Long sales cycles can be a challenge for MSPs. If you are counting on an increase in recurring revenue from new managed service clients to offset monthly expenses, to enable company growth or to help support a new project, any delays in closing sales can derail your plans and cause tension between management and sales reps.
A common obstacle MSP sales teams face is lack of urgency. There are ways, however, to help prospects realize their needs are urgent. Here are six ways your sales reps can avoid hearing “Follow up with me next quarter” at the end of a sales call.
- Plan what you will say before you call. Before speaking with a prospect, do your research. Find out exactly what the company does and if it must comply with regulations that address areas such as cloud backup, business continuity or security. Also learn what you can about the business, such as whether it has plans for expansion or if it has faced specific challenges like data loss.
Research will give you an idea of which direction the initial meeting is likely to go and allow you to be prepared to talk through pain points, overcome objections and make relevant offers. It will also save time, which can help them move through the sales cycle faster.
- Ask questions and then listen. Even though you’ve done your homework, you should not assume you know it all. You need to ask questions and listen to learn exactly what the company’s needs are, including shortcomings with their current systems or providers.
It’s wiser to talk pain points, not products, to gain a full understanding of what the prospect needs. For example, are they looking for ways to reduce CAPEX or to comply with regulations? Do they need stronger security? Uncovering real needs creates a sense of urgency.
- Be a problem solver. Once you define the prospect’s problems, explain how you can fix them with the services and solutions you provide. Explain how SaaS can turn a CAPEX into OPEX or how a firewall can improve security. Tell them specifically how your MSP can solve the problem — and not just by providing the solution, but also with the unique value your company adds.
Provide the information the prospect will need if they are comparing services with your competitors, and be ready to explain how partnering with you is the best value.
- Address or create the timeline. Does the prospect need a solution in place before the next compliance audit? Do they need to prove to higher-ups that past problems with data loss will not recur? Discuss funds available for the project and, if budget is a problem, ask if there is a way you can help with financing or by providing solutions as a service.
Also consider giving your sales reps options to make limited-time offers, such as free trials, introductory discounts or additional services added to a bundle. A deadline on a special offer may help the prospect decide the time is right to buy.
- Get your foot in the door. With prospects who seem reluctant to partner with you for a complete managed IT services plan, consider offering to start with just one service, or even to begin with a one-time or break-fix project. Although it’s not a full managed services contract, it gives you the opportunity to demonstrate the value you can bring to the prospect’s organization and provides additional opportunities to upgrade them to the full service plans you provide.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a signature. There is no reason you can’t ask for a sale early in the sales cycle. This strategy lets you hear objections earlier rather than later, so you can address them earlier in the process. The best-case scenario: they say yes sooner.
There is one more thing you can do to help shorten sales cycles — take advantage of sales training and resources offered through your vendor partners. You can leverage their expertise and use best practices proven to work for their solutions. For example, the Intronis Partner Toolkit includes materials such as calling scripts, sales scenarios, and other information that helps sales reps control conversations with prospects and sell cloud backup against on-site and consumer solutions. Use all the tools available to you to shorten the sales cycle and help your business grow faster.
About the Author:
Neal Bradbury is Senior Director of Business Development for Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda, a provider of backup and data protection solutions for managed services providers, where he is responsible for generating greater business value for the company’s MSP partner community and alliance partners.
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