Jul 7, 2017 8:09:49 PM
When I ask MSPs about sales prospecting, it’s sort of like asking them how a toothache is working out.
Getting businesses to move from break/fix to managed services can be a long frustrating journey, and if your customers are small-to-medium sized businesses, we may as well point out the elephant in the room…
Can we just say this out loud? Many businesses will put off a proactive solution for as long as they can, regardless of the many good reasons they have for moving forward. You and I can draft the perfect proposal that satisfies every need and puts an end to the money-wasting, time-sucking cycle of break/fix. They will still find reasons to wait.
Why is that?
Solarwinds MSP makes a great point that companies tend to think delaying an expense is the same as saving money, but there is more to the story than that. Every business owner has blind spots when it comes to value and cost. When we think of our own services, the value is obvious. Our pricing? More than justified, thank you. So why is the guy or gal on the other side of the table so hard to convince?
We might believe we are different from our competitors, but do we sound that way when communicating with customers?
One of the biggest mistakes we make is assuming what buyers care about. Evaluating a managed services solution requires research and thoughtful consideration by key players within an organization. There’s a process going on here, and unless you are interviewing buyers (clients and non-clients) to learn about it, you are missing out on critical insights into how they base their decisions.
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Can you think of times when you rejected a proposal without being completely honest about why? I’ll bet you have. We all do this because we want to end the conversation and move on with our lives, so we say something to the effect of “This is a great plan, but we just don’t have the budget right now. Maybe next year."
Meanwhile, what we are really thinking is, This is a pretty good plan, but it doesn’t have [X], so we are going to pass and go with something else.
Am I right? Differentiating yourself from competitors begins with understanding what’s really going on behind the scenes during the decision making. You have to talk to people who are willing to share:
These are just a few questions that will guide you to the insights you need. Your competitors are probably not doing this, which is a great reason why you should.
If your prospect has a tech person in-house, you are likely facing one of two scenarios: this person views you as a threat to his/her job and is lobbying against your solution, or he/she recognizes they can’t do the job alone and wants you on board.
Even if you have advocates on the inside, they still have to convince upper management your services are worth investing in. The C-suite wants to believe their staff can handle the most critical stuff, and whatever else comes up...comes up.
The worst thing you can do is start pointing out things their technician is doing wrong. Right or wrong, they believe in this person and discrediting him or her will only make you look bad. Most MSPs position themselves as collaborators, ready and able to catch overflow, escalate tickets, and consult on projects as needed, but the question still lingers in the mind of the buyer:
How badly do I really need this?
We know there’s something they aren’t getting out of IT or they wouldn’t be talking to you in the first place. Ask them, if it were a perfect world where they could get everything they wanted from IT, what would change? How would that change benefit the organization (ie. what is the value)?
By getting them to clearly articulate what's missing, you can make sure the proposal focuses on the things that are most important to them. When you present a solution later on, ask them to confirm these pain points and give them time to elaborate. By actively listening and seeking confirmation about feedback they've given, you will establish trust and move them to a signed contract much quicker.
This is a strange objection, but it comes up. Businesses that have taken a few small steps into cloud computing mistakenly assume their security and collaboration challenges are in the past.
It’s pretty hard to find a business that isn’t depending on cloud-based software in some way today, whether through Office 365, Dropbox, or some other third-party app. While it’s great clients are embracing the cloud, it’s important they understand vendor apps do not offer end-to-end security. Forgoing firewalls or leaving end-user machines unprotected are just a few mistakes that leave businesses exposed. Using your website to educate them about these vulnerabilities can help them understand that managed services is more than just migrating stuff to the cloud.
Selling is never easy, nor should it be. Every dollar you make is hard earned, and the same goes for your customers. If you want to increase your closing ratio, try talking to buyers you have no previous relationship with and get an inside perspective on the decision-making process they went through. You will start finding patterns that enable you to anticipate and deal with the "real objections" customers don't talk about. Also, make sure every proposal is centered on aspirations they've openly discussed, rather than showing them a laundry list of services they might not care about.
Sales isn't about getting customers to say yes. It's about weakening every possible "no" standing in your way. By proving you are a better listener than any competitor, you will get the results you are looking for.
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