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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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Starting the Sales Conversation with a Positioning Statement

Posted August 2, 2016by Mary McCoy

After one of your prospects becomes a sales lead, what’s the next step? You might be familiar with the basics – their contact information gets passed on to your sales team and they attempt to persuade them of a need for your product or services. However, do you have a clear understanding of how exactly that conversation gets started?

Having recently taken the HubSpot Inbound Marketing exam, one of the main topics I got the chance to explore deeper was the sales process. Many businesses may think that the essential part of this process lies at the end – actually making the sale. While this is important for business and revenue growth, it’s even more critical to start your sales process off right. Keep reading to understand how your sales team can get the conversation going and persuade prospects with a sales positioning statement.

A positioning statement should act as a reference document for any branding activity you do at your organization for any particular service or product. Typically, the positioning process consists of identifying an appropriate market niche for your product or service and getting it established in your industry.

A positioning statement is a key component of any sales call, and can help spark further conversation when done correctly. Before you start constructing your positioning statement, though, you should fully understand who your prospect is and how you can help them. This way, you can strategically tailor your positioning to suit their needs and pique their interest.

Do Your Research

You wouldn’t walk into an important meeting unprepared – so why would you jump into a prospect call without any prep beforehand? It’s easy to get a little over excited about a new lead that has just come in, but knowing exactly what to say before engaging is an important first step in communicating your positioning statement. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you will play your cards right during the beginning of this sales process:

1. Know your buyer

Avoid just knowing the general types of people that your company typically sells to. Get familiar with the specific person that you are going to get into contact with, who their company is and what their role is. What vertical (if any) is the business in? Do they have compliance regulations you will need to help them adhere to? When you better understand who they are and what their buyer’s persona consists of, you can better position your offering in a way that appeals to their specific business concerns.

2. Know their company

Knowing the ins-and-outs of what a prospect’s company can help figure out which aspects of their business might be failing and can further enable you to persuade them in why they need your help. Do they have any specific pain points you can help them address? If you don’t know, or see, any immediate issues their company needs help with, you might need to do a little more digging. Review their website and research their company on LinkedIn to fully understand your prospect and their needs before reaching out. Getting familiar with your prospect’s company is just as important as getting familiar with your actual prospect.

3. Know your competitive advantage

Chances are that if a prospect has been looking into your company or a specific offering, they’ve probably been looking into your competitors’ as well. When speaking with a sales lead, you need to be able to share why your offering is the best fit for them. Does your product have specific features that improve productivity? Are your services paired with a fully managed Help Desk that can assist in their everyday IT needs? When you share information with prospects, make sure it is unique to your company, so there is a clear differentiation from the other offerings out there.

Writing Your Positioning Statement

At some point in a sales conversation, your prospect will typically ask you what your company does. A great way to answer this question is with a well thought-out positioning statement. Communicating your positioning statement is only the beginning of the complete MSP sales process, but getting it right can help convince prospects of your value and set you apart from your competition. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when creating your positioning statement:

Make it customer-centric

Firstly, your positioning statement should not be about you. It should revolve around your prospects, the type of pains you solve, and the type of companies you help. Initially, this is what prospects find most interesting. They want to learn more about what you can do for them – not about your company’s history.

Make it dynamic

Your positioning statement should never be static. The IT landscape is ever-changing, and your positioning statement should reflect that. You may have to run through several versions to find the one that resonates with the prospect in front of you. If none of your positioning statements hit the mark, it could be a good indication that the prospect is not a fit for your services.

Include key components

Overall, a well-constructed positioning statement should contain these key components:

  1. A point of differentiation – which describes how your brand or product benefits customers in ways that set you apart from your competitors and make you stand out.

  2. A frame of reference – which describes the specific market niche or category in which your company competes.

  3. A credible reasoning – which provides compelling evidence and reasons why prospects in your target market can have confidence in your differentiation claims.

Let’s see what this would look like in an example. Say there’s a business called Tooth Help, they have been on your website and social media profiles and you notice that John, the business owner, has just downloaded a piece of your content. You realize that now is the best time to reach out, but you need the perfect positioning statement to draw them in. You go to Tooth Help’s website and see that they are a small dentist office. Now you need to answer this: What specific service offering of mine is going to benefit them the most and uniquely stand out among similar offerings?

Your conversation starter might look something like:

“Hi, John. It's [First Name] at [MSP Business Name]. I saw that you recently downloaded our HIPAA compliance checklist. After taking a look at your website, I have a few suggestions on how outsourcing your IT management needs can help alleviate the stress of staying HIPAA compliant, but was there anything in particular that you were looking for help with?"

Let's say the prospect's reply doesn't give you much to go off of. Enter: the positioning statement...

"I’ve been speaking with a lot of dentist offices like yours, and I’m aware that compliance is one of their top concerns. Many businesses in the healthcare industry know they have to comply with HIPAA regulations, but they either don’t have the bandwidth or they’re afraid they aren’t using their IT budget wisely. In your experience, have you encountered these types of issues?”

The wording of your positioning statement doesn’t have to look exactly like this, but to be effective it must contain your offering and a point of differentiation. You also want your positioning statement to be as relatable as possible, so explain how you understand your prospect’s pain points and determine how you might be able to help them. Your positioning statement is essential in earning a prospect’s trust, so it needs to be meaningful and convincing.

If this goes well, you can continue to converse with them about their company until they start to see a need for your product or offering. You can even talk about the issues companies similar to them have been facing and how they were able to succeed with your service or offering. Talking about the success of your clients will show prospects that you actually care about the success of their businesses – not just about profits. A well-constructed positioning statement can help get your foot in the door with new leads, and can be very useful in starting a meaningful sales conversation. Remember that you should focus on a sales positioning statement when you want to create value around your phone call. After this goes well, then you can continue to uncover some level of need, suggest a more formal sales call and move them along the sales funnel.

Download the Managed IT Services Sales Imperative White Paper

Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Senior Demand Generation Programs Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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