How to Simplify the Managed Services Sales Process
Three top managed services executives are discussing sales strategies during a TruMethods SchnizzFest conference panel here in Philadelphia. The experts: Moderator Gary Pica interviewing masterIT CEO Michael Drake, Spade Technology CEO Myles Keough and ActiveCo President James Ford (pictured, left to right). So, what are their sales-driven recommendations? Here’s the update.
From Michael Drake, CEO of MasterIT in Memphis, Tenn.
“We simplified,” said Drake. Some examples: masterIT no longer sells on a per-device or per-user basis. Instead, masterIT offers customers a total monthly engagement price — basically serving as a virtual CIO rather than a per-device manager. Off-stage Drake quipped to me: “Most customers don’t even know how many devices they have.”
Drake recommended a book called The Ultimate Sales Machine. Within the book Drake read about a so-called dimensional mail campaign — mailing target customers small, memorable toys and reinforcing the masterIT brand in all mailings. “Marketing has to be consistent,” said Drake. “It’s a dating process.”
In another example, Drake served cupcakes at a business meeting. And he shared a simple story about outcomes — serve the cupcake experience — rather than the ingredients in the cupcake. He says MSPs sometimes spend too much time on the ingredients — spam filtering, email management, etc. — instead of the outcome: A great, well-managed business.
masterIT is growing about 30 percent this year vs. 2010. “The biggest thing that has changed is our belief system,” said Drake. “We have more of a swagger. It’s not arrogance. Prospects notice confidence. And from the very first face-to-face meeting we’re confident in discussing our value and even our prices.”
From Myles Keough, CEO, Spade Technology, Mansfield, Mass.
Keough described a sales campaign that includes an IT expense audit. Each mass mailing typically generates around one or two new customers. The mailing describes how Spade Technology can pinpoint a company’s current spending, where there’s potential waste, and how the spending compares to typical industry norms.
Keough also avoids the temptation to cut pricing during competitive discussions. After making a $2,200 monthly proposal, a target customer said they had found an alternative support option at $1,500 per month. Keough told the prospect: “If you need $1,500 support then buy it today and enjoy it today. The other scenario is you think you can get support valued at $2,200 for the lower price of $1,500.” In a 45-minute conversation, Keough re-set the discussion and explained why $2,200 support is what the customer needed. He won the deal.
From James Ford, President of ActiveCo., Port Moody, B.C.
Ford said that he always points out “next steps” to target customers. It’s more than uncovering pain. It’s about controlling the sales process with clear next-step objectives: Getting a signed contract on the spot if possible. Re-setting the conversation to understand why a customer may not be able to make a decision at the moment. And knowing when to walk away from a potential engagement because of customer indecision.
Later in the conference, TruMethods CEO Gary Pica is expected to interview mindSHIFT CEO Paul Chisholm. mindSHIFT acquired Pica’s former managed services business several years ago. I’ll be curious to know if Chisholm is scanning the audience for more potential M&A targets.