This week: a special edition of the Channel Futures podcast. In this episode, you’ll hear from four different thought leaders from the world of sales and marketing. This podcast was recorded as a roundtable discussion during a live webinar sponsored by Datto in May 2018. Tune in and hear insights and observations on key go-to-market topics, including vendor leads, marketing best practices, sales management and recruiting, vertical market differentiation and telemarketing.
Participating in the discussion are:
- Stuart Crawford, founder and CEO, Ulistic
- Tracie Orisko, president, Managed Sales Pros
- Nick Points, director of sales, CharTec LLC
- Ken Thoreson, president, Acumen Management Group
In addition to serving as CEO, Crawford is the creative director at Ulistic, which helps IT services providers nationwide. Among other services, Ulistic bills itself as a “single stop for all IT services marketing, IT service website creation, and sales and marketing coaching.” A former MSP himself, Crawford is well-known throughout the MSP community and is a Channel Futures Xpert and longtime contributor.
Orisko, meanwhile, helps IT firms that want to increase their monthly recurring revenue (MRR). Specifically, she introduces MSPs to potential new clients who are interested in fixed-fee IT support. That’s largely accomplished by the efforts of Managed Sales Pros, which provides world-class telemarketing services. (Full disclosure: Managed Sales Pros is a partner of Channel Futures and has helped out on the MSP 501.)
A self-described “go-getter,” Points is a seasoned veteran with skills in client retention, channel development and business strategy, among other things. His employer, CharTec, is well known in the channel for its extensive work with MSPs. Among other things, it helps them sell, market and manage their businesses. (If you want more info, be sure to check out the company’s upcoming three-day Academy, which is scheduled to begin June 13. It’s designed specifically for MSPs and covers sales, marketing and operations.)
Finally, we have Thoreson, a speaker, author and sought-after consultant who provides consulting services, training and products designed to improve business and revenue performance. Think sales. His company, Acumen Management, is particularly knowledgeable in the area of sales leadership, recruiting and business execution. Over the last two decades, his consulting, advisory and platform services have been consumed by organizations all over the world.
In this episode, the quartet of experts share insights, lessons learned and some funny anecdotes. Orisko, for example, tells a funny story about a “hot” lead her company received from a prominent vendor. It took a month to chase down and four solid of hours of work to sort out. In the end, it turned out that all the customer wanted was a $12 laptop charger. Her takeaway for channel practitioners: Vendor leads are occasional gifts but hardly a growth strategy.
As for Thoreson, he advises partners to consider their business prospects in terms of “A,” “B” and “C” opportunities. Better MSPs focus on A or B opportunities; they don’t bother with C prospects and below.
Crawford agrees, adding that vendor leads are hardly “sufficient nourishment for an MSP business.”
Another piece of sales management advice: Promoting a top sales person to the position of head of sales management can be a very bad idea, Thoreson says. He likens that to promoting LeBron James or Michael Jordan to coach.
“What makes someone a star performer in one role is often the very thing that will prevent from being successful in another,” Thoreson says.
As for prospecting, “You have to have multiple streams of opportunities coming in [in order to grow your business,]” Crawford says. He feels the same way about marketing. Marketing, he adds, is a lot like golf: “You need 14 different strategies at your disposal just like you need 14 different clubs in your bag to compete effectively.”
For many MSPs, marketing does not come naturally. But fear should not prevent you from marketing at the proper levels needed to propel your company. Furthermore, you must prepare to market your company over the long haul; no quick-time marketing investment will sustain your company, says Points.
After investmenting in a marketing campaign, “[MSPs] have to prepare themselves for work that follows,” Orisko adds.
When it comes to differentiation and specialization, the quarter of experts were universally aligned: a distinction such as vertical-market expertise is a better way to go to market.
“If you want to make some serious money in this industry, become a specialist,” says Crawford.
Finally, the experts recommended two books during the webinar. Here are the titles and links to them:
- “The Pumpkin Plan” by Mike Michalowicz. (It talks about company differentiation and how, with some thought, any company can achieve distinction.)
- “Secrets of Question-Based Selling” by Tom Freese. (It theorizes that “what” salespeople ask is more important than anything they will ever say.)
Here's hoping you’ll enjoy this episode of The Channel Futures Podcast. If you’d like to be a guest on an upcoming episode or have a comment, drop me a line at [email protected]. (KNect365 is the division at Informa that includes Channel Futures and our colleagues at Channel Partners.)