By Angel R. Rojas, Jr., DataCorps Technology Solutions, Inc.
We’re almost rounding out the first quarter of the year so, how’s your sales pitch? As we know, the sales cycle in the MSP industry can be long. It can be difficult and often marred with many bad experiences because we fail to set expectations, resulting in a loss of control over how we manage the process. So, allow me to offer you three tips on improving your sales pitch and making the sales process smoother to promote a successful result — note a successful result is not always a closed sale (more on that later). With that in mind, let's get started:
1. Go in with confidence -- if you don't believe in what you sell and that you’re helping people with the value you bring to the table, or if you have no confidence in your team and your processes, then that's going to come through in the meetings and engagements. They're going to smell the fear and doubt in your voice, they're going to smell the lack of confidence, they're going to smell the insecurity, and they are not going to buy from you. People can tell when you're not sure of something.
I remember one time, a prospect asked me if I could do the work, and if I had the capacity. I guess he must have sensed something in my responses that made him waiver, so I looked him square in the eyes and told him, "No, not right now, but if you give me the business, I'll go and get it."
You don't have to offer all the right answers; sometimes, people will probe you to discover if you know how to get the answer, are honest enough to say you don’t, or are attempting to deceive. Sometimes the right answer is, “I don’t know at this moment, but I know how to find out.”
2. You don't need the business — I have a couple of ways I look at selling services. First off, it's about fit; if the client or prospect is not going to be a good fit for your business, you don't need it. By fit, I mean many characteristics like personalities, expectations, temperament, etc.
For example, if you don't like receiving text messages in the middle of the night and you're selling to somebody who's going to be texting you at all hours, then it's probably not going to be a good fit and no amount of money for that contract is going to make it worth your while.
However, if you enjoy delivering that type of value which, in my opinion, is a premium service, that prospect could be a perfect fit! Charge them a premium to have that kind of access to you and you’ll both be happy!
The bottom line, if you're desperate for business you're more likely to take on a prospect that is not a good fit. You may need the quick cash or the immediate business, but it will end up costing you in the long run – either a bad experience, an unprofitable customer, or both!
Having the attitude that you don’t need the business frees you up to think logically about the sale. Sometimes walking away is the right answer and the culmination of a successful sales pitch.
3. Don't give anything away — most of us in IT have only one thing we sell… ourselves and our expertise. If you've ever looked at advertising for attorneys, all of them offer a free consultation. When you attend it, you don’t get legal help, you just tell the attorney your problems and they close by saying, "You know, I think you're right. You've got a situation that I can help with, and here's what it's going to cost for me to help you." But they never give away any kind of legal advice.
Many IT Professionals seem to deal with insecurity when selling. For some reason, we feel we must convince our prospects that we’re smart enough to do the job. This is often reflected when we present our sales pitch and our quotes, going into great detail about our solution and we essentially provide the prospect with a prescription on how to solve their problem. Now, they no longer need us and are free to shop it elsewhere.
That's why I don't provide detailed quotes. If I do, or if it's requested, I always charge for it because it's my work product so why would I give that away. When you sell to a prospect, unless you're being paid to develop a scope of work or similar document, don't give away how you're going to solve their problems!
Instead, be very reassuring and confident that you can solve their problem, that you know how to do it, and you know how much it will cost them to get the job done. If you don't know how much it will cost to get it done, possibly because you need to take a deeper look, simply say, "I can solve this problem, that's not an issue; however, I don't know how deep the problem is rooted but here’s what it will cost for me to find out."
Plumbers and mechanics always charge a service call or diagnostics fee… why do we think we shouldn’t?
Here’s a secret… people EXPECT the service charge or diagnostics fee. I think back in the early days of MSPs, we became so desperate to sell the new, shiny, recurring model that we forgot our time is worth money and the initial diagnostics and assessment need to be billed. There are a multitude of ways to do this and we won’t address it here, but the point is simple – don’t give the answer away!
To wrap things up – you should practice your sales pitch! I’ve role-played my sales pitch with other, professional salespeople from differing industries. Get a group together and practice it often, you won’t regret it.
About The Author
Angel R. Rojas, Jr. is President & CEO of DataCorps Technology Solutions, Inc