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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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Understanding the MSP Sales Process Part 4: Making the Close

Posted December 12, 2017by Blake Loughran

Understanding the MSP Sales Process Part 4: Making the Close

We’ve finally come to the end of my series, Understanding the MSP Sales Process, where we’ve been learning about the four key stages of the MSP sales process. In the first three segments, we conveyed a practical approach for generating new prospects and gathering the proper information to form proposals that gain interest. Today, we’re going to dive into how you can identify the right signals and get buy-in from decision makers to confidently close more deals.

Recognizing Buying Signals

Throughout every prospect interaction, you should be looking for buying signals. Common signs your prospect is ready to finalize a deal include questions about payment terms, references, confirmation of previously demonstrated benefits, and implementation or delivery schedules.

Sometimes a “Type-A” buyer persona may jump in before you finish your proposal and ask you to explain how they move forward. When a prospect shows they are interested in committing to an agreement, you should stop selling. Essentially, be careful not to talk yourself out of a sale by overselling. It is often tempting to feel like you have to communicate every benefit to seal the deal, but remember that everyone has different reasons why they buy. When overselling, you run the risk of making your future client feel like you don’t listen or value their time. Worse yet, you could unknowingly uncover unnecessary new objections.

Even when there are no obvious buying signals, you can ask yourself three questions to help determine if you should be moving to close a new contract:

  1. Are you in agreement on their major business pain?
  2. Have you verified your recommendations to solve this pain?
  3. Does your solution’s cost align with their pain and provide ROI?

If you can answer “yes” to all three questions, then you should shift your focus to finalizing the deal.

Dealing with Decision Makers

Most often, your first opportunity to close is at the end of your proposal meeting. While pricing should not be included in the initial proposal to ensure you have control over the conversation, you should have a contract prepared detailing included products, services and pricing to share after concluding your proposal review. 

Setting the proper expectations for this meeting is critical. Individuals will sometimes resist—including every decision maker—in one proposal meeting by telling you they can pass your proposal along with their recommendation. While their support can hold considerable weight, you’ll always walk away without a decision. Even the best-intentioned attempt to restate your work will inevitably lead to additional time playing “Telephone.”

Good clients appreciate efficient buying processes. While you should be working to address any objections that may arise, be on the lookout for absent decision makers who may be hidden killers of your sales process’ efficiency.

Closing with Confidence

Almost every popular sales methodology teaches that it is better to walk away from a closing conversation with a “no” rather than a “maybe.” Many salespeople misinterpret this lesson to correlate with pressure, but modern professionals who channel their own buying behavior know that quality relationships are not built on pressure. The true lesson is that working diligently on the prospect’s best interest has earned you the right to expect a mutual respect for your time. After all, engaging in a long-term relationship with you means they directly benefit from your own operational efficiency.

Be certain that you’re prepared to speak to the resources, responsibilities, and onboarding timeline required for the prospect to take advantage of your solution. Always do more than enough homework to ensure you don’t walk away from a closing meeting with more homework.

The potential value of a long-term client can make initial negotiations stressful. The first contract sets the tone for future orders, and it is often said that a good negotiation results in both parties gaining and losing. Your pricing should always be fair and representative of your solution’s value, meaning you’ll want to get something in return for lowering your price. A few easy concessions could include:

  • Longer term contracts
  • Longer net payment terms
  • Mutually agreed upon marketing efforts
  • Additional future business

Lastly, develop your go-to closing statement using an assumptive close. Take this one for example: “When our Implementation Specialist is on-site to start this project, she’ll take the following actions to ensure your goals are exceeded by this date.” Remember that companies spend money to achieve business goals. Focus on urgency—not your urgency to close, but their urgency to achieve those goals.

Being confident, diligent and implementing a well-planned sales process will help drive the growth needed to exceed your revenue strategy and set you on the road to becoming a $10 million MSP!

 

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Blake joined Continuum in early 2016 with 20 years of business development experience ranging from short sales cycles to navigating RFPs with Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining Continuum, Blake founded a successful merchant services business before helping to exponentially accelerate Microsoft Dynamics channel development at HighJump Software and CSSI. As a Strategic Partner Manager at Continuum, he specializes in helping increase revenue growth for strategic partners in the Southeast region.

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