastructure and other IT issues, may not be aware of these process- and operations-related issues. This is why it’s important to foster a dialog with other people within the organization. Only then can you discover these new opportunities.
But equally important, you need to target your message at the audience you’re talking to. Your conversation with an IT Manager is going to be different than your conversation with a Business Manager. This is because they have different perspectives, different needs. When talking with a Business Manager, you will likely focus more so on features, user experience, and processes. With IT Managers, you’ll dig more into specs, configuration, and SLA details.
This is pretty basic advice that you’ll find in How to Win Friends and Influence People. But it’s important advice that applies to many disciplines, not just selling Unified Communications. Whether you offer remote monitoring, cloud storage, security, or BPM, there is a story to be told of how your service can fix someone’s problem.
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