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Let’s be honest, MSPs don’t have a great track record when it comes to sales. Most MSPs have been able to grow by referral because our addressable market has been very forgiving. Our prospects are bigger and the economy has been growing for 14 years, so our customers have been growing as well. But if you take a closer look at MSP sales results, very few have a predictable sales engine that generates a steady flow of new monthly recurring revenue (MRR) at the right price. If you look for an MSP with a functioning sales engine that is not owner-led sales, the group becomes even smaller.

Why is this the case? Why can’t MSPs sell successfully? Why are MSP salespeople having issues with producing results?

MSPs must learn to adopt ‘Sales-as-a-Second Language’

First things first, part of the story is not industry specific. Most entrepreneurial businesses are started by technicians. In this case, MSPs are started by IT people that know IT. What does this mean? It means that ‘sales’ is not your first language. But many other industries have a higher percentage of owners that figure this out. Why is it harder for MSPs?

In most industries, qualified leads are generated and then it is the salesperson’s job is to close those leads. At TruMethods, we do a lot of thought-leadership around the challenges MSPs and their SMB customers face, meaning the person that is called by our Inside Sales team has already ‘raised their hand’ in some way. By the time appointments are set for the Outside Sales team, every lead is qualified.

Both discipline and skills should be mastered

Now, let’s think about the MSP sales process. If you have an inside salesperson, they are mainly calling prospects who have not ‘raised their hand’ from some sort of marketing initiative. They send a lead to the outside salesperson that is considered ‘very cold.’ Next, we must factor in that we sell an intangible product. This creates a sales process that requires discipline and skills that very few owners can master. Because they can’t master it themselves, they are then unable to teach someone else.

I developed the TruMethods sales process to put a framework in place that would not only increase MSPs’ chances of success but also help MSPs build very valuable businesses.

Creating ‘warm’ prospects requires thought leadership

One main solution to MSP sales struggles is to have a marketing engine that generates leads, so salespeople are dealing with ‘warmer prospects.’

Many MSPs hire a salesperson and expect them to generate all their leads on their own and then close them, and they are then surprised when they fail. Until recently, this was a hard problem to solve, mainly because it was difficult to do thought leadership when prospects were not as interested in what we had to say. This is drastically different today.

SMB leaders are very interested in security risks, leveraging technology, ROI on technology, compliance, work from home, business intelligence, and other trending topics. MSPs can now build an inbound marketing process based on this desire for thought leadership. As MSPs increase leads, sales conversation rates will also increase, and the skill and discipline of a sales resource will become less demanding. I see this happening in some larger MSPs that have a dedicated marketing team.

This is a very important concept to understand if referrals are your main source of leads today. Referrals may not be as valuable to your sales engine moving forward. Fewer referrals may be good prospects for you as the market changes. This means that MSPs need to generate their own qualified leads.

This is a topic we will be discussing in our TruPeer peer groups this year. We will also be leveraging Powered Services Pro resources to help our members build a stronger marketing engine.

For more information on TruMethods’ newest peer accountability group, TruPeer, click here.

To learn more about Powered Services Pro, click here.

Photo: Monster Ztudio / Shutterstock

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Gary Pica

Posted by Gary Pica

Gary Pica is a pioneer in the managed services field. He is one of ChannelPro's 20 industry visionaries and MSP Mentor's most influential leaders. He has already built two top-performing MSPs. Today, Gary is the President of TruMethods, a training, peer, and accountability firm aimed at helping IT solution providers reach their full potential as MSPs and cloud providers. Gary shares the key ingredients that transformed his business and his life through his training process. Today, hundreds of IT providers around the world utilize the TruMethods business transformation framework.

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