Continuum Expands Training Program to Bolster Partners’ Sales Skills
When it comes to enterprise technology, traditional VARs and MSPs are longtime, proven experts. What’s more they have deep, established relationships with their customers. But in a world where customers expect service providers to be a true ‘trusted advisor,’ that may not be enough.
The sales conversation has changed in the last several years as the digital transformation picks up speed and the subscription-based economy gains more dominance. Partners have to sell to the line of business (LOB) buyer instead of the CIO. They need to craft their offerings to a consumption model, which many traditional VARs and MSPs may be reluctant to do. And they need to understand their clients’ business models and industries if they’re going to be able to solve for business outcomes.
Competitors are coming at traditional partners from every side, many of them new players. The market is growing more crowded, and service providers that don’t have the sales to close a deal will be in real trouble.
“After our first Sales Academy in 2017, we had numerous requests from attendees for an expanded version this year, as well as interest from partners who didn’t attend the first time around,” Bob Kocis, chief revenue officer at Continuum, told Channel Futures. “That demand spurred us to not only bring back the Sales Academy in 2018 but also to build it out into a more comprehensive, advanced experience that covers not only foundational training but also higher-level skills for seasoned sales teams and business owners.”
The enhanced program provides two tracks, one for seasoned sales reps and business owners, and the second for partners that are new to selling managed services. This foundational training covers core competencies like prospecting, communicating value propositions, and handling objections. Both programs offer peer networking opportunities.
“We know from our conversations with last year’s attendees that the first Sales Academy helped those providers to sell their services better, and as a result, drive more revenue for their businesses, so we’re looking forward to expanding that impact this year by both educating new attendees and building on the knowledge of returning partners,” said Kocis.
Kocis points out that the consolidation trend happening in the channel right now gives partners an additional incentive to build robust sales teams, a critical consideration of companies looking to acquire MSP shops. Primarily, of course, potential acquirers are looking at service delivery and customer retention, but a channel firm without a demonstrated ability to sell in an increasingly competitive market has little chance against those with impressive sales records.
“I thoroughly enjoyed attending Continuum’s first Sales Academy because my team and I were able to walk away with tangible strategies to help grow our business,” said Michael Clinton, Senior Account Executive at Entre Computer Services, in a statement. “In addition to the world-class facilities and the fantastic speakers, Continuum’s Sales Academy event provided enriched education around how to drive sales and better leverage Continuum’s platform.”
The beginner Sales Academy — Foundation course will be offered multiple times throughout 2018 at the company’s office in Cranberry Township, PA. Attendees are required to complete the Selling Managed IT Services certification through Continuum University before the seminar. The sessions are kept small—no more than 15 participants—so trainers can offer personalized feedback.
The Sales Academy — Advanced will be held in downtown Pittsburgh April 24-25, 2018, and requires an invitation.
The company hopes the expanded educational program will equip its partners with the skills they need to thrive in today’s channel. After all, Continuum needs successful partners in order to grow its own customer base. The company is expanding at a good clip, just this week announcing a distribution deal with Portland Europe that adds EU’s Benelux region to its RMM businesses in the UK, Australia, and South Africa.
Many channel partners are ‘aging out,’ and acquisition has become a prime goal of many MSPs looking forward to retirement. Continuum’s focus is to increase the value of its partners not only to increase its own revenue, but to help them position themselves as a valuable asset to buyers.
“Our partners know that the market is primed for providers with good sales teams,” says Kocis. “They’ve seen acquirers move in for competing businesses based not only on their service delivery, but also their sales ability, and they want to ensure they’re not caught in no-man’s-land as that activity intensifies.”