Q: I set up a sales call with an SMB and need some tips on how to begin the conversation. Should I just launch into my sales pitch? What advice can you offer me on what to say and what not to say? I don’t want to come across too pushy and mess up the opportunity.
Deep breaths! Just change the way you look at the call. See it as an opportunity to start building a relationship with a new SMB, not a high pressure sales call. Just relax. There’s no need to be intimidated.
So what can you do to prepare for the call? Research the company and the person you’ll be speaking with to better understand their background and interests. Do your homework. Read up on their business. Who are their competitors? What’s trending in their industry? By doing this preliminary research, you’ll be able to identify possible challenges they’re facing and prepare yourself for an opportunity to pitch your services as a solution for these challenges. Better yet, doing your homework will give you the confidence to make it a successful conversation.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the company, it’s time to pick up the phone.
We sat down with Jonathan Almonte, a senior account executive at Intronis MSP Solutions and asked him how he starts sales calls with prospective MSP partners.
From the start, you’ll want to establish trust with the prospect by putting their needs before your own. Position yourself as a partner, not a vendor. Show them that you’re an expert in managed services and are available to help them grow their business. Start the conversation by telling them what your company does and the services you offer that you think may be of interest to them. Be direct and concise.
Listen and ask questions
Once you’ve established who you are, begin asking open-ended questions. A nonassertive introductory question could be, “Tell me about your business. What are you hoping to do this year?” By opening up with this question, you’ll be able to find out more about their business objectives and goals.
After I’ve gotten the general company overview from a prospect, I ask more specific questions like, “What challenges do you face on a daily basis?” and “What regulations do you have to comply with?” These types of questions will let you see where improvements could be made. (For more potential questions, replay this webinar and listen to Raj Khera detail how to start a productive sales call.)
At this point, I like to ask a few qualifying questions. Something like, “What types of technologies do you rely on in your day-to-day business operations?” This kind of question helps you determine whether or not your services would be a good fit for their needs.
Keep yourself in check during the conversation by asking, “Am I talking too much or too quickly?” And remember the value in pausing. Those few seconds of silence might seem a bit awkward, but they will prompt the prospect to speak up and take control of the conversation.
Identify pain points
Give the SMB a chance to ask follow-up questions and offer feedback. Provide them with any additional materials that may be helpful. Is there an e-book or infographic you can share that offers insight into a problem they’re facing? Is there a part of your website that explains a regulation they need to comply with? Supplying them with educational content is another way to position yourself as their partner, not just their vendor.
We hope these tips help you feel more comfortable starting that sales call. But we’re curious, how would the rest of you approach an initial sales conversation with an SMB? Would you do anything different than what we suggested? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.