By Ted Roller, Zomentum
Most managed services providers (MSPs) are technologists first and sellers second. But that's not how you close deals. You close deals by selling results. You close deals by selling how a solution will change their work lives.
Imagine that it was your job to convince a caterpillar to go into a cocoon for months. What would you say? You’d talk about how cool it is to be a butterfly! Instead of sharing the gory details of metamorphosis wherein the caterpillar hangs upside down, molts, and digests itself, you’d skip to the ultimate benefit.
Similarly, your customers want to hear about outcomes. So, when pitching, skip over the details – speeds and feeds, parts and processes, packages and pricing, etc. Instead, focus on long-term results.
With that in mind, position your solution to have a lasting impact on the following three areas that matter most to C-suite decision makers.
Business leaders are under constant pressure to maintain positive company culture, especially after the increase in employees who work from home on a part- or full-time basis. If you find the connections between your solutions and your customer's culture, you'll improve your chances of winning.
Perhaps your solutions enable a more collaborative environment for distributed workers. C-suite leaders are challenged to provide communication solutions to keep remote employees connected and engaged. If your solutions address this need, speak to the positive cultural impact they will have by enabling better collaboration or supporting work-life balance by enabling work from anywhere.
Collaboration solutions are an obvious example, but technology can empower companies to enable any number of benefits that will impact the company culture. It's your job to figure out what they're trying to achieve and how you can support that vision.
Pro Tip: Mention how vital a positive work culture is to employee retention, another pain point for business leaders amidst the Great Resignation.
Security is another hot-button issue for business decision makers. It's also another opportunity to win by demonstrating long-term benefits. Most MSPs talk about each security risk and the product the customer needs to solve them. This approach only opens the door for customers to reject individual point solutions they think they don't need to keep costs low. Keep that door closed.
Recognize that high-level decision makers don't care how your solutions work, they only want assurances that their data is safe and that they can recover quickly from a breach.
There are only two questions you should ask to get your customer to zero in on the long-term impact of their buying decision: "How important is your data? What would happen if you lost it?" The answers to these questions will be some variation on "very important" and "nothing good," respectively.
This exchange begins a completely different conversation, elevated toward C-level goals. From there, you can identify where your customer's most critical data is stored and share statistics about what happens to companies that experience breaches in this area. Then, ask if they want "minimum," "average," or "maximum" security. Rarely will someone say their data requires only an "average" level of protection, and they'll never choose "minimum!"
Again, skip the technical explanations of how security solutions work and instead paint a picture of the potential outcomes: "more protection and less worry" or "greater redundancy and less downtime."
Pro Tip: With so many looming threats, business leaders know a data breach is a very real possibility. When selling security, protective measures are table stakes, so steer the conversation toward cyber-resilience and demonstrate how your solutions also will enable customers to recover quickly and with minimal impact.
When focusing on efficiency, understanding the vertical to which you're selling can be a huge advantage. Specializing in a vertical market – or even a horizontal discipline like HR or finance, etc. – enables you to understand how your solutions help improve a business's day-to-day operations and long-term success. (Not to mention that repeat business in a specific vertical is great for relatable testimonials and filling your funnel with referrals!)
To be successful in selling efficiency, incorporate your expertise along with your technology solutions into your value proposition. For example, if you are a dental industry expert, you understand dentistry, how dentist offices operate, how to integrate with industry software, and exploit back doors to support lines. You're the single hand to shake for dental technology.
You're not selling disparate parts and programs; you're selling integrated solutions that have helped your other clients improve operational efficiency and reach their goals. Zero in on the long-term impact of employees working more efficiently together to convince decision makers that your solutions are the right ones for them.
Pro Tip: No vertical? Not so fast. You might have experience within your ranks from which to build a vertical specialization. Ask your employees where they've worked in the past? You might find staff members who have worked in education or manufacturing or have family in the legal industry. Background knowledge and access to a network in a particular field can lead you down the right path.
Shifting your sales focus to long-term outcomes starts by asking your existing customers about the benefits they've experienced and weaving those stories into your sales process. Then, you can have real conversations about how you can make a difference in your customers' businesses. Soon, you'll find that selling is no longer "selling;" it's consulting and helping.
Forget about cost. Forget about technology. Remember the long-term value of improving culture, security, and efficiency. That will get your customers' attention and seal the deal.
About The Author
Ted Roller is Channel Chief for Zomentum, creators of the first Revenue Platform for technology partners, and also CEO of GetChanneled, a channel sales and marketing consultancy. With technology sales and solutions provider experience that spans three decades, Roller serves as an advisor for growing MSPs all over the world. Roller's company, GetChanneled, is a "virtual channel chief," enabling quality cloud-based software companies to effectively engage the SMB channel, lower their cost of customer acquisition, increase their market reach and improve end user satisfaction.