Ask an MSP Expert

Q: We are a fast-paced IT service provider. We are constantly bringing on new customers and adding new solutions to our portfolio. This often presents challenges with communicating new services between our teams—specifically our technical engineers and our sales staff. What is the best way for our engineering team to help the sales staff better position products and services for our customers?

No matter how big or small your business is, communication is key. Particularly when you have a larger IT service business — or a remote team — err on the side of over communication. To effectively bridge the gap between your teams, communication shouldn’t just start or stop when a new solution is added to your solution stack it should be an ongoing process.

To give you some insight to how to better align your teams, we talked to Nathan Bradbury, the sales engineering manager at Barracuda MSP. Nathan works closely with the Barracuda MSP sales and product management teams to make sure everyone is on the same page with how to differentiate the products, what the latest and greatest features are, and what products are on the horizon. Nathan’s advice should help you to better integrate your teams and provide a better experience for your SMB customers.

Improving communication can enhance customer’s experience

While it’s important for your sales team to know the benefits of the products you offer, they don’t need to know everything. As a managed service provider, you should be offering services to your customers — not individual products. With that being said, understanding the difference between a service and a solution, and being able to communicate what you are truly offering, is vital.

Your technical team—or your engineers—might be more interested in how the product makes them more efficient, how easy the product is to implement, and how robust the features are; whereas your sales team wants to know what the overall benefits are for the customer, and how cost efficient it will be. Both teams are looking at different sides of the coin, but neither are wrong. To truly provide a better experience for potential customers, it is important for both teams consider the other perspective. Here are three things you can integrate into your company culture to encourage different perspectives and improve communication:

Offer cross-functional product training. One of the best ways to integrate your teams and encourage them to embrace a different perspective is to invite sales members to join product training sessions. Your sales team might be on the phone with customers all day, but your technicians are on site with them. Both teams need to understand what the process looks like to implement products, what questions usually pop up, and what benefits the customer will see. Having visibility into potential challenges can help both teams navigate conversations with customers smoothly and provide a seamless experience for your SMB customers. 

Trumethods MSP Improvement Plan

Dive into everyday customer scenarios. Go a step beyond product training and have the sales and technical team discuss everyday scenarios they run into with SMB customers. These might include challenges with implementing certain products, different qualification questions the sales team should ask on the phone, and what products may need to be added to complete an offering. For example, technicians might go on site to start the implementation process, but instead, they need to backtrack because of a compatibility issue between a solution and the environment they’re trying to support. To avoid setbacks like this one and create a smoother experience for the customer, it makes sense to have the sales team to ask the right qualifying questions early on. What qualifies a customer to use Product A over Product B? Have this mapped out beforehand to make sure your sales and technical staff are on the same page.

Integrate internal communication tools. Help communication along by finding a real-time communication tool — outside of email — that your teams can use to send quick messages back and forth. For example, Slack or Skype allow teams to communicate quickly and effectively. Integrating tools like this into your workplace environment can help teams continue the conversations beyond product training sessions and discuss real everyday customer scenarios. While an internal communication tool can be helpful, create guidelines on how and when it should be used. That way, for example, someone won’t send a message late at night—unless it is a true emergency

George Bernard Shaw once said, “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that is has taken place.” By using Nathan’s tips, you can remove the barriers to communication between your teams and start enhancing your customers’ overall experience today

Photo:  vectorfusionart / Shutterstock.

Lauren Beliveau

Posted by Lauren Beliveau

Lauren is a content and product marketer with several years of experience in the IT channel. She has created and developed content that helps managed service providers grow their business, and has written many articles featured in SmarterMSP’s The MSP’s Bookshelf and Ask an MSP Expert series.

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