One of the biggest questions I’m asked when it comes to selling security is HOW to sell it. Whether you’re selling to new prospects or talking to existing clients during QBRs—at some point, you’ll have to have a sales conversation.
You may feel panicked at simply the thought of talking about security, especially if you don’t feel like an expert. Rest assured that you know a LOT more than the end user does. Stick to the basics and you’ll do just fine! In this post, we'll break down how to leverage that foundational sales knowledge when developing your security go-to-market plan.
Goal of a Sales Call
The first thing to remember is the purpose of your sales call. Of course your ultimate job is to make a sale, but you likely have incremental steps in your sales process. What do you hope to accomplish today? What is the objective of this appointment?
With security, your next step will likely be to schedule a risk assessment. After all, you can’t make a recommendation to reduce the business’s risk until you know what they value—which is the purpose of the assessment.
And say you’re on a sales call and things are going great. You’ve connected with the prospect, and you’re hearing all kinds of problems you know you can solve. And then you suddenly find out that the person you’re talking to isn’t actually the decision maker. (Ideally, you'll uncover that before you walk in the door, but sometimes prospects aren't 100% honest.) If you fail to plan for this, you might be left stumbling over your words. On the flip side, if you plan ahead, you’ll be able to salvage this sales call and be quick on your feet. Even if you don't make a sale that day, you can pivot quickly and recognize that your new goal is to convert your point of contact to “champion” and gain their permission to speak to the decision maker.
In the security sales process, the goal of the first meeting is to get consent to perform a risk assessment. And at the second meeting, you’ll be performing the risk assessment. But I would suggest that the goal of that second meeting is to schedule the third meeting, where you'll share the results of your assessment (and your plan to minimize the their risks.) Too often, MSPs believe the goal of the second meeting IS the risk assessment—and that leads to checking a box because the risk assessment is done. Then you go back to your office and wrap up the details, create the proposal, and THEN you try to reach the prospect to schedule the third meeting.
And what happens? Oftentimes, that prospect is nowhere to be found—and despite your valiant efforts, you cannot get them to call you back. But, imagine if you never had to track down a prospect. If you simply shift your goal during meeting #2 to get the final meeting scheduled, you’re most of the way there! Do you see how powerful a simple goal is?
Inform the Prospect
Now you know what the true the goal of the sales call is. You know what you’re aiming for, so you want to structure every question, every answer, every dialogue with the prospect toward achieving this goal.
But don’t keep the goal a secret. Let the prospect know what your process is. You may be hesitant at the thought of telling them that you want to sell them something, but that’s not a surprise to anyone! (That’s why prospects go dark if you walk away without a clear next step.) What you need to do is explain your process to them. Tell the prospect the next step and how they can buy from you. And give them permission to tell you, “No, this solution isn’t right for me.”
Keep it simple. For your first call, try something like, “At our MSP business, we follow processes for everything. Would it be okay if I tell you about our pre-onboarding process—our process for determining if this is a good fit?” Once they agree, simply explain, “Well, today is the first step. We’re going to talk about how things are working today—what is working well, and some areas for improvement. At the end of our meeting today, I’d like to explain our risk assessment process and how you can benefit from it, and then schedule that assessment. If I determine that you don’t need that assessment, is it okay if I communicate that to you? And if you decide it’s not what you need, I assume you’ll tell me that too, correct? Great, let’s get started!”
Then, for the final meeting where you want a close, simply say, “The goal of today’s call is to review the current risks to your company, to share where there are gaps between what you told me you’re comfortable with and where you actually are. I’ll show you how we can help bridge the gap between your ideal and today’s reality. At the end of our conversation today, you’ll tell me if the proposed plan makes sense. If not, we’ll shake hands, and I’ll walk away. And if it does make sense, I’ll walk you through our onboarding process.”
In these examples, you’re guiding them through your process, so they understand the goal of the meeting: to get them closer to the ultimate sale.
Back to Basics
Most MSPs have documented processes when they’re running the technical side of their company. But when it comes to sales, you might not be as organized. So how do you tighten your security sales process? By debriefing after every sales call. If you have a team, you can do this as a group. But if you’re a team of one, you can use a tool that I call the Sales Call Debrief Sheet.
This simple one-pager offers a tremendous amount of insight into whether or not you're following your sales process on calls. Frankly, there are a lot of steps that go into a successful sales call, and it’s very easy to forget some of these steps. But when you debrief after every call, you’ll see what steps you’re skipping, and you’ll be able to fix this before you form bad habits.
Create a Sales Call Debrief Sheet today and use it on your next 10 appointments. You can track whether or not you followed up on the lead correctly. Did you send the pre-appointment package and the email confirmation? Did you do pre-call research? Did you explain the buying process? Did you schedule the next appointment? What objections came up that you weren’t ready for? (Then schedule time to script out your response to this objection, practice it, and then bake it into your presentation before the prospect can even say it.) What new trends are you seeing—new questions, new competitors, or new opportunities? What is one thing you are committed to improving on your next sales call?
If you just follow the basics of selling, you’ll be wildly successful selling your managed security offering.
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By Paula Griffin
By Mark Cline