By: Hannah ODonnell on May 27th, 2020
Adjusting Your Managed Services Sales Process to Achieve Growth in 2020
Video Above: Hannah O'Donnell, Director of Sales at Collabrance, interviews Tim West, VP of Sales at Advance Business Systems, to learn more about how they are successfully growing their managed IT business during unprecedented times.
MSP Interview with Advance Business Systems
What are your three biggest drivers of success at your MSP?
Outbound touches are critical, using our sales process as a differentiator and excelling in service delivery would be our keys to being able to grow Advance Business Systems during this time.
As things are evolving, we’ve actually decided to ramp up activity, not down.
#1 - Activity. For us nothing replaces quality activity, especially now considering COVID-19. We created a benchmark for each managed IT rep to make 150+ outreaches per week, and there is a way to strategic do those outreaches that make sense. We want to help others achieve their technology goals with empathy. It’s not about a short-term pipeline, but building a longer-term pipeline so there are future opportunities.
#2 - Process Alignment. We want to make sure that our customer’s buying process is in alignment with our sales process. Our selection of managed IT customers at Advance is unique. It’s important for not only our customers to select us, but for us to choose them to make it a successful partnership.
#3 - Service Delivery. During this time, we also have to be supporting our current customers with exceptional service levels. These customer relationships are key to new referrals which are more important than ever these days. During our strategic business reviews with existing customers, it’s imperative that we understand who they know that we might be able to help with technology as well.
What’s important in a managed IT seller role and responsibility?
Our goal with IT sellers is to disqualify opportunities, so as we get down in the sales funnel all of the objections are hopefully resolved. It’s a natural culmination that can lead to a really high closing rate of managed IT opportunities.
The successful skillset on the IT seller have to be able to:
- Qualify prospects in and out of the funnel
- Identify emotional business pains or challenges in a potential IT target
- Gain access and connect with the C-Level and decision makers
- Lead a high-level business conversation to avoid technical conversations that might derail the opportunity
- Confidence and competence to have a budget conversation
- Ensure the prospect values IT and see it as an investment to grow their business, and leverage technology to be more secure and efficient
- Educate by vertical market to be positioned as a specialist to the buyer (we spend a lot of time developing knowledge by vertical with our IT seller)
- Set the stage for what a true partnership looks like together
- Have a sales-oriented mindset to hunt opportunity and drive activity
A sales cycle might be 30 days long for an imaging device or solution as a transactional sale. But we understand the sales cycle for managed IT is a different mindset, and can be longer – anywhere from 90 days, 6 months, or even a year. It depends upon the client, their current situation, existing contractual agreements, changes that are going on in their business.
It’s really important in a managed IT opportunity for our rep to be building the funnel, developing those relationships, and constantly pushing out content to nurture qualified prospects.
It does take patience, and you must have the organization behind you to make the investments while you build your pipeline, and also understand why you are walking away from certain “opportunities” who are not a good long-term fit. We’re fortunate at Advance to have their support and now it has resulted in a robust pipeline that we’re able to be selective.
What’s been the biggest driver of your success at Advance?
I’d say our biggest driver of success at Advance is our selling process. We believe that IT Services partnerships are two-way decisions. We select our partners as much as they select Advance to support their organization. Throughout those discussions we build a relationship that feels different to our potential partners. The prospect starts to understand very early in our discussions that we are a different kind of organization and the selling/buying process drives separation for us from the other organizations they may be considering. We have had success across many verticals, AEC, Non-Profit, Medical, Legal, etc.
Is there a particular sales methodology that you subscribe to for managed services?
Yes, we have a tight process and we execute it consistently. It’s a combination of a few selling methodologies, solution selling, Sandler etc...
At a high-level, our MSP sales process includes leading with empathy, setting expectations, working together to identify business challenges while building out our value proposition to the customer, and agreement of budget before moving forward with a paid assessment.
Every assessment has a fee, and we use this opportunity to identify more areas of need, problems and also use as a validation tool. This also gives the customer an opportunity to see the level of detail we provide at Advance.For the buyer, when they go through the sales process with us at Advance, it should feel differently.
When working with Advance, prospects should feel there is value in the process, there is value in engaging with us. We will never just throw a quote out, we won’t just lead with “here is the price and we will negotiate down and ultimately be the cheapest option.” We only engage with businesses who want to have a real discussion about getting IT support, and our sales process is really adjusted to revolve around that. We probably disengage with 8 out of every 10 opportunities because they just want a price, or they won’t engage in our selling process – which leads us to believe we are not the best fit to work together. This helps us naturally find the right buyers for our solutions. This is key to Advance being able to scale our business, and hit our margin and MRR goals.
How (if at all) has your MSP sales process changed since COVID-19?
Our sales process has definitely changed, the pandemic has created new challenges for organizations and we have adapted to ensure our prospects feel we are understanding of their situation and are ready to help. We have increased our outreach during this time, but also have changed our messaging, making sure we are authentic, supportive and adding real value to our prospect interactions.
There are still managed IT opportunities available right now, people are still making IT decisions in every one of our markets.
We have to make sure we’re in the right opportunities at the right time. During this time, we are working hard on our outreach to build our pipeline and build trust with buyers.
It’s important to be genuine engaging with prospects, and helping them understand that your goal is helping their business leverage technology in a better way. This activity will help build your pipeline now, so when things begin to open back up, you have stacked opportunities to close.
Even though companies may feel stable working remotely, unfortunately many do not understand what “good looks like” for technology or cybersecurity and will need help with their IT infrastructure. Businesses will evaluate their technology, and people will also be switching providers. By maintaining activity and reaching out, we want to be top of mind to buyers. At Advance, we want to be the option for the right buyers when their ready to make a decision for the long-term IT needs.
What is one thing about sales at Advance you believe that most MSPs would think is crazy?
Some MSPs think we’re crazy because we will walk away from managed services opportunities if we feel the partnership is not a great fit for both sides!
What is one thing you see other MSPs doing that you think is crazy?
Buying the business, and winning fully managed services agreements on price! Also, MSPs who are stopping or slowing activity because of COVID-19, I worry the activity might not be there for them when things do open again.
For other MSPs listening to this, what is one action they can take the next two weeks that will help them increase their level of success?
Increase your outbound activity, gain an understanding of your metrics, be genuine in your desire to help the prospects you reach out too and use a consistent sales process in every interaction with a potential partner.
About Tim West, Vice President of Sales at Advance Business Systems
As Vice President of Sales at Advance, Tim is responsible for establishing and achieving the sales targets to meet all company growth objectives in our Managed Services Division. Developing strategic sales plans based on company goals and market opportunity that will promote consistent sales growth and customer satisfaction. www.advancestuff.com
Proven Sales Process for MSPs
To help MSPs scale their business, Collabrance dedicates a Strategic Business Advisor to help you incorporate best practices in your sales process that result in higher close rates, larger margins and faster growth.