Getting Your Sales Legs
MSP sales is complicated. It takes longer to close on MSP sale than many other selling markets, so you’ve got to have strategies in play that trim the fat from marketing and acquisitions. You’re looking to facilitate a well-oiled machine that generates leads, acquires clients, mixes, repeats, and facilitates increased profitability. To that end, there are five secrets worth getting under your belt and applying to operations. They are:
- Timing – it is everything
- Cherry-picking and cultivating: together
- Marketing and sales integration – “lead warming”
- A customer database that is alive – continuous development
- Follow-ups incorporating variety, education, and repetition (drip marketing)
Timing – It Is Everything
You need to strike when the lead is ripe and leave cold ones alone. To do that, you’ll need a proactive sales team that, in conjunction with marketing, is following up on leads to ensure that needs are met. Some leads are immediately ready to sell; some have no need for your services, but likely will in a year or two when their own burgeoning operation has reached its cruising altitude. You don’t want to push a cold lead or neglect a hot one. Like the time signature on a piece of music, sales has its own time signature that requires skill and practice to master. If you want to get it right, you need marketing and sales people who regularly foray into the lead waters, learning to navigate them. Impart secrets you’ve learned, if you have any, and make all knowledge known to all acquisition personnel.
Cherry-Picking and Cultivating: Together
It’s natural for salespeople to go for a “low-hanging fruit,” as the saying goes, and this is good for your company’s bottom line. It’s also good for profitability. But if only a low-hanging fruit is sought, then the weevils of competition will burrow in and throughout your crop, and eat it before you get a chance to harvest. You must nab the low-hanging fruit, but not neglect that which has yet to pull the branches down. Some of the finest apples are halfway up the tree. Don’t be afraid to sustain a few objection scratches when seeking such fruit; you may find it is the most delicious.
Marketing and Sales Integration – “Lead Warming”
There is a good reason for an MSP sales department and a marketing division to be essentially separate. The marketing is less about the acquisition and more about producing leads which can then be sold. The marketing department tees them up; the sales department knocks the sales ball toward a goal. But there is an additional department not thought about: the “lead warming” department, or the “bat” in this analogy, if you will. There needs to be an internal department who continuously goes down the list of leads and “checks their temperature” to see whether the time is right to “pull them out of the oven.” If your marketing department throws everything into an oven and then doesn’t tell the sales department when the confections are ripe, then your sales cookies are always going to get burned. You need a go-between to check on everything and see what’s doughy and what’s near getting overcooked.
A Customer Database That Is Alive – Continuous Development
Once you’ve acquired a lead that has been converted into a sale, you can’t statically ignore that individual. They must be continuously maintained, checked on, and catered to. If you’re doing your job right, your MSP should be yielding profitability to for clients. Such profitability leads to outward expansion and growth, predicating the need for increased services on your end. Keep your fingers on the pulse of customers, and you’ll be more likely to increase sales revenue.
Follow-ups Incorporating Variety, Education, and Repetition (Drip Marketing)
You want clients of the potential and existing variety to have you in the back of their mind whenever IT is mentioned. To that end, you want to have your warm-up department repetitiously contact them with ideas that have great variety and are educational, thus stimulating future purchases— basically, drip marketing.
MSP sales people using techniques like these will cost-effectively expand businesses. For more details on these five secrets, check out Dan S. Kennedy’s fine book on the topic.