If you think great sales talent is born not made, think again! So you're not the MSP equivalent of a used car salesman (no offense to used car salesmen) pawning off rusty old lemons on naive, unsuspecting customers. Does selling intimidate you because you're not a silver-tongued, smooth operator that sees dollar signs whenever you meet new prospects? I have news for you - this isn't what sales is.
Anyone can become an expert closer...even MSPs who come from purely technical backgrounds.
How? By learning the fundamentals of the MSP sales process, outlined below:
Two weeks ago, I attended the Robin Robins Producers Club in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm sure you've heard of Robin, as she's the IT industry's most in-demand marketing consultant, sales trainer, and author, revered by MSPs all over for her comprehensive Technology Marketing Toolkit. She's also one of the keynote speakers at our second annual user conference, Navigate 2015!
As a member of a marketing department that works very closely with Sales, I now understand why Robin is so highly respected. I walked away with a greater appreciation for the sales process as it applies to managed IT services.
Do you need to close more leads, but you're not sure where to start? Robin walked through a step-by-step process, what she calls the 5 Stages of Closing.
Are You Sold?
Before you can become an effective MSP closer, you have to change the way you think about sales. Robin dubs these negative opinions, "head-trash." Think of it this way. If you believe your IT solution can help prospects and fully secure their networks, and if you won't settle for anything less than baseline data protection for them, you can sell your products and services. If you're not sold on your own managed IT services bundle, you'll never be able to sell it to someone else. As long as you believe that your technology and guidance is the solution, that's all it takes to begin.
Now, just follow these next five steps and you'll be closing in no time!
What happens when a lead is generated? A visitor lands on and browses your website until finally converting into a lead by submitting a form for an eBook or webinar download. Then what? These are the details you have to work out before you can qualify a lead. Robin suggests MSP business owners oversee how their staff follows up with leads. Are your employees answering inbound calls? Are they answering calls in the way you've established as the standard? She insists you should spot check to make sure the qualification process goes smoothly. These first impressions matter!
Then, when it comes to qualifying, you have to understand your prospect's interest in your business. Are they looking for a replacement MSP or IT solution provider and if so, why are they making the switch? Did they experience poor customer service with their last solution? Maybe their previous MSP didn't understand their biggest business challenge and was unable to provide the support the client needed.
That could indicate that the MSP didn't fulfill the qualification stage of the sales process. You have to understand your prospect's pain points and what they're looking for in this potential new business relationship. Ask these preliminary questions, like who the heavy users are on their network. Ultimately, you want to judge whether they're a right fit for you and vice versa. If they're not a high-probability close, move on.
OK so you've laid the foundation for a sale in the qualify stage. There's a mutual basis for continued communication. Now, you have to expand on this previous conversation and dig a little deeper.
Your prospect already shared at least one pain point. In the discovery stage, you ask them to elaborate by asking the following questions:
Why is that a problem?
How is that affecting your business, staff, and customers?
What have you or your previous MSP done to resolve it, and how did that work out?
What do you think the solution is now?
These are just a few questions to ask to gain useful sales-relevant information. Partner with Robin for more!
Robin also recommends asking standard, wedge questions like the following:
"When your current IT person drafted your AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) and trained your staff on it so they weren’t doing things online that could jeopardize your company’s confidentiality or security, were you comfortable with what they did or is there something you’d like to see different?"
Again, I can't reveal her whole useful script, but I hope you see just how game-changing her services are!
As final steps in the Discovery stage, Robin suggests calculating the cost of downtime (described here) and identifying the prospect's buying criteria. For example, say they're most worried about the recent IT threats that have put many SMBs out of business and aren't sure whether employees are jeopardizing data security. They might not know about mobile device management (MDM) or if they do, might not realize you offer it. Why not create a cybersecurity best practices presentation, explaining how you address BYOD concerns for your upcoming meeting?
Paging Dr. MSP. Dr. MSP, you're wanted STAT! For this next stage, you need to check the potential client's vitals. If you haven't already, you'll want to make an on-site visit. It is during this part of the MSP sales process that you'll conduct a network audit. Remember, you're the expert. You can't assume a prospect's perception of their network conditions is accurate.
What do I mean by this? Recall the last time your doctor measured your cholesterol level. Before doing so, he/she asked you if you were staying away from those salty, fatty foods that caused it to spike last time. You of course say yes, choosing not to divulge the pounds of wings you inhaled during the Super Bowl, and expect your levels to be normal. That doesn't mean they are, and you rely on your doctor to make the final call because he/she is the expert.
The same applies to your prospects. They may think they're backing up their data, but upon closer look, you might discover they're not. That's why network audits are essential! You may also notice a deeper problem in need of addressing. Robin thinks this is the biggest thing most MSPs miss. A bigger issue could require more of your services, an upsell. Are you leaving money on the table?
Related: Famous Last Words in Sales
Once you've done your due diligence, propose a treatment plan. Step away from your computer though. Whether you want to send your prescription via phone call or deliver it in-person is up to you, but never email a quote! Need another example of what NOT to do? Be stubborn and only present one option. Robin insists MSPs should approach prospects with an Option A and B. The "take it or leave it" approach will likely lose you the sale.
Also, don't be afraid to sell more than the bare minimum. Every prospect is going to be price-conscious and cost-conservative (wouldn't you be?), but they also need a business-grade managed IT services solution and the peace of mind that their data is secure. If remote monitoring and management (RMM) alone won't give them that, convince them of the value of add-ons like MDM, for instance.
You've made it to the final leg of the journey - congrats! Ideally, the close would have followed your prescription in the same conversation, but if not, you may just need to give your prospect more time. Double check that you've answered all of their questions, and offer to meet with them again, if need be. By no means should you force the sale. If it doesn't happen organically, cut your losses. If you do make the sale, congratulations. You've just become an expert MSP closer, and you didn't even need the hair gel and polyester suit to do it!
By Carlos Borges
By Ray Vrabel