April 21, 2015
By N-able Guest Blog 2
What sets a managed service provider (MSP) apart from the competition is not just having great products and a good technical team. A well-developed sales strategy is also crucial. By improving your sales strategy, you can fast-track your way to new profitability and growth. What do world-class MSPs do to stand out in the market, year after year? Take a look at these five tips for cultivating a winning sales team:
1. The Sales Funnel
A winning sales strategy begins with the sales funnel. A good lead generation program will include a mix of activities that all flow toward your end goal of making a sale. Fill your sales funnel with referrals, speaking engagements, print ads, cold calls, newsletters, partnerships, affiliation programs and more. Pick a few methods that work well together before adding more to avoid burnout, redundant efforts and miscommunication. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different combinations to find out what works for your specific needs. Also, keep in mind that every sales campaign is different–what works for one might not necessarily work for another.
2. Set Measurable Goals
Sales is a numbers game. If you send enough emails, make enough calls and have enough meetings you will be successful, right? Not quite. Without setting goals that you and your sales team can achieve on a short- and long-term basis, how will you know who is successful and who isn’t? The goals you set with your team should be realistic and achievable so the team can continue to improve the efficiency of calls and make more sales. Instead of focusing just on the quantity of sales calls made as a way to measure sales success, add in some improvement metrics so your sales team can realize goals in a meaningful way.
3. Know Your Customer
Managed services isn’t just a technical sale; it’s a business sale. Failure to address your small to midsize business (SMB) customers’ pressing concerns in your sales pitch results in slower uptake and disappointing outcomes. Listen to your prospects, do your homework upfront, and take the time to understand what their goals are and where they need help. Focus your communications on helping your customers grow their business, not just on how great your business is, and they will be more inclined to listen to what you are saying.
4. Sell the Right Services at the Right Time
Generating recurring revenue and acquiring new customers are two sides of the same coin. You need new customers to generate recurring revenue, and you can’t generate more recurring revenue without new customers. The key is to be flexible: Sell exactly what the customer wants and needs as a managed service. Stay informed on the latest trends and technologies by reading industry trade journals, white papers and more. If you can provide the specific services that your customers want and need now, you will prove your value and build a great relationship.
5. The Automation Game
By reducing the cost of delivering managed services, an MSP immediately improves profitability. Automating as many standard, manual IT tasks as possible is key to reducing costs. The challenge is to automate the right types of routine tasks to realize new efficiencies, achieve a systematic approach and improve technician productivity. Consider updating patches, resetting passwords, running defrags, application deployments, performing asset management, updating software on employees’ systems, managing endpoint security and regulatory compliance, and rapidly auto-discovering all network and systems across the infrastructure. Once you’ve automated appropriate tasks, this frees up time for your team to concentrate on making sales.
Success in sales, like everything else in business, doesn’t happen overnight. At N-able, we advise our partners that building a world-class MSP practice takes ongoing teamwork, discipline and a continued focus on customer priorities. And when your customers come first, everything else falls into place.
Mike Cullen is senior vice president of Worldwide Sales and Business Strategy, N-able by SolarWinds. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly and are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship.
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