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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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7 Habits of Highly Successful IT Service Providers: Habit #5

Posted February 8, 2018by Joseph Tavano

7 Habits of Highly Successful IT Service Providers: Habit 5

Perfecting your sales pitch is an invaluable skill, but to win clients you’ll need to know how to customize your message to match the business needs of different buyer personals. In this fifth installment of the 7 Habits of Highly Successful IT Service Providers, you’ll learn how and when to change up your value prop, and who to go after first when pursuing your next client.

At Navigate 2017, Continuum CEO Michael George outlined seven habits that the most profitable, growth-oriented MSPs in the industry all seem to have in common. Designed as actionable skills you can put to use immediately in your business, these seven habits of highly successful IT service providers are proven building blocks for success in a modern managed IT services business. Each of the seven posts in this special series will explore one habit in greater detail.

Habit #5: Selling to the Business and Revenue-Driving Sides of the House

In our last installment, we discussed why you should focus on leading with the value of your managed IT services. When selling, you should cater this message to the role you’re selling to, because naturally, you’ll have a different conversation with a tech audience than you would with an administrative one. But how do you know what will resonate with each audience? And, which one should you target first—the technical minds or the key decision makers of the business?

Identifying Personas

It’s one thing to understand that your sales pitch should be tailored to match the interests of the person you are pitching to, but it’s another to develop a process to speak to that same customer role over and over again. This is the core of persona-based selling, which can be an effective method to deliver your message in ways that solve key pain points and demonstrate your value differently across a client organization. Constructing personas for the technical roles, as well as the business owner of your prospective client base, will help you have more productive sales conversations that qualify their pain points, alleviate their concerns and ultimately achieve the buy-in needed to close the deal.

Personas can be as simple or as specific as you wish—the goal is to collect and retain the sales-oriented information your organization has collected about each specific role they speak to. Then, you’ll want to build a profile of that role that each member of the sales team knows and understands. That profile should include the goals that the contact is looking to achieve with your services, the value your services bring to their role, and how to handle objections you may hear from that specific person. Taking a process-oriented approach will reduce the time—and ultimately the cost—of acquiring a new client.

Order of Operations

Knowing what to say is only half of the story; knowing when to say it is the other. Selling managed IT services to an administrative or technology audience can be very challenging, but selling to a business-minded audience offers a much clearer pathway and opportunity. Start here first.

A technical audience will almost always see your services as a cost or expense; something that is going to take money out of the business—yet those who are on the revenue-driving side of the house will often better-understand how your services can actually help them improve sales, lead flow and ultimately revenue.

Once you’ve successfully sold to the business audience, then it’s time to focus on the IT team or any technical resources. The key to achieving buy-in here is to help them understand how you’ll be making their lives easier—that you aren’t threatening their work or their job security, but rather acting as an enabler, empowering them to take on more interesting and strategic work.

Vertical Value

Keep in mind, also, that business professionals will have less of an opinion about the specific technologies you’re discussing, and more of an interest in the value you can add to their business. This is where the benefits of selling into certain vertical markets can pay some significant dividends. Your experience in helping a dental practice to become more efficient with scheduling appointments, billing and referrals, for instance, makes you a strategic partner to their business. Your understanding of their unique needs and challenges comes from the fact that you have maintained some level of vertical focus in their market. 

Conclusion

In sales, timing is everything. Offering the right solution to solve a problem faced by an SMB at the right time is the key to winning a client. But you have to drill down further—knowing who to speak to at that organization, when to speak to them, and how to position your solution correctly can make all the difference between a profitable deal and a missed message.

By focusing your efforts on the business owner first, you’ll reduce your barrier to entry into the organization, and can then cater subsequent messages to different personas to ultimately get total buy in at all levels. You’ll be building a stronger relationship that can present better opportunities for upsell/cross-sell, which will amount to a happier client—and more revenue!

Click here to read habit #6!

 

Start selling to the SMB business owner today!

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Joseph Tavano is Senior Content Marketing Manager at Continuum, with more than 14 years of experience in content creation, content marketing, event marketing, marketing communications, demand generation and editorial across a range of industries. He is the author of several eBooks, blog posts, thought-leadership articles and other marketing and product collateral that enable Continuum partners and IT service providers in the channel to make their businesses stronger and grow their profits. In 2016, he launched the Continuum Podcast Network, which publishes multiple shows every week and reaches tens of thousands of IT professionals every year. A native of Boston, he holds bachelors in English and History from Suffolk University and resides in Salem, Massachusetts.

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