How to Reimagine Your Managed Services Sales Process

Written by Richard Thomas

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    In the wake of great change comes great opportunity and, where service providers are concerned, 2021 spells a new chance to come out as a strategic leader. After all, as businesses continue to embrace remote work as normal, MSPs are better positioned than ever to prove their value. 

    Unfortunately, in a services market that’s mired in commoditisation, many are finding that they’re unable to gain that competitive traction. Ultimately, overcoming this setback requires a broad approach that includes expanding service and product offerings (as planned by 66% of MSPs,) and stepping away from a “box-of-bits” approach in favour of holistic solutions.

    Your sales strategy and, more specifically, the processes behind it lie at the helm of these focuses. Especially in the current climate, overhauling your sales processes allows you to gain traction with new customers which can help you to prove your place as one of the top managed service providers in the industry. 

    Any sales rep looking to stay on top of critical MSP industry trends in 2021 and beyond needs to reimagine MSP sales strategies. Here, we are going to look at the standard steps within an MSP sales process and explore ways that key components of each stage can be upgraded to improve outcomes. Let’s get started!

    Additional reading: For more details on how to increase margin and streamline sales processes, check out our free ebook — Transforming the Value of Networks.     

    Stage 1: Lead generation

    Without leads, no sales team stands a chance. From initial contact through to sealing a deal, it all starts here. Traditionally, lead generation has been considered a marketing matter but, in actuality, a combined-arms marketing/sales approach is far better for tangible solutions.

    By working together, sales and marketing teams can rise above being ‘just another name’ by utilising value-driven methods, such as —

    • Content marketing: Articles/videos/podcasts etc. that are both informative and sales driven.
    • Account-based marketing (ABM): targeted social media/interactive storytelling/lunch and learns that increase returns by around 89%.
    • Personal contact: Meetings/email/networking.

    How to reimagine the process

    As client needs shift, so too should marketing processes to ensure that you’re forever hitting prospect pain points. Luckily, taking a combined marketing/sales approach makes this much more likely, but the need for fast, easy resolutions also means that you also need the right tools.

    Specifically, platforms that make it easy for sales and pre-sales teams, and/or sales engineers and solutions architects to effectively communicate, share information, and then deliver insights to prospect clients can dramatically improve collaboration and outcomes. This is particularly true for solutions architects. The right platform will provide a clear picture of requirements, preventing the all-too-often blind scramble to build a solution that will work.  

    You also need tools to help you better understand existing clients, undertake “white space analysis” and expand/improve your product and service offerings. This will not only help introduce more structured upselling and cross-selling within the lead generation process, it will improve your ability to go out and find new leads.  

    Stage 2: Lead qualification and research

    Blindly reaching for leads is never going to help you prove value in real-time, hence why you also need to both research and qualify on a per-lead basis. Specifically, sales pitches stand a much higher chance at landing if you can answer questions such as:

    1. Does a buyer profile fit your target?
    2. What is the size of their company?
    3. What is their contact information?
    4. How much time do they spend on your website?
    5. Are there any red flags?

    Unfortunately, an average 28% of leads are handed to sales teams before any form of qualification happens, making it a whole lot harder to sell managed services that suit. By comparison, a standardised lead qualification process ensures educated prospects, clearly defined budgets, and low churn rates. Applying automation can prove especially useful for achieving these benefits without adding to workloads, though teams should also be free to utilise the phone communications still valued by 60% of clients, specifically where immediate IT issues are concerned.

    How to reimagine the process

    Client needs are becoming more complex meaning that reimagined sales approaches need to lead with value-driven insights gleaned from auditing and networking prospects. After all, once you understand what a client needs, securing a sale should be as easy as one, two, three. Well…almost. 

    Unfortunately, no sales budget in the world makes long-winded prospecting processes possible for every lead. As such, fast and easy processes that provide real value regardless are integral. And, again, the right tools are the best way to achieve that, with automated processes that answer the above questions for you standing to entirely remove the need for convoluted research. Most notably, sales teams need to seek non-technical, easy to implement platforms that they can utilise without having to call on IT teams to make sense of things for them. 

    Stage 3: Present, handle objections, and propose

    Far from being the end of the process, turning the heads of the right leads is just the start. After all, just because a lead is looking doesn’t mean they’ll bite, especially if you swiftly turn your attention to other things and leave “commoditised product selection” to do the rest of the talking. 

    Rather, even this stage of the process needs to be a back and forth that, at its heart, proves your value on a targeted level. Fundamentally, this stage of the hard-sale requires a three-step process where you — 

    1. Present your products and services, specifically focusing on value rather than offerings. 
    2. Handle objections as they arise to provide the tailored, holistic approaches that 2021 needs. 
    3. Propose a polished service plan that shows both your value and your flexibility regarding unique business pain points, thus closing the deal.
    ebook about transforming the value of networks

    How to reimagine the process

    The central upgrade that sales teams need to harness is the ability to quote based on real numbers after conducting preliminary network audits. Step two is the ability to present that information to prospects using intuitive and customer-facing visualisations. This way, it’s possible to give context-based projections that prove your value, even if your price points are higher than your competitors. Realistically, it’s actually likely that you will be able to underbid the competition and provide consultative value during the sales process. 

    The key to moving away from ‘estimates’ and instead focus on real numbers is having access to audit tools that are built for sales teams to use themselves, and can be connected to prospective customer networks without technical expertise.    

    Full disclosure: Delivering this outcome is a main reason we developed Highlight in the first place. Our goal was to take the sophistication of network monitoring software and re-invent the interface for intuitive use by commercial teams — streamlining data feeds to focus users on relevant insights and enable commercial goals. Get in touch if you want to learn more.  

    Stage 4: Deliver service and upsell 

    Given that cross-selling and up-selling make sales 60-70% more likely, sales teams need to remember that their efforts don’t stop with a closed deal. Rather, modern-day fast-paced environments mean that opportunities open all the time, and sales professionals should look for them to stay ahead. 

    This is especially pressing in an age where service provides need to become integrated with in-house IT teams, forever offering to meet pain points as and when they arise. If you can’t add value to customers and find new ways to improve your services, exciting accounts will soon stagnate, leaving the doors wide open for your competitors to take the helm. 

    How to reimagine the process

    Where up-selling and cross-selling opportunities are concerned, ongoing white space analysis is invaluable for ensuring that you continually offer new services to fill gaps before competitors spot them. That said, traditional white space analysis for every client has always been a convoluted process, meaning that sales teams struggle to manage this alongside daily activities. You need systems that make this easy, and allows for the review of client data and access to value-driven insights at the click of a button. This way, sales teams can see in moments whether there’s an upselling prospect, and even how they can integrate it into an existing solution for easy-to-prove value that they can communicate in real-time. 

    Suggested reading: How to Double Down on MRR Growth as an MSP

    Using technology to complement a human-led process

    For too long, sales teams have been limited rather than assisted by growing technology focuses, with the need for tech-minded sales teams largely taking away from the importance of sales as a skill. But, as differentiation comes ever-more to the fore, these are compromises that companies can no longer afford to make. Rather, service providers need to find tools that allow for the data and real-time insights necessary to close deals, but made accessible for sales-specific skill sets. 

    We built Highlight with precisely these focuses in mind, and have been helping sales teams for more than two decades now. Our non-technical, customer-facing platform ensures that we work with sales rather than against them to open previously out-of-reach opportunities including:

    • Quote based on audits and real numbers
    • Upselling and cross-selling
    • Easy communications
    • Value demonstrations
    • Same page focuses

    When it comes down to it, each of these can help you to reimagine a sales process that works, even in this unpredictable and sometimes daunting remote landscape. Get in touch if you want to learn more

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