Turning Your MSP Into a Sales Machine, Part 4

Here are seven keys to successfully attracting and keeping star salespeople.

Channel Partners

January 25, 2017

5 Min Read
stack of money

Michael BarnesBy Michael Barnes

Transitioning from a managed IT services business built on referrals to a robust sales organization can be intimidating to many MSPs. Throughout this series, we’ve aimed to help you navigate the process, classifying sales talent, identifying the advantages and disadvantages of various levels of sales experience and sharing tips on how to find these individuals.  

But if one challenge is recruiting qualified sales personnel, perhaps an even greater one is retaining this talent after you’ve hired the right players. Now more than ever, very few sales people stay in jobs for long stretches, a reality that every business owner must accept.

How then can you ensure the long-term stability of your sales operation? By properly understanding what your sales team actually expects from you as an employer.

Provide the Tools for Sales Success

Contrary to popular belief that the best salespeople are high-maintenance complainers who are never satisfied, their criteria for an enriching and productive work environment are actually quite standard. Here is a short list to consider.

  • Respect: Salespeople view their business through a unique lens. They consult with people in stressful situations and express how their business benefit can alleviate specific pain points. As a result, sales personnel field ideas about improvements that can be made to enhance their company’s products or services. Ask for their opinions, listen to and consider their ideas and do everything in your power to assure them that their input is valuable. Some salespeople stay with a company for less when they feel they are instrumental to product innovation rather than just another employee.

  • Proper tracking tools and expectations: Everyone wants to track every activity to the “nth” degree. These profitability metrics, KPIs, etc. then supposedly help guide and drive business. What you may not realize is that many managers request an inordinate amount of tracking from their salespeople. By bogging down your sales pros with data-entry functions instead of letting them actually sell, you could be unintentionally pushing them into the arms of a competitor. Investing in competent sales assistance and help goes a long way in keeping your sales people content and committed.

  • Flex time: Salespeople tend to work more than you’d think. The perception that sales guys frequent the golf course may have some grounding in reality, but those same salespeople spend their Sunday evenings planning their week, boarding planes or hopping in cars early in the morning to make that meeting. That said, if a salesperson requires downtime for mental health or to spend with family, be understanding. Salespeople often break under the pressure of quotas and job demands. Helping them maintain a healthy work/life balance buys you a lot of goodwill.

  • Human resources: This is not about the department, but rather your technical support team. Salespeople in tech are often not technical themselves. They identify business needs and help clients make smart decisions based on those demands. Experienced and friendly engineers, technicians and network administrators are really what managed IT services salespeople sell. If your staffing doesn’t help them sell an unparalleled customer support experience, they will look for a situation that does.

Allow for Growth and/or Change

Even the most seasoned and successful salespeople welcome positive change in their work lives. If you believe your main hunter may be better suited for a farmer role, for instance, it might be worth making the switch. In addition:

  • Don’t get in a rut: When it comes to growing sales talent, flexibility and fluidity are key. Look to cultivate a dynamic company culture that fulfills your team’s career aspirations. Salespeople aren’t just motivated by paychecks. Like anyone else you employ, sales pros can benefit from different scenery or a new approach to stay fresh and invigorated.

  • Hire strong leaders: Is your MSP business growing and in need of more sales reps? First and foremost, hire a strong sales leader. Call them a sales manager if you must, but rather than manage, they need to lead. Sales reps will stay in their positions despite receiving other offers when they work for someone they respect.

  • Don’t hire micromanagers: These kinds of supervisors drive high-quality sales talent away nearly every time. Instead, identify sales leadership that prioritizes the welfare and development of the sales team overall. This hiring quality will unite the team, helping you retain more sales reps and elevate performance.

All in all, maturing from a referral-run business to a sophisticated, sales-powered organization is necessary in order to achieve unprecedented growth in 2017. Invest in your sales efforts by applying the tips and strategies explored in this four-part series, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more profitable operation in the new year!

Learn how to effectively convey the value of your managed IT services. Download Continuum’s white paper, The Managed Services Sales Imperative!

As Continuum’s director of partner engagement, Mike Barnes spearheads marketing programs designed to help Continuum’s more than 5,800 partners grow their business. Previously, Michael was senior channel marketing manager at Experian Data Quality, where he led the development and execution of go-to-market strategies with key technology partners. 

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