Q: As an MSP, a difficult part of our sales process is “getting our foot in the door” and attracting follow-up interest from our discovery calls and meetings. What type of approach or strategy should I take to capture more interest?
This problem is not unique to one individual MSP. Often, one of the biggest hurdles MSPs must overcome in their sales process is moving prospects past the initial stage of reaching out to learn more.
Thankfully, Smarter MSP has found the right expert to provide insight on this topic. We sat down with Tim Brien, the director of new partner development at Barracuda MSP, to learn different ways MSPs can overcome this challenge at the beginning stage of their sales process.
Both the MSP and prospect should learn about each other
The key to success with any initial discovery call or meeting is to ensure that proper preparation is done for the meeting. This means you should research the organization’s vertical or industry focuses, key individuals and influencers within the account, and what is important to their customers. Demonstrating to the prospect that you have a preliminary knowledge of the company and space they work in, will put you in a positive position from the start.
Don’t pitch your products or services right away, instead ask them questions to find out where they might be experiencing challenges. Developing that rapport with the client without pitching your services will show that you are there as a partner, listening to their needs.
The first thing you should ask about, is the history of the company and why you, the MSP, are meeting with them today. If you ask the right questions, the prospect should give you the information you need to effectively sell to them. Here are some questions that I suggest asking:
- From an IT standpoint, what are you currently doing?
- Have you or are you currently working with another IT service provider?
- What are the current technology challenges you are facing?
- What are your company goals, short term and longer term?
Common concerns and mistakes
When you are working with specific verticals, there are regulations that need to be followed. If not, there are often extensive business impacts. It’s important to know both the specific regulations for each vertical and what the consequences would be if they aren’t compliant.
As an example, an accounting firm might need to ensure that all corporate tax files are kept for 5 years after the filing deadline, as they could be audited anytime within a five-year period. If they don’t have those files available, the firm could incur expensive penalties because they cannot comply with an audit.
Focusing on the business impact gives you the leverage you need to ensure a company spends the required capital to protect themselves.
A common mistake I see from MSPs in these discovery calls is going right into a “sales” conversation right away – instead of focusing on what they are trying to accomplish.
The risks for MSPs
Not having these questions answered means that you could deliver a final services proposal that is not relevant to the work that your potential client is looking to have done. Additionally, if you have not demonstrated that you understand their business and what impacts it, there could be limited trust in the relationship.
These situations often cause MSPs to over-propose the changes a prospect needs to make right away. This creates a large capital expense for them and an even larger hurdle for you to get them on-board.
My last piece of advice is this: It’s important to think of new clients in terms of a long-term partnership. Articulate to the prospect that rolling out a new or improved state of being for their network is not a short-term fix, but a long-term process. This new state should first address “critical” concerns or issues, then work on long term fixes over time to ensure a stable and secure environment.
Key stakeholders are not the entire business — explore all the needs of the organization. Keep in mind that a company is full of all sorts of different roles with different technological requirements. The key stakeholders do not always know how everyone in the company accomplishes their jobs. It is often beneficial to include small groups around the business, to understand how they accomplish their jobs from day to day.
Discovery calls are all about understanding your prospect and establishing trust. By incorporating Tim’s advice in your sales process, you can strengthen your approach to become the trusted advisor your SMB prospects need.
Photo: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock