November 19, 2021
By Ben Spector
Zomentum’s Ben Spector
Most MSPs are built on the strength of a technical founder who has earned a great reputation for being the go-to tech whiz, but when it comes to sales chops — not so much.
Nevertheless, these technicians often fill both roles and attempt to lead both the technical and sales sides of the company. It’s no wonder that sales get stuck; it’s not their comfort zone. But it can be.
I know this from experience, having run my own MSP for nearly a decade before selling it successfully in 2020. If you’re like I was in the early days, struggling to keep sales from stalling, there are a few simple things you can do.
1. Stop Thinking About Sales as Touchy-Feely
Salespeople are often portrayed as likeable, extroverted and charming — qualities that are not learned, but innate. This is likely one reason why selling seems challenging to those of us who prefer logic, causal relationships and concrete answers. In truth, the best salespeople approach selling with the same attention to detail as you approach IT service delivery. There’s a reason that it’s called a “sales process” after all.
2. Be Authentic
That said, you do have to interface with people even though you may find it easier interfacing with machines. Fortunately, a sales relationship is just like any other relationship — partnership, friendship or even marriage; if you aren’t yourself, then it inevitably will stall. Here’s why: The relationship can’t progress if there’s no trust, and there’s no trust if you’re not authentic, honest and transparent. So, go ahead, you do you: Demonstrate competence and confidence in your solutions to your customers’ challenges. That’s what they’re looking for anyway.
3. Study Your Prospect
Qualifying leads is a crucial step in building a healthy sales pipeline. Take time to study your potential customer upfront; it will pay off later by easing each subsequent step of the sales process. Plus, it goes a long way toward showing your attention to detail and your interest in your client’s business beyond monthly recurring service fees.
Firmographic data, such as geography, headcount and industry, is a good start, drawing a general outline of your prospect. However, to get a full picture, you need more data points. Seek answers to the following questions: What are their greatest challenges? Who are their current tech partners? Who are their competitors? What is the structure of their IT department? Is your contact the decision-maker or an influencer?
Pro Tip: Selling effectively is all about knowing your buyer, so don’t skip this step!
4. Stick to the Plan
Your entire sales process should follow a plan, or schedule, to stay on track. Document the process so that you and your team can repeat it and refine it as you learn what works and what doesn’t.
Following up at preset intervals keeps your deal moving forward and makes your customers feel more comfortable working with you. If prospects have to chase you to get answers, they’re unlikely to …
… select you as a partner. Conversely, calling prospects every day is equally likely to drive them away. Find a balance and stick to your plan. Remember as you take control of the sales process, you’re also building your customer’s confidence in your knowledge and dependability.
5. Customize Your Approach
While a repeatable process is necessary, you should also be flexible. Customize your approach to meet a customer’s needs according to the profile you built in Step 3. Clearly, the more you’ve studied your prospect, the easier customization will be. One simple way to customize your sales approach is by outlining how your solutions thrive in the customer’s industry using case studies or success stories.
Pro Tip: Over time, you can build a library of use case content to boost search engine optimization (SEO), traffic to your website, lead generation and sales efforts.
6. Listen and Learn
If you find yourself talking more than your customer, that’s a problem, especially in the beginning of a relationship. To truly address your client’s challenges, you first must fully understand them. Essentially, you must spend time as the student before you can become the teacher. Your goal is to be able to explain the customer’s problem better than they can. You’re the expert, after all. Just remember to balance your know-how with humility and a service mindset.
Pro Tip: Listen to understand, not to respond. Listen to serve, not to sell.
7. Don’t Give Up
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. This well-worn adage applies to sales in general but also to specific opportunities. If you don’t immediately win a deal due to client-side delays, or perhaps you even lose a deal, don’t shut the door on that opportunity completely. Instead, keep the door and the dialogue open and continue to act as a trusted adviser. When they’re ready or the next time they need help, you’ll be top of mind and well-positioned to win.
Ultimately, the key to stopping sales from stalling is to nurture them. Focus on this list of tips to go beyond quoting to building trusted relationships with customers that grow over time.
Ben Spector is an ex-MSP owner turned product manager for Zomentum, creators of the first Sales Acceleration Platform for the IT channel. He leverages his previous experience running a managed service provider (MSP) organization to shape Zomentum’s development road map. Spector spent nine years as founder and technical director for U.K.-based SpecTronics, a successful IT managed service provider, which he grew to support more than 100 clients and sold in October 2020. Following the sale, Spector was introduced to Zomentum while consulting with a London-based MSP on service delivery and business processes. After the first demo, he was so impressed that he joined Zomentum to become an advocate for the MSP community in perfecting a platform to solve sales problems for MSPs.
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