At Virtual Administrator, I get to work with a lot of small IT providers and Managed Services Practices. I have noticed a common mindset that many, if not most of them have that hinders their ability to get new clients and build a thriving business. They are fixated on selling their services purely based on cost and features.
Brian Tracy, bestselling author of business and sales how-to books offers this advice: "Sell benefits, not features. The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is in focusing on what their product or service is. Rather, it's what it does that's important." He is spot on with his assessment.
In our world, managed services offerings contain features that are good for the health of the clients network. These features include patch management, virus scans, email filtering, proactive monitoring, disk defrags, registry cleanups, help-desk, scripting, NOC services, backups, etc. As techs, we love bells and whistles like these. It's instinctual for us to attempt to sell to clients based on these features alone. But, what do they really mean to the non-technical minded prospect. Most likely, nothing. How are these things going to help their business and save them time and money? The customer has no idea because we have not told them.
To make things even worse, selling based on features alone turns your offering into a commodity. The customer can easily compare your feature sets to your competitors in a black and white fashion. "EZ-Tech Support sells these same services for ten dollars less a month that you. Can you match his price." This mindset will paint you into the corner of selling based on dollars for features which is never a win for our type of service oriented business. You can start to see why so many MSPs fail to make sales at a decent profit.
The Smarter ApproachEffective Managed Services sales presentations focus on what the offering will do to benefit the customer's business in tangible ways. Things that mean something to them like how it will save them time, increase employee productivity, decrease pain points, and impact their business goals and future planning. Always concentrate on how your services will benefit your customer's business and sell to that. Get them emotionally invested in what you are selling.
Selling benefits is counter-intuitive for techies. We live in a world dominated by software and hardware features and we love it. It's no wonder we think the way we do. We have to remember that not everyone gets excited about processor speeds and new software feature sets as we do. With some practice, you can break the feature first cycle of thinking and speaking. Once you do, your sales and business will prosper for it. Remind yourself often "sell benefits, not features."
Paul Barnett is marketing director for VirtualAdministrator, which offers hosted solutions for managed service providers. Read all of Paul’s guest blogs here. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor’s 2010 Platinum sponsorship.