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Failure to properly manage your sales pipeline creates sluggish growth. The concept seems obvious, but it’s a trap everyone falls into — including our company. We recently noticed that business was going well, but our onboarding workload had slowed considerably. When we took a closer look, we realized we had grown too comfortable in our success.

Over time, our sales team slowly stopped performing those small but critical tasks that impact the sales pipeline. They lost focus, so growth stopped. Maintaining that focus over the long haul is imperative for consistent, sustained growth in your MSP.

An example from the world of football

Merril Hoge, the former Steelers running back, has a story that illustrates this concept perfectly. In Hoge’s first training camp with the Steelers coaching legend Chuck Noll, Hoge noticed that when someone made a mistake on the field, Coach Noll would blow the whistle, send the player into a white van, and then the van would drive off. The player would never return to the Steelers’ practice field.

Hoge was terrified of making a mistake and ending up in the van. On one play, Hoge ran down the left side of the field while the play happened on the right. Coach Noll blew the whistle and shouted, “Hoge, what are you doing?”

Hoge took a second to calm himself. He felt nervous, pale, and sweaty.


“That’s the problem,” replied Coach Noll. “If the wide receiver catches the ball and starts to run, you not doing something means you aren’t there to get a fumble or make a block. I didn’t bring you in to be average or to do nothing. I brought you here to be uncommon in your efforts.”

Coach Noll wanted 100 percent of Hoge’s mental attention and physical effort on each play to overcome the defense and push the ball down the field.

How does this translate to MSP sales?

Coach Noll’s guidance on being uncommon in your efforts applies to your sales efforts in your MSP as well. When business is going well and we’re closing new sales each week, we feel confident. This confidence may tempt us to reduce our cold calls, email blasts, and attendance at networking events. We feel similar temptations when business is going poorly, because we grow discouraged and want to spend less time in the office.

Being uncommon in our efforts means we must push ourselves to perform at a high level — regardless of the latest results. I met a salesman early in my career who insisted on making 50 calls every day because he believed it helped him be successful. To track his progress, he kept two cups on his desk: one with 50 coffee beans and one that was empty. Every time he made a call, he would transfer one coffee bean into the empty cup. My associate refused to leave the office for the day until he moved all 50 beans.

Thanks to his self-discipline, his close rate remained high and he insulated himself from sluggish performance. If he started the day with five great calls, he still had 45 more opportunities. If he started the day with 45 bad calls, he still had five more chances to get a sale before the end of the day. The sheer mass of phone calls ensured an upward trajectory.

While you may find the coffee beans trick useful, it’s not the only sales tactic you can use to become uncommon in your efforts.

Four tactics you can add to your daily routine

  • Set a consistent prospecting and sales goal, then beat it. Meet your goals for the day, then make five more calls, and send five more emails. As the coffee beans demonstrate, your success ultimately comes from the effort you put in.
  • Remain focused and consistent with your daily routine, regardless of whether you’re performing well. Slacking off on the smaller tasks will hurt you in the long run.
  • Make your efforts measurable. No matter how you decide to be uncommon in your efforts, your tactics should be measurable. If they don’t have a positive impact, consider trying something else.
  • Use sales automation tools. The extra assistance will help you remain consistent.

A dedicated focus on growth will make us uncommon in our efforts. As we push beyond the status quo, we’ll close more sales and pull ahead of the competition. Better yet, we ensure our growth remains steady and measurable despite the challenges we’ll face in the future.

Photo: KieferPix / Shutterstock

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Brad Stoller

Posted by Brad Stoller

Brad Stoller is the CEO/Founder of Creativity Counts, LLC. Brad’s in-depth understand of the frustrations that MSP owners and managers go through when trying to keep their businesses growing led him to create a new way. Brad formed Creativity Counts to help MSPs not only find targeted prospects, but also actually help them CLOSE new business through a combination of technology, human interaction, and positioning his clients as true experts in their communities. His company is all about disrupting the old way of costly sales programs and creating new and effective methods and strategies to really help MSP’s, not just giving them another lead generation program.

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