Understanding the MSP Sales Process Part 3: The Proposal

Welcome back to my series, where we’ve been exploring the four key stages of the MSP sales process in order to help you increase client acquisition. In our previous entries, we talked about how to tackle MSP prospecting and the certain steps you should take before and during your initial meeting. After doing your research and determining how your business can best fit your prospect’s needs, now it’s time to move onto part three: presenting and proposing your solution.

The proposal stage is crucial to the sales process because—when done right—it can ultimately compel your prospect to buy. Many MSPs will have the urge to jump into the proposal stage prematurely. However, it’s imperative that you first understand your prospects’ pain points and business objectives. If you can strategically present your services in a way that aligns with their priorities, solves their problems and helps their business excel, you’ll have a major advantage. Here are some tips on how you can make a successful MSP proposal.

Explaining Your Value

Many MSPs will make the mistake of digging into the numbers before selling their prospect on the benefits. The proposal meeting is not the time to discuss detailed pricing, so try to hold back on those details and omit them from any common documentation. Think about it: once your prospect flips ahead to the price, the entire conversation will then be focused on their cost—bypassing your control over the real topic at hand, the value.

Instead, use your proposal meeting as an opportunity to gain small agreements and verify you’re on track with affordable recommendations that align with their goals. Make sure you set the stage and understand everyone’s stake in the conversation. This will help you identify the individuals to target for confirmation of your understanding of specific problems. If there is someone new included in the proposal meeting, do not move forward without finding out who they are what their stake is in this decision.

Similarly, you want to focus on selling the value, not just selling features. Focusing on the technicalities will only dilute your value proposition, so be sure to clearly express the business value of adopting each of the services you suggest.

Illustrating the ROI

Business people need a compelling reason to buy. Therefore, showcase the value of your services by presenting ones that are less expensive than the problems they solve. The difference in dollars between your solution and the problem creates one of salespeople’s favorite tools: the return on investment (ROI). Many salespeople make the mistake of exclusively selling ROI to CFOs, but anyone involved in the decision-making process has likely demonstrated the capacity to manage a budget and look for improved efficiency through long-term returns on investment.

While returns allow you to sell from a position of power, don’t assume that an obvious return on investment will lead to a sale. Proving value is indeed imperative, but convincing someone of a sound investment is of no use if they don’t have any money to invest. This is why you need to also understand your prospect’s budget. Don’t be discouraged if their initial budget doesn’t fit your ideal proposal. Keep in mind that negotiations are often an assumed part of many savvy business buying processes. In fact, Fortune 2000 companies have entire Buying Departments responsible for negotiating the lowest possible cost from vendors and suppliers. Having a budget does not mean that your prospect doesn’t have the capital to pay more, but when you truly explain the ROI of your solution as it relates to their business, it can be an effective way of increasing that budget.

Set the Stage as Their Strategic Advisor

The best way to build rapport with your prospect and be seen as a valuable asset is to provide technical advice and expertise. Be sure to mention what they’re doing right, but also use this time to review your initial recommendations for relieving their biggest pain points. Start with the must-have recommendations. Oftentimes, new clients’ sites require prerequisites for managed services to work affectively, such as software and/or hardware updates.

In addition to solutions for their current pain points, prepare a long-term strategy focused on improving operational efficiencies by better leveraging technology. Be sure to include incremental milestones with suggested target dates and describe how similar projects have impressed other clients.

It’s imperative that you’re willing to be flexible at this stage of the discussion and be willing to compromise. You will find clients have varying priorities and risk tolerance levels. For example, specific industries come with compliance demands, such as HIPAA for the medical industry. These types of demands should innately prepare you to define specific strategies that best align with your suggested investment. Price should always be the last item discussed and only after you’ve agreed on a strategy that you know can potentially fit their budget. Make sure you agree on the next steps, including a scheduled meeting to sit down and review the details of your formal quote together as well as implementation steps.

Summarize your proposal by verifying how you understand their challenges and how you will solve them. Ideally, these problems are already quantified, so you can include a sample ROI by saying, “Just to be sure we’re on the same page, it’s my understanding you feel this problem is costing you (x) and we’ve agreed these solutions will save you (y).” Setting clear expectations will set you up for success so can confidently go into the next and final phase of your sales process: the close.

Click here to read part four.


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