The Right Sales Hire Helps Managed Service Providers Boost Business Development
In a recent post, I discussed the importance of migrating away from a break/fix model of client service to selling ongoing IT services including network monitoring and management programs with a monthly billing model. While I offered some suggestions for managed service providers, essentially outlining the value proposition for IT management and noting the costs of downtime, in some cases it’s not the business owner that is selling IT contracts and interfacing with prospects. It’s the sales team – or single sales person. In that case, MSP business owners need to make certain that their sales resources are well-equipped and prepared to sell IT services contracts. Unfortunately, I’ve found that very few are.
Because many MSPs investments in recruiting or paid job search services, it’s not the lack of qualified leads that trip up MSPs. The most common mistake I see business owners make is hiring a ‘box pusher.’ This is a term I use to refer to a sales associate that might have deep technology sales expertise, but is primarily selling hardware or software. For mid-range priced hardware or software for SMBs, this type of sale is often a targeted, one-time process (plus semi-regular calls for upgrades). Since a sales associate can likely demonstrate strong success metrics related to software sales, MSPs might not even think to ask about experience related to service contract sales. The reality is that selling a monthly IT service contract is much different than making a single solution sale.
Aside from the misstep of hiring the wrong associate in the first place, MSPs’ sales teams are also often unsuccessful because they don’t have resources to assist in the sales process. Just as I coached MSPs to have a conversation about the value of ongoing IT management, sales associates must be involved in the discussion as well. To do so, sales teams should have average technician rates and a prospect’s IT environment specifications on hand to estimate the cost of site visits to address specific issues. This can allow for a discussion about what it would cost a SMB if a technician was called periodically throughout the month. Sales associates should also be able to discuss the cost of downtime for an SMB – ranging from lost user productivity to sales or revenue as a result of IT system disruption or latency. The sales associate should also be given clear direction in terms of priorities (for instance, connecting with current break/fix clients or calling through new prospects in a specific vertical). If an MSP has invested the time and resources to find and hire a sales associate, it’s worth it to invest in his or her success. Consider buying a prospect list to give the new hire as a starting point for sales discussions.
I’ve seen the cycle and effects of MSPs making a few bad sales hires. Most MSP business owners give up and take over the sales process if one or two pros new hires don’t work out. What’s interesting is that MSPs have a much less difficult time hiring engineers or technicians. That’s because MSP business owners are themselves technical and likely have held the technician role. They know what skills to look for and which questions to ask. This isn’t usually the case when hiring a sales associate, yet the sales hire could deliver as significant a revenue or business development boost as a new technician. It’s in the MSPs best interested to get it right.
Mike Byrne is director of MSPs at Quest Software’s PacketTrap division. For information about PacketTrap MSP, go to www.packettrap.com or email email@example.com. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmetnor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all PacketTrap MSP guest blogs here.