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August 29, 2015
By Sonya Meline
Just like a nice loaf of bread, even the tastiest sales strategies get stale. Whether you’re offering a new T-1 line or saving the day with a cloud solution, as an agent, VAR or MSP, you must think of yourself as in a sales role. Clients need a compelling reason to pick you, and your services, over others — today they have plenty of choices. Reaching your target market requires creativity and consistency.
So what are you doing now that takes the cake?
Even the most sales-minded channel pro needs fresh ideas, so I asked some top agent partners, sales pros and MSPs just what they’re doing lately to generate more dough.
1. Carve out a new slice of the pie.
Jason Brooks, CEO of Beanstalk Computing, an MSP in San Diego, says his company once only warmed up to leads from companies with five to 50 employees. Brooks’ new sales strategy is to open the door to a market he was not capable of servicing before cloud — those with 50 to 200 users. “Try getting away from the traditional IT model with certain clients,” said Brooks. For example, maybe you can bring in a cloud services provider that will take over many of the daily IT helpdesk-type duties, freeing staff up to sell more innovative and higher-margin services. “This way, we continue to improve our profits without the need to increase the size of our team and infrastructure,” said Brooks. Local organizations, like small business groups and the Chamber of Commerce, and industry networking groups, like BNI, are all great ways to get connected to clients who need your help.
2. Get right to the burning question: “Why?”
Michael Bremmer, founder and CEO of Telecom Quotes, says to listen to your customer, but don’t immediately answer questions like “Do you run on XYZ platform?” or “Can your product do this?” by saying, “Yes, Mr. Customer, yes it can, and we’re the greatest!”
Instead, try, “Well, I don’t know. We’ve done that for other customers, but I want to make sure I understand exactly what you want to accomplish. Can you tell me a little more about why you asked that specific question?”
And then? “Shut up, and let them answer,” says Bremmer. “This technique will set you apart from 99 percent of the others out there, [and you will] look smarter and understand your customer better.”
3. Bake it special.
Ikika Kimura, a territory manager specializing in the Pacific region, works to carefully tailor his messages to the customer. This builds trust. “You have to consider who you are talking to,” he says. “In Hawaii, for example, organizations are very cautious about doing business with companies off the Islands. In this market, or in any market, it is important to be deeply respectful of not only the business’ goals, but the culture surrounding each and every client.”
4. Craft a phrase that captures your mission.
“We help you get from here to there,” says Jeff Davis, director of The Davis Group, which works with the real estate vertical. “I use this one all the time. It lets the customer know I am here to help them get what they want.” All too often, words escape us, and that’s when having a carefully crafted phrase, stored on the shelf for just the right time, can really come in handy.
5. Add some zest by putting your ideas on a tablet.
Here’s one from me: For technology-industry people, it is far too rare to find an agent or MSP that has a visual marketing strategy that involves, well, technology. A well-crafted keynote or PowerPoint presentation can really pack a punch when you are able to get it in front a decision maker. Check with your vendors, as many offer ready-made presentations tailored specifically to your client base. Be sure they co-brand it for you.
6. Eat your own pie.
If you’ve been around the channel for any length of time, you’ve heard the phrase, “eat your own dog food,” but that didn’t quite fit into this theme, so pie it is. Seriously though, if you are using the products and solutions that you’re selling, you have a much better chance of understanding the little details — like possible set-up issues, key features and quirks in how the service department treats clients. Knowing exactly what you’re selling may be the secret ingredient to closing the deal.
“People are afraid of making an investment in a new solution,” said Benjamin Gayheart, president and founder of Effortless Office. “It takes time and commitment to try out a solution for yourself, but agents who dedicate the time to ‘trying before buying’ gain a dramatic increase in profitability.”
Sonya Meline is a consummate organizer, group facilitator, and motivator with an entrepreneurial flair and a passion for sharing the tools for success with others. She currently champions marketing for several companies. Originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sonya has had an interesting and varied career, which includes starting and growing her own California coffee shop joint venture franchise; consulting as a professional corporate organizer and efficiency coach; working as executive assistant to motivational guru, Tony Robbins; and serving as executive assistant to the Command Master Chief of a Texas naval base. During her tenure in the U.S. Navy, she helped fundraise over $100,000.00 for the 9/11 fund, and was distinguished as a recipient of the Presidential Service Award. Contact her at [email protected].
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