As a managed service provider, you know your stuff regarding IT networks and technical solutions. The sales process, on the other hand, may seem like another world to you or your team.
MSP sales are necessary to help your company grow and thrive, but what if you do not have the budget for a dedicated sales team? Many MSPs find themselves in this position, and it takes creative solutions for finding leads and closing deals.
Compounding the Sales Process Issue: Covid-19
The pandemic added even more stress to the MSP sales process. Most companies have felt the negative effects of COVID-19 on their margins and growth goals, and managed service providers are no exception. Luckily, MSPs offer an essential service that businesses need. Indeed, they may have even more to provide the average customer these days to address the shift to working from home and all the IT complications that come with it.
How can you overcome these challenges to a successful MSP sales strategy? With a systemic approach to attracting new leads and better business development, you can successfully transition from IT to sales and marketing. These tips can help you create an MSP sales team within your ranks and connect with your target audience.
Building a Collaborative Sales Team
Why not start with a close look at who works for you? Sure, your employees are IT wizards, but some of them may also have untapped sales and marketing abilities—you could already have sales professionals on your team. By involving your team in your sales training, you can identify who may work better with customers and who should stay on the managed services side.
Earning Trust: Relationship Management
When it comes to sales, it’s essential to be flexible, creative, and people-focused in this brave new world we’re all living in. I recently participated in a Facebook Live chat with Axcient’s VP of Sales, Mike Goldberg, and ACCi’s COO/Partner, Keith Keller, moderated by Axcient’s Director of Partner Success, Corey Banner. Here’s a look at what they and other successful MSPs are doing to pivot during the pandemic and keep the sales process from going stagnant.
Play the long game to retain customers.
First and foremost, MSPs exist to serve their customers. As a partner, it’s imperative just to check-in, let your potential customers know you’re there for them, and listen to where they’re coming from. You don’t have to offer solutions all the time. Just come with a flexible mentality, so you can both come out of this ahead.
Optimizing the Sales Funnel
To move from potential customers to existing clients, sales reps need to make their MSP sales metrics work smarter, which sometimes means switching strategies to gain business.
Change your sales process and strategies.
It’s been nearly impossible to forecast new business in the current environment, but you can at least think through multiple “What if…?” scenarios. A conservative approach has you preparing for the worst (missed sales opportunities) and hoping for the best (a closed deal). That might mean going into survival mode and asking, “What’s required to keep our doors open?” Look at the numbers. Trust historical patterns. And most importantly, be prepared to adjust your MSP business model as you go.
Develop a Tracking System
Keith and his sales team have approached the ongoing crisis in just this way. Before the pandemic hit, they had a 20% revenue growth goal. However, they’ve had to readjust and accept that, during this unprecedented time that has only happened once in 100 years, that goal will not likely occur.
Instead, they concentrated on what they could control. Keith challenged his team to be laser-focused on the minimal time they had with their existing customers and adjusted theirservice offerings. He also reviewed the team’s sales goals and plans every 90 days, readjusting if needed for factors like people going back to work, another variant of the virus, or other unexpected situations.
Bring in Subject Matter Experts
To get your team thinking like a sales company, it takes creativity. Sometimes, that means selling your MSP culture and services by demonstrating flexibility and a willingness to go that extra mile for each customer.
Get creative filling in the gaps.
For several months now, MSP sales management teams have missed out on sales funnelopportunities, such as trade shows and the leads that come from them or on-site engagement like lunch-and-learns.
“Close rates don’t dramatically change, and average deal sizes don’t dramatically change,” Mike said. “You still need that influx of leads and opportunities. But where do you get them from?”
For his team, Mike came up with new messaging, selling points, marketing materials, loyalty programs, and other promotions his sales team could offer prospective and current clients, providing a win-win situation for both parties.
Keith got creative in a different way. One of his prospective clients asked him if he could work out a 100% commission compensation plan to bring him on board, which allowed Keith to add a sales professional without an upfront cost or financial risk during these leaner times.
There are many other motivated people out there, and it’s creating a market for these mutually beneficial types of relationships. It’s just a matter of getting creative and a willingness to try new approaches to create new leads, follow up with a demonstration of services, and excite current customers.
Focus on your people and your culture.
Working from home makes for a very fuzzy line between the personal and the professional, and many people are working longer and harder than ever. It’s important to recognize this is happening and manage burnout proactively. Mike recommends making technical staff and salespeople take days off, something he’s implemented with his own MSP business team to keep everyone motivated and moving toward the same goals. It’s also a great way to thwart competitors from trying to hire your best talent.
At Liongard, we’ve spent a lot of time making sure we’re all connecting in meaningful ways. We’re trying to make the most out of what we’ve got. We now have frequent Zoom huddles where we don’t discuss work; we check in personally. We also had a virtual happy hour with the entire team recently, complete with a magician performing tricks live, and it was great—not only did everyone watch together, but their families all joined in, too.
I always say it’s the human connections—among your own people, your customers, and your prospects—that matter the most, in sales and in life. That’s more true now than ever before.
Expanding Your MSP Sales Process
Now’s a great time to take another look at our e-book, MSP Marketing and Sales Best Practices. Adapt it to your current situation, use it to plan for the future, and proceed with flexibility and creativity in your pandemic-era sales strategies.
People also ask:
What is MSP in digital marketing?
Like with any industry, the goal of MSP digital marketing is to target your ideal customer and encourage new clients to hire your business while spreading awareness for your services online. It’s a way to create and manage data to identify and connect with a company’s audience using a multiplatform approach.
What is an MSP business model?
As with any business model, an MSP marketing plan should help your company decide the scope of selling your services and pricing structure to attract qualified prospects.
How do I market my managed business?
An MSP sales funnel can range from cold calling and potential customer referrals to working conferences and in-house services demonstrations. For revenue growth, you may want a multi-pronged approach to connect with more qualified prospects.
People you’ll be selling to may ask:
What does IT MSP stand for?
A managed service provider (MSP) specializes in information technology (IT) systems. They are an excellent option for any business that doesn’t have a dedicated IT department.
What is an MSP customer?
Both large and small businesses may benefit from MSP services. An MSP customer may be a company that needs ongoing IT support or assistance with a special project.
What is an MSP offering?
An MSP offering refers to the services an MSP company provides. Some MSPs work a full-service subscription model with ongoing support and security, while others work more like a help desk to troubleshoot tech issues.