It seems there are countless books, articles, and workshops dedicated to how to improve your business’ sales. While there is a plethora of resources dedicated to becoming a more proficient sales professional, many do not address the unique challenges of selling managed services. Being a member of a managed services sales team requires a quite different approach to the normal sales model. You aren’t just offering a one-time service or product…you are offering a long-term partnership and relationship to these SMB and enterprise-level businesses.
Here are four quick tips to help your sales team reach the next level and help foster that trust and relationship you need to secure greater recurring revenue that you can count on.
1. Have Full Organizational Buy-In
When creating business strategies for all teams (sales, marketing, engineers, etc.), you must consider what each part of those plans mean for the entire organization. Sales teams quite often have the most demanding goals and some of the greatest pressure to perform. While businesses will often adopt the “Everyone Serves Sales” model, that approach is not realistic in today’s successful working cultures. There must be top-down buy-in and collaboration from all teams towards the same agreed-upon strategies and goals. It takes a strong sales leader and a strong executive (or owner) to ensure this. They must be involved in not only the crafting of the strategies and goals but working with the individual teams to ensure each member understands their role in the overarching strategy while making them feel valued and appreciated for their contribution.
Another area to consider for organizational buy-in is in your organization’s full commitment to the client. It is imperative to be as thorough as possible in not only understanding the services your business provides to a client, but also in understanding the client’s company, industry, and business processes. It is good to be heavily involved in the negotiation and implementation processes as a leader. Regardless of how adept your staff is, having an executive involved can give the impression of top-down commitment from your company to a client.
2. Don’t Neglect Your Relationships
Many of the businesses the average MSP deals with are SMBs. Most likely, these businesses have a smaller number of employees and are hiring you to save on manpower costs when it comes to IT administration. Many SMBs prefer a personal relationship with the businesses they work with. It has been proven that recruiting new customers costs five times as much as retaining current customers (Alan E. Webber, "B2B Customer Experience Priorities In An Economic Downturn: Key Customer Usability Initiatives In A Soft Economy," Forrester Research, February 19, 2008). It is imperative that you invest just as much effort in building solid personal business relationships with your customers as you grow your business. In fact, it is 16 times as costly to build long-term business relationships with new customers than simply to cultivate the loyalty of an existing customer. The average customer will spend 67% more in their third year of business versus their first year.
Great personal business relationships can create an increase in your assurance of annual recurring revenue numbers due to client trust. As a result, you can rely on those clients to become loyal brand advocates who will promote your business via word-of mouth. Word-of-mouth referrals can be powerful for businesses who put a focus on receiving them. Statistics show that referrals can be 10 times more effective that traditional advertising. So, whether you like it or not, personal business relationships are essential to any MSP looking to build a strong business with longevity and recurring revenue sources that afford you easy rest at night.
3. Don’t “Techsplain” to Clients
As mentioned in the last point, the modern MSP deals with SMBs more often than enterprise level businesses. These clients are hiring you to become their IT admin and most likely do not come from a tech background. When working to sell your services make sure you communicate value over features. Do not “techsplain” to your customers, which is where you start going overly in-depth on product features. This is one of the quickest ways to lose the attention of the average SMB owner.
Yes, we all love the individual features that many of our services and products offer and I’m sure each of us can rave about machine learning, patch management, and artificial intelligence for days on end. Most of your customers care about how IT systems will impact user productivity, decrease cybersecurity risk, and keep costs manageable/under control.
To effectively sell managed services to customers, it is important to focus more on the end results of your offering rather than the tiny details. Convey to them the necessity for proactivity and how automation is used to deliver a much higher level of performance, functionality, and cost-effective stability. Most business owner’s hire managed services providers to negate their biggest expense, which is manpower. If you can share how your tech offering translates into better productivity and efficiency for their employees, you can show them the tangible benefits of why managed services are so critical to the modern SMB.
4. Don’t Lose Sight of the Total Package
The modern MSP is normally equipped to offer cloud-based managed services along with on-premises and hybrid services. Application-level management also tends to be part of the mix. When you can present the “total package”, which is your complete portfolio of your services available to prospects, it becomes perfectly clear to any potential client how you can address their needs. Clients don’t want to work with too many providers and most would rather keep all their business in one place for ease and convenience. Make sure you offer the total package to current and potential customers by keeping your offering fresh and cutting-edge. This will allow you to not only grow recurring revenue, but also will make it easier for your sales and marketing teams to use it as a value proposition.
These four strategies serve as just a foundational tip of the iceberg when it comes to breathing life into your channel sales. It takes an innovative and adept leader willing to do the necessary work to create educational training opportunities to grow their team’s abilities and strategies. When leaders take the time to invest in their teams, they will reap the rewards and benefits long-term.