6 Secrets Every MSP Sales Professional Should Know
The year 2020 was the most disruptive to life globally than any other year in current memory. The world watched in amazement as the COVID-19 pandemic struck terror into millions of American lives and the tiny virus upended the way companies do business. Almost overnight, millions of US workers were kicked out of in-office employment. The lucky ones were relocated as remote workers, some in their own homes. Managed Service Providers (MSP) were in the thick of the sudden change.
The following paragraphs describe six skills that help an MSP build better client relationships and increase sales without the need to concentrate as hard on selling.
Secret #1: Listening Is Your Greatest Skill
Like all humans, MSP clients want a service provider that really listens to them. They want a service provider that respects their time. And it’s an easy thing to give them. Listening tells you what the client believes their immediate needs are. Respecting appointment times by showing up on time and setting realistic project goals tells the client you care more about helping them than just making sales. Tommy Wolosin from Net Works describes what he believes most businesses want:
“…somebody to be intentive [sic] to their activities, somebody to actually return a phone call…to think about [customers who wait- ed] from 8-5…only to realize that there was no appointment scheduled…”
There are two questions you can ask clients to help get to know them and increase the opportunities to provide them with the precise help they need, not necessarily what they directly identified:
I hate it when I have to…
I wish I could…
The client’s responses to those two scenarios allow an MSP to help with more than technology. The MSP becomes a trusted partner who listens and learns the client’s greatest fears and wildest dreams. It means the MSP can help the client not just with technology but can help:
Allay the client’s anxiety about future plans,
Educate the MSP about the client’s end game and how their business is going.
Your knowledge about the new technology that they will require and that you will need to provide comes from your understanding of those issues. In this context, it is vital that you understand that clients often operate under a mindset that tells them their fear of change is worse than their fear of pain.
Secret #2: “Break-Fix” Does Not Work
Many MSPs operate under what is known as a “break-fix” approach to business. In practical terms, that mindset means that clients continuously lurch from one technological breakdown to another. Those MSPs afflicted with this mindset may mistakenly think that more breakdowns mean more opportunity for sales by the MSP. The problem is that break-fix does not work for the client. The approach is short-sighted and stifles the client’s growth as well as the MSPs.
“If my business is successful based on your failure, then we are both losing.” — Tommy Wolosin, Net Works
A successful MSP practice means adopting the philosophy of wanting things to work for clients because then it follows that the MSP gets more referrals from happy clients.
Secret #3: Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Don’t wait for clients to come to you when something breaks down. Keep in contact monthly with inquiries into how well the client’s business is going. Video calls make it seem more personal. Setting up friendly, half-hour phone calls on the same day each month keeps the MSP in the know about:
Anticipated mergers & acquisitions,
Plans the client has for moving into new office space, or
The possibility of workers moving in and out of remote situations.
Proactive practice allows you to anticipate and prepare for the upgrades in technology and other MSP services that will inevitably flow from those situational modifications. Take excellent care of your existing clients, and the new clients will seek you out.
The same technique, by the way, applies to supporting MSP team members. Five minutes of stand-up chats in the morning and again each evening help management keep apprised of how MSP teams are doing, who has fires to squelch, and who is swamped and needs help from others on the teams.
Your clients and your teams are your greatest assets. Take good care of them.
Secret #4: Be a Partner, Not a Vendor
Vendors carry on transactional activity that adds value to a business’s growth. They are an important part of a business’s day-to-day activity.
Partners, on the other hand, are more interested in bonding with clients; they are relationship-driven. Partners strive to help with issues not necessarily related to IT technology. For example, MSPs that act like client partners may introduce the client to trusted partners from a business segment unrelated to the MSPs line of business in order to help eliminate a client pain point.
” I will shy away from businesses that don’t want to be my partner because in the end it is not going to be a good long-term relationship…” Tommy Wolosin, Net Works
Secret #5: Build it, They Will Come
If you take care of current clients, the new business will come your way through referrals from happy clients. You accomplish both of those things by:
Open lines of communication,
Transparency on client invoices and in your billing system,
Providing long-term, long-haul service,
Building relationships that generate new business,
Helping clients anywhere you can, even with issues not necessarily technology-related.
“…sit down with a client and talk about life for a little bit, [ask them – ed] what are your interests, what are you passionate about outside your business… it makes that one- to two-dimensional relationship three to four dimensional… If you’re not in that kind of open rapport, I think the communication gap becomes much more extended.” — Tommy Wolosin, Net Works
Consider doing an on-site review to give the client an idea of how the MSPs services will work for them. Tell them what the MPS will need to do on-site, and what the teams can do remotely. Assure them that here’s what the changes look like, and the changes are easier than you think.
Secret #6: The Future Post-COVID
Training clients will take on an increased emphasis post-COVID. Having an MSP who can help with questions about Zoom, about how Teams will address issues that their teams face every day, is a real plus for clients. They want to how they will manage when work from home continues in 2021. MSPs have to have the answers that assure them about their business’s continuity.
“To keep good talent are going to have to adapt their strategies around COVID-19 and around the work from home initiatives….” Tommy Wolosin, Net Works
For those MSPs interested in selling cybersecurity services in today’s intensive cyber threat environment, you may enjoy the March 2020 article from mspinsights.com entitled “4 Predictions About Managed Security”.
A Special Invitation to You
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Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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