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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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10 Discovery Questions to Ask When Selling BDR

Posted August 25, 2016by Mary McCoy

Are you looking to capture additional monthly recurring revenue (MRR) by selling your backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution to more clients? If so, you have to understand the overall sales process and particularly, the Discovery phase, which is meant to help you identify the best candidates for your BDR solution.

To identify those small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with the highest probability of adopting your solution, begin by getting to know them. Uncover their needs by asking the following 10 questions.

Gather Preliminary Information

This first set of questions helps you establish a baseline regarding data management needs. Before you can begin qualifying, you need to know what kind of IT environment you're working with. Are there any constraints? What's the SMB's attitude toward BDR solutions, and do they have a history of backing up data?
 

1. What type of customer records are you storing?

Examples: sales receipts/billing, contact information, private/confidential records

2. How are you currently storing that data?

Examples: physical copies, local laptop/desktop, local server, off-site storage 

3. What regulations do you need to comply with?

Examples: HIPAA, PCI DSS, SOX, HITECH

4. What additional, non-customer related data are you storing on your machines?

Examples: proprietary information/documentation, marketing materials, primary research, competitive data, vendor contracts

Gauge Their Disaster Readiness

At this point in the sales conversation, you should begin asking questions to qualify the prospect. Getting the right answers is all about asking the right questions. What are the right answers? The ones that indicate whether or not the prospect is the right fit for your IT services. You want to weed out any unhealthy candidates that may stall your sales cycle or be "noisy," unprofitable clients down the line. To do this, evaluate their level of disaster preparedness by asking questions that identify whether the prospect needs a business continuity solution. Often, these questions are ones prospects haven't even thought to ask and trigger that "aha!" moment you're looking for in order to close them into clients later.

5. What problems have you faced in the past related to data loss or corruption?

Asking this question gives you historical context that can help you judge a prospect's disaster readiness. It introduces any problems you may be walking into if you sign the client, and helps you later cater your sales pitch or presentation toward real-life scenarios that the prospect can relate to.

6. What percentage of your standard business operations would be impacted if your records/data were temporarily unavailable or deleted?

Asking hypothetical questions like this is a useful MSP sales tactic! By asking this question, you should hope to have your prospect recognize the value of their data. At the same time, the answer they provide can help you judge whether the SMB has a need you can fill and is therefore worth pursuing.

7. How long could you keep your business running without access to your data?

Again, the benefit here is twofold. You get the qualifying answer in discovering if the SMB will benefit from your solution. And at the same time, you gain an opportunity to explain the typical, severe repercussions of prolonged downtime after a disaster.

8. What is your current plan for protecting the integrity and security of your data?

Like the previous sales discovery question, this one helps you position your value proposition as your clients' virtual CIO (vCIO). More often than not, the SMBs you talk to won't have any kind of business continuity plan or disaster response procedure in place. They don't have the time or in-house expertise to compile and manage such a framework. This is where you can really shine as their advisor. If the prospect has no business continuity plan, you can explain the reasons for developing one, walking them through the initial steps of creating and testing it. If the prospect has already implemented a disaster recovery (DR) plan, listen as they provide the details. Don't discount prospects that claim they already have a DR plan. They may be mistaken, it may not be in use or it may require significant improvement that you can provide as their vCIO. 

9. What are your top priorities as far as data backup and disaster recovery is concerned?

This is a general catch-all to help you understand a prospect’s general mindset about the value of BDR and what they think you can provide. It's also a more direct question that can help you determine whether a prospect has benefited from having a BDR solution in the past. Perhaps in expressing their priorities, the prospect expresses dissatisfaction with a competitive service. This not only gives you a leg up, but helps you tailor your proposal and eventual onboarding process to best serve the SMB. 

Steer The Conversation Back Toward Purchase Intent

The best way to do this is to first ask the prospect what their previous purchases were and what the return was. Notice the subtle difference between asking "Are you interested in buying from me?" and this last, better question:
 

10. What investments have you made in hardware/storage over the last four to five years?

If the prospect has made recent investments in hardware or physical storage, this should signal to you that they likely understand the value of data integrity/security and are willing to make investments (such as cloud storage) to ensure that their data is safe. If they have not made recent investments in this area, the SMB likely needs your BDR services. Now, while this is also a favorable outcome, understand that they may need more convincing to see the overall value of your business continuity services. As a result, your sales cycle may be extended.
 

When selling BDR, you have to get to know the prospect and their business needs first. Modern, client-centric sales involves talking with, NOT talking at, SMBs. The ten discovery questions shared in this post should help you start that dialogue, pinpoint worthwhile, high-close prospects and move them further along through the MSP sales journey. Once you know who to target your sales presentation and proposal to, you'll have all of the necessary information to personalize your offering to their individual needs.

Need help strengthening your sales deck? Leverage key industry data captured in this chart depicting the need for business continuity and data management!


And for additional BDR sales help, arm yourself with sales and marketing collateral like:

Business-Continuity-Content-Pack-Blog-Download

Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Demand Generation Programs Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary primarily manages the MSP Blog and has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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