It’s no secret: I’ve hired, managed and worked beside salespeople for more than 30 years. In every industry, I’ve seen salespeople fail for numerous reasons, but the percentage of salespeople I’ve watched fail or fall short of expectations in our industry is much higher that in any other market I’ve worked in — and I think I know why.
Think what I’m saying is preposterous? Think again. Look around you. Are your salespeople performing up to your standards? Are they struggling to generate enough MRR for you. From my experience, there are four reasons why MSP salespeople fail:
MSP salespeople need a gray sales process
Unlike salespeople in other industries, our sales process need to be what I call a gray sales process. Think about it this way: Your services aren’t tangible. Someone selling a phone system has something tangible to offer a customer, and often, the customer already knows what to expect from the sales process. The salesperson doesn’t even have to convince the customer of the phone system’s value. Why? The customer is already aware of what the system can or can’t do. They also know about what a phone system costs. In other words, the sales process is black and white in the mind of the prospect.
Our sales teams don’t have it easy. Let’s be real: They’re stuck walking into an unfamiliar situation to assess pain points on the spot. Oftentimes, even the prospect doesn’t know what’s needed to subdue potential risks. Compared to salespeople selling tangible products, our sales teams have to work a lot harder after walking through prospect doors. There’s a lot of discipline involved in MSP sales process, so the margin for error is small. The sales process is less black and white and more grey. For instance, in my experience, if you shortcut the sales process by presenting and giving the prospect a proposal, your results end up being not good at all.
There’s an issue with selling value
Many prospects don’t understand the value of your services — and that’s a huge pain point for your sales teams. Like I mentioned earlier, unlike tangible products, managed services are a lot harder to sell to prospects, and even though your sales team should know how to craft convincing sales pitches, there still are barriers upfront — and one of these obstacles revolves around value.
Sure, the prospects you’re pitching end up liking what your salespeople have say about your company, services and tools, but the disconnection between your business and its services remains. When this occurs, your prospects will end up going elsewhere or more likely staying with the current provider.
Your sales team can’t create separation in the sales process
Can your sales teams clearly and simply separate your processes and results to the prospects from other alternatives? In other words, can your sales teams make your offering and results more tangible? Oh, and I’m not just talking about the packaging and pricing of your business. Ultimately, the actual service model your MSP delivers is what also matters.
As you know, since Schnizzfest, I’ve been pitching the value in seeing yourself as a technology success provider (TSP) instead of a managed services provider (MSP). The former relies more on roles and processes dedicated to building high-value relationships with customers. Being a TSP allows you to be assumptive about the results in the sales process, which means you can then tie those results back to resources and processes prospects simply understand. This moves the sales process away from the gray scale.
Poor sales management
It’s true: Sometimes salespeople fail because of poor management. Many business owners don’t put salespeople in positions to succeed. For example, some MSP owners require their salespeople generate all of their own leads and manage their sales processes, and I’m telling you now — that’s a recipe for disaster. To make matters worse, these sales teams aren’t given a structure with a solid plan tying activities to results, a playbook to manage their activity and weekly meetings to guide and mentor. The good thing is all of these issues are solvable. You can sell a lot more of MRR without a lot of resources if you understand the MSP sales process and develop it.
While there are plenty of reasons why MSP salespeople fail, there are four top issues impacting your salespeople’s results today. If you can assist with turning the sales process from gray to black and white, show the importance of selling value, reveal how to create the separation in the sales process, and improve your management, your sales team will be selling more MRR at a higher price. It’s up to you to provide the approach.