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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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How to Equip Your Sales Team for the Pitch and Close

Posted June 17, 2015by Stephanie Moncayo

If you expect to grow your managed IT services business by closing more prospects, you can't leave your sales team to do all of the work. Salespeople can be that perfect combination of charismatic and trustworthy, but none of these skills can be put to use if they also have a limited understanding of your business and services. They need to not only understand your products inside and out, but also the capabilities of your organization, as well as internal processes and the benefits of working with your company and solutions.

Once your sales team understands the main selling points for your offering and can discuss them with ease on a pitch or qualifying call, you have to help them communicate this information in a digestible and reader-friendly format that enables the sale. How has your progress been in winning new accounts? Learn how to better assist your sales team by keep reading!

"Knowledge is the foundation of a successful person," according to a Quick Start Guide to Managing a Managed Services Sales Organization, published by CompTIA, an organization designed to bring together the IT channel as well as provide professional certifications for the IT industry. The guide argues that, "what sales people know and don't know impacts sales because what we know impacts what we think which impacts what we say and do which impacts what others perceive," as illustrated in the diagram below. 

Quick Start Guide to Managing a Managed Services Sales Organization-Sales-Process

First, you must have clear, consistent positioning of your managed IT services to arm your sales team with. The leads you qualify through your demand generation and web content shouldn't receive contrary information on follow-up calls. Then, you must create the right collateral to help them seal the deal. Here's a breakdown of how to best ensure that your sales team is prepared, knowledgeable and confident when meeting or talking with prospective clients. Not sure which marketing materials lead to the most closed accounts? We have a few recommendations. 

Knowledge Impact 

Training can be costly, which is why it is all too often disregarded by MSPs. However, "investments in training pay significant dividends" according to CompTIA. You want to ensure that your sales team is not only familiar with your products and services, but that they are confident enough to act as consultants above all. It's easy to read a laundry list of product details, but your prospect wants to hear how you will help them and their business, not about the latest technical feature. In other words, your sales team has to translate how your products and services will meet your prospects' needs. This is called a consultative approach. 

Your sales team also always has to be aware of the audience. Are they talking to a business owner with a computer science background or the chief financial officer (CFO)? As I mentioned before, it's usually best to stay away from very technical jargon and focus on how your product will help the prospect's business. This means your sales team also has to be business savvy and have business acumen. Does your sales team know how a client's buying decision will impact their business financially? Can they tie your services back to revenue and profitability for clients? 

Here are a few other things your sales team should know:

Challenges, opportunities and legal requirements related to technology in the target market

Your prospective clients may not be meeting all of their compliance requirements or may be wary to enter into an arrangement with a service provider they're not sure is fully compliant. That's why you want to educate your sales team to the point where they're an authority on compliance standards like HIPAA, for example. Have them assure prospects that they understand their data privacy needs and have their back. This will go a long way on a sales call since businesses don't want their MSPs to be liabilities. 

How to compare the the overall cost of IT support versus the cost of downtime plus internal labor costs

Your sales team needs to be able to directly tie your services back to the prospective client's bottom line. Ultimately, what they care about is revenue and profitability, and they can't maintain financial stability if downtime is a constant worry for them. Explain the cost of downtime to your sales team, and then have them run through a few scenarios a prospect could face, but would want to avoid. Then, make sure they understand how your services alleviate these pain points.

How to look and sound trustworthy 

First impressions matter and sometimes, you have to spend money to make money. Do your salespeople know to wear a suit with a collared shirt when visiting prospects and conducting appointments? Do they feel comfortable enough with their talk track or does it sound rehearsed? Your sales team may not understand that showing up to onsite visits looking disheveled or nervous could discourage sales. Your prospective clients want to work with professionals so salespeople need to embody this in all dealings. Think about the car you drive or the condition it's in. What message does it send to the world? Make sure it's clean on the exterior AND interior. Appearances matter because, whether accurate or not, they give prospects a preview of the care and attention you'll give to their businesses. 

How the sale impacts your business's cash flow and your salesperson's compensation

CompTIA also suggests you educate your sales team about the cost of sales and how each salesperson will be compensated. The goal is to minimize the cost of sales while maximizing the volume. Make sure your team understands how to prioritize between prospective clients. Not all accounts take the same amount of convincing and time to close. Your salespeople should know that sometimes, it's better to cut your losses and move on to other prospects with a higher probability of closing. 


Download the Quick Start Guide below for the full list of information your sales team should know!


Sales Collateral 

So now you've trained your sales team with the knowledge and confidence required to execute the sale. What's missing? Marketing and sales collateral are key to a salesperson's success. These materials help build your brand because they convey professionalism and demonstrate capability. Many managed IT services platform providers offer white label content your sales team can customize and rebrand as its own, if you're worried you don't have the bandwidth to create these resources. Product data sheets, pricing sheets, and tech quick tips are popular choices among MSPs

Begin by determining who your target market is and then create collateral specific to that market. Your sales people should ditch making quotes for high-value clients and start employing proposals. After you've highlighted your value proposition in your proposal, focus on your solutions and how prospects would benefit if they were to do business with you. For more best practices in crafting MSP proposals, check out this blog post!

When creating sales collateral, be sure to include:

  • High-quality graphics that summarize the usefulness of each element of a solution
  • Well-written, easy-to-read copy that is meticulously edited 
  • Neat, well-organized document lay-out and design


What else do you need to build a strong sales team? Download CompTIA's Quick Start Guide!


Stephanie Moncayo is an Inbound Marketing Consultant at Continuum. Stephanie works with the programs team, assisting with content creation and strategy. A recent graduate of Northeastern University, Stephanie is passionate about dancing and traveling, as well as studying market trends and behavior.

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