In my work with MSP business owners, the one topic that seems to cause leaders more consternation than any other is sales meetings.

I can understand why! Many MSP owners, like myself, started their businesses off the back of their strong technical abilities. Selling those services can feel a bit icky — as though you are trying to persuade people to buy from you. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be the case.

When you sit down with a prospective client, try reframing the conversation. You are not trying to sell anything to them. Instead, you should see if they want your help.

For me, reframing this conversation turned sales from something icky into something I enjoyed. After all, most MSP owners start their own business so they can help people!

With that in mind, here are three questions you can ask prospects  to help them determine if your MSP business is the right one to help them.

What is this costing you?

Many prospects will call you to organise a meeting to talk about their problems. This meeting is often the result of the prospective client feeling the pain of the latest episode of their problem — perhaps a faulty server, or a slow network.

The challenge is, by the time you sit with the prospect, they may have forgotten the pain of their experience. You need to remind them of why they have called this meeting!

One way to do this is to ask them “What is this costing you?” in terms of their problem. Help the prospective client understand how much their faulty server is costing their business in downtime. Together, calculate how many working hours they are wasting on slow systems.

It’s also worth remembering that, while the amount of money spent is the most compelling argument in business, the challenges the client is experiencing also have an emotional impact. What does the downtime cost them in frustration, raised blood pressure, and angst between management and staff? Highlighting the emotional cost of the challenges a prospect or client has dealt with is a powerful reminder of why they should want things to change.

What solutions have you already tried?

After providing the reminder, many MSPs will immediately want to jump into problem-solving mode. Don’t do this!

Instead, be patient and ask the prospective client what they have already tried to fix the problem. This conversation will point out some of their reasons why they are speaking to you and not just resolving the problem themselves!

Perhaps they’ve already asked the owner’s tech-savvy nephew to look. Or maybe they’ve already spent hours calling other cheap and cheerful local IT providers into work on the issue.

Don’t jump in with a solution until the prospective client has shared what they’ve already tried with you. Sit and listen. Then, ask them the final question.

How do you see us helping you?

Many MSP owners, being helpful, brilliant technical people, will be itching to provide a solution to their prospective client’s problem at this point of the conversation. However, what you see as the solution and what the client sees as their ideal solution may still be different.

By asking the client or prospect the question “How do you see us helping you?” they will spell out exactly what they want.

“I want you to make sure our server stops crashing.” may be a different conversation to “I want you to take my IT problems away.” The first conversation may end up focusing on replacing a server, while the second conversation may involve a discussion about offering a Managed Service.

Don’t assume that you know what the client wants you to do. Asking the question “How do you see us helping you?” can often reveal the priority the prospective client’s places on working with you.

Always ask questions!

By asking these three simple questions during a sales meeting, you can remind a client of why they’ve called you in for a meeting.

When you ask the client “What have you already tried to fix this?”, you help uncover the history of the problem.

Which of your competitors have they already spoken to? Once again, this will remind the client of the pain they experienced and why they called you.

Finally, by asking “How do you see us helping you?” you don’t make assumptions of what the client wants, but ask them to spell it out. You are effectively helping the client to ask you for your help.

As any MSP owner will know, being asked for your help is a much easier conversation than trying to persuade somebody that they need your help.

Photo: Hafiez Razali / Shutterstock

Richard Tubb

Posted by Richard Tubb

Richard Tubb is a blogger, speaker, and author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the Northeast of England. He provides expert advice to help MSPs grow their IT business, and he has helped the owners of hundreds of MSPs to free up their time, concentrate on doing what is important, and make more money.

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