A Leak in the MSP Talent Pool? 4 Ways to Find Good People
As Joe Panettieri wrote in a recent post, good sales talent is hard to find these days. On one hand, it’s good to see people in our space having that kind of problem — I think we’ll all take that over managing through layoffs. On the other hand, it is a problem, and a vexing one for many MSPs trying to grow right now. For those in that position, I don’t have any quick fixes. But I do have four suggestions that I hope will help you find, recruit, retain and promote the right talent.
1. Know Who You’re Looking For
The only thing that’s worse than not having enough sales talent is not having the right sales talent, so it’s critical start with an understanding of who you need to hire.
Many emerging service providers are trying to transition from a history as a VAR. Making this transition has fundamental implications for the sales organization. Ultimately, it takes a different kind of sales person. A sales person at a VAR can be successful by having a transactional approach: quickly defining specs, selling product, and moving on to the next deal. For a service provider to succeed, a different kind of salesperson is required.
Recently, one our customers put it much better than I could. Noted Kevin Crowe, director of managed services at Long View Systems:
“To be successful, sales people at service providers need to be more consultative and more patient. This is not about a transaction—it’s about a relationship. This is about building trust, and you build trust from doing the right thing. In some cases, the right thing might actually mean walking away from business or doing a much smaller transaction because you know it is the best thing for the customer in the long term. The sales people we’ve found to be successful understand this dynamic.”
In addition, sales reps need to have the expertise to understand the client’s technical environment, their challenges and opportunities, and knowledgeably guide them toward the optimal systems and services for their business. Successful sales reps need to really listen to the prospective customer, understand their requirements, and be committed to helping them find a solution.
2. Happy Employees: The Best Recruiters
When it comes to attracting and retaining the right employees, happy employees can have a multiplier effect—representing the best way to attract qualified new talent. In this regard, it’s important to view employees like clients: they need to be willing to act as a reference for your business. Whether when out at lunch, on vacation, on the train, etc., they need to be telling positive stories about your business, its culture, and its prospects. With so many MSP employees embracing social networking, this positive, employee-generated buzz can be even more powerful in terms of its reach and impact.
This is cost effective and opportunistic recruiting. It’s also highly targeted recruiting. If you think about the superstars you have inside your organization, they will tend to spend time with people that have the same values, the same work ethic, the same abilities, the same intelligence. When looking to bring on new hires, those are the people you want.
3. Recruit by Engaging in the Community
It is also important to be part of the service provider community. Today, there are blogs, like MSPmentor, forums, groups, conferences, panel discussions, and a host of other arenas in which you can participate in this community, and contribute to its advancement.
By gaining visibility as an expert and a contributor, you and your organization can enjoy a range of benefits, including help with recruiting. This exposure in the community can help boost your visibility and that of your business, and it can help establish a positive reputation among other service providers, many of which may be strong candidates for future openings. Especially with today’s technology-centric, social networking-centric generation, participating in the community can really aid recruiting efforts.
4. Nurture and Recruit from Within
Some of your best managed services talent is inside your company today. Service provider executives need to make employee development a priority.
This is key for two fundamental reasons:
- First, the managed services segment hasn’t been around very long, relatively speaking. There are only a select number of professionals with managed services experience, so it makes business sense to be committed to growing talent and recruiting from within.
- Second, staff members often have demanding jobs. There will be a lot of stressful moments, and it takes dedication and commitment to get through those times successfully. Showing people that you’re dedicated to advancing their careers, that you’re willing to help better their future, is a tangible way for the business to demonstrate that the commitment goes both ways. By investing in their future, staff will feel more vested in the business’ future.
How about you? Are you looking to hire sales folks? How successful have you been? What’s worked and what hasn’t?