Sales hunting is a critical role for managed service providers (MSPs). The first sales role most MSPs hire is an appointment setter or an outside salesperson whose primary responsibility will be prospecting for new clients.
Before you hire, it’s important to decide which skills you are searching for in a candidate. If you already have a salesperson on staff, these are the skills you want to be sure your rep possesses. They are especially critical in the 2023 sales landscape when businesses are being more cautious about their expenditures, and gaining access to new prospects can be challenging.
The sales hunting skills you need
These are the foundational sales prospecting abilities that come to mind when you hear “sales hunter.” Is the salesperson consistently prospecting? Are they getting appointments with the target prospects we want them to reach? Are they maintaining a robust pipeline?
2. Handling rejection
Cold calling is more than picking up the phone. Think of it as all the methods a rep will use to connect with a prospect. Whether they’re picking up the virtual phone, emailing, or reaching out on LinkedIn, hunting is challenging right now. Does your rep bounce back quickly from prospect rejections? Or does the rejection cause them to withdraw because they can’t face another call? Your salesperson can’t let the increased rejection stop them from prospecting.
3. Need for approval
Selling is a tough job. When your rep is worried about whether a gatekeeper or decision maker will like what they have to say, they’ll hold back. They won’t ask direct qualifying questions. Many MSP reps will ask budget questions but are uncomfortable pushing for important ROI information. While you don’t want a salesperson with no empathy, you want one who will ask tough questions, have tough conversations, and make tough recommendations.
4. Commitment, outlook, and responsibility
Commitment means that your salesperson is dedicated to doing whatever it takes, within legal bounds, to succeed. No giving up!
Outlook means they believe they can be successful. They feel good about the potential to succeed even when they hear, “We already have an MSP” repeatedly. Optimism makes all the difference in this type of role.
You can’t take full responsibility for your rep’s success, nor do you want to. Responsibility means that when things don’t go their way, reps take charge of their own success.
5. Figure-it-out factor
This is a salesperson’s capacity to grasp and implement the training and coaching you provide to enhance their skills. If we’re coaching them on overcoming their need for approval and managing rejection, can they quickly adapt and apply what they’ve learned? When you know their figure-it-out factor, you know how long your rep will take to learn what you’re teaching.
6. Reaching decision-makers
In sales hunting, reaching decision-makers is about gaining access. Your salesperson should contact decision-makers and engage them in strategic conversations. In 2023 it’s especially crucial for your salesperson to connect at the top level. Decision-making has moved up in organizations. That’s where they’ll learn which initiatives a company is concentrating on.
Based on what they discover when speaking with the decision maker, the rep can determine if there is a genuine opportunity now, next quarter, or next year. Maintaining a pipeline three times your quota is not enough with extended sales cycles. You need a pipeline that’s 5-to-7 times your goal, depending on the market you’re selling to. You need a salesperson who has strategic business conversations and, in the process, qualifies if now is the appropriate time to start working together.
8. Consultative selling
Prospects aren’t as open to speaking with companies they don’t know, so consultative selling is an important facet of hunting in 2023. That strategic business conversation I mentioned in the qualification section above is a consultative conversation. When a salesperson can have a consultative discussion, business owners will stop and speak with them.
According to Objective Management Group, only 11 percent of salespeople in North America have strong consultative sales skills. Too few companies invest in consultative selling training, yet it is perhaps one of primary skills that makes a hunter selling services successful.
9. Hunting process
Cold calling and prospecting challenges are intense this year. Sales reps can’t give up. They must be persistent. When you hire a salesperson, you expect them to bring their knowledge of the sales process. When you hire a hunter, you expect them to have a hunting process, but that’s not always the case. Fifty-one percent of sales reps struggle with following a sales process consistently. Your hunter must follow a consistent approach, such as the Bloodhound Follow-up Strategy, with unwavering diligence to establish connections and gain access to new prospects.
As a sales manager, you spend a lot of time coaching your rep. If you’re banging your head against the wall, wondering why your coaching isn’t sticking, it’s either the figure-it-out factor or coachability.
In today’s market, your salesperson should not face selling challenges alone. They need coaching to adapt their prospecting approach. The value proposition that worked last year may be ineffective this year. They may need some motivation, like using games to make prospecting fun. Being open to guidance is essential. That’s coachability. Successful hunters are coachable and open to new strategies and approaches.
There is new business For MSPs in 2023
2023 started as a challenging year for hunters, but there is business to be had. Even today, looking at the past month, I see businesses opening up and taking more prospecting inquiries. There are more inbound leads and referrals.
It’s as if business owners are realizing that since they survived COVID, they can also survive inflation and market volatility. They need to do what’s right for their companies and can’t avoid making smart investments. They need quality IT support to run their businesses effectively.
Encourage your reps to keep prospecting. If you’re the one doing the prospecting, keep at it. There is new business to be had for MSPs.
If you’re uncertain about the hunting skills on your team, contact us, and let’s schedule a time to talk about what you’re seeing and how you can develop the hunting skills your business deserves.
Photo: Andrii Yalanskyi / Shutterstock