The Art of Managed Services Sales - From The Olive Garden?

I had dinner last night with a few MSP industry insiders. One of them is a business intelligence expert. She spends her days focused on Google Analytics, lead generation and sales pipelines. Somehow, we started discussing early career moves. She mentioned her early experiences at the Olive Garden restaurant chain. To my surprise, she described how the Olive Garden measures employee performance (i.e., sales) and other daily business metrics. It made me think: If restaurant chains with college employees have mastered the art of the upsell, why haven't MSPs?

Let me give you a few upsell and sales management examples:

  • Freemium: The BI expert told me how freemium actually has a role within the Olive Garden -- unlimited bread, salad and pasta all at a fixed cost. Clientele think they're getting a lot of "free" value for their dollar, but she had never seen someone consume more than three servings of pasta. Translation: Olive Garden's profit margins were doing just fine, thank you very much, and customers were getting a lot of bang for their buck.
  • Sample this, pay for that: Also, she explained how restaurants leave a house bottle of wine on the table for guests to sample. The product placement generated massive upsells for wine and then coffee and dessert.
  • Measure Everything: At the end of each evening, restaurant employees were measured on their ability to upsell and cross sell appetizers, drinks and dessert with main courses. Simple financial math revealed which employees knew how to generate the most revenue per customer over the long-haul.
This is really basic stuff, of course. And the strategies are proven. Olive Garden, owned by Darden, has more than 700 restaurants, more than 87,000 employees and $3.3 billion in annual sales. Is it time for MSPs to emulate that cross-selling and up-selling recipe for success?

Note: I'm double-checking to see if my Business Intelligence source is willing to share her name and company affiliation with readers. I wasn't taking notes during our conversation, though I hope I captured the essence of the discussion. Update, 11:09 a.m. eastern, Jan. 19 2011: The source for the article was Erica Santo, a business intelligence expert at ConnectWise. I received the green light to publish her name a few minutes ago.

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