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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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How to Build a Stellar MSP Sales Team

Posted July 13, 2016by Nick Merola

As technology continues to dominate today’s business world, companies are frequently turning to managed service providers (MSPs) for help in implementing and strategizing their IT systems. This means there are big opportunities in the world of managed services, but it’s not as simple as just being an MSP. In order to grow with the market and stay competitive, you need to effectively sell yourself and your managed services.

We’ve written about tips for hiring top sales people, but how do you put these employees together to build a stellar sales team? We’re glad you asked!

Before you start assembling your MSP sales team, it’s important to outline your goals – from both a sales perspective and a company perspective. Here are some questions you should consider:

  1. How are you positioned in the market? Is your go-to-market messaging clear? What is the story your sales team would tell about your MSP business aside from the features?

  2. Do you have a marketing team? Having a sales team without a marketing team is like having wide receivers without a quarterback. One common mistake companies make is they hire a sales team and expect those sales people to simply produce leads and sales on their own. Aligning your sales and marketing teams will help you generate higher quality leads and lower the cost of customer acquisition.

  3. Is your offering productized? That’s a funny question, right? Although you may be selling managed services, make sure you can bundle your services in appropriate packages for prospective clients to understand and evaluate. This will make selling the value of your IT platform much easier for your sales team.

That’s a fair amount to think about before you start putting together your sales team. Let’s assume that you’ve nailed all of the points above and it’s now time to put together that world-class sales team. Here are some of the finer points you will need to consider to make this happen.

 

Hire Sales People, Not Techs

Let’s make one thing clear from the very onset here: finding good sales people is tough. And that’s just to find one. Your goal is to find a whole team that can crank up your sales engine and drive your business towards major growth.

One tip to keep in mind is that you should be looking for salespeople, not tech people. Sales is a job that takes a certain personality and endurance. Although you’re selling tech services, it’s much easier to teach a sales person to speak “tech”, versus teaching a tech person to do sales.

A few characteristics you should look for in a sales person include:

  • Strong work ethic

  • Strong personality

  • Positive attitude

  • A lot of energy

Most people can learn industry jargon in a few months, but not everyone can sit in an office and make calls all day. To create a successful sales team, you need to invest in the right people. Hire on intangibles first, versus expertise, because this will benefit you in the long run.

 

Build the Right Environment

Churn is inevitable in sales, but minimizing churn can save you lots of time and resources. If your sales team isn’t happy they will simply pack up and leave. Building the right environment will keep your sales team content, and there are a couple ways to do so.

Sitting in an office and making calls for eight hours straight is a very tough task. You can lessen the burden by finding ways to break up the day and celebrate the successes of individuals and the whole team. A fun example you can do is to keep a dartboard in the office, and every time a sales rep sets up an appointment, they get a shot at the board and win their score in dollars. This is a simple exercise, yet it rewards their efforts and can give them motivation for further success.

Here are some other ideas you can incorporate to build a positive sales environment:

  • Have a strong compensation plan – As an MSP, you need the right compensation plan to yield the best results from your sales team. Salespeople are about money, so if you try to go cheap on the comp plan you will never keep the best. A successful plan is one that aligns the business interests with the interests of the your MSP sales rep. Money isn’t everything to salespeople, but it counts for a lot.

  • Develop leads for them – Everyone likes a warm lead over a cold lead. A strong content marketing strategy can help drive prospects to your website and warm up leads for the sales team. The more you can do to help the sales team sell, the more success they will have and the more likely they will be to stay.

  • Encourage Collaboration –Most sales people are competitive by nature, which is a good thing. Oftentimes, sales people will feed off each other, especially if they are finding success. You need to make sure that this feeding is not just competitive, but also collaborative. This leads nicely into our next point…

 

Set Team Goals

Don’t just set individual goals, but set team goals as well. You want your sales team to be a well-oiled machine working towards an end goal, not just a group of individuals jostling for leads and deals. Setting team goals allows your reps to work as a unit and celebrate each other’s success. 

Aim to set high yet attainable goals for your sales team, and get buy-in from each of your reps on what is considered reasonable. This will make them feel like a valued member of your company. Be sure to share your results with your sales team and also with the whole organization.

Another good strategy to promote collaboration is to incorporate team building exercises. This doesn’t mean you need to take your team on a week-long excursion through the woods to build character, but there are many simple ideas things you can do to promote team bonding – even if it’s just taking them out for drinks after work one night. Here are some examples of what you should not do!

 

Hire from Within

A great way to keep your sales reps motivated is to hire from within. Make it known that you reward good work and award promotions to people who have earned it. Hiring internally keeps your reps motivated and also cuts down on unnecessary ramp-up and training time.

In order to make this work, make sure your reps are aware that they have the chance to be promoted and that you have a rough career path outlined. If they don’t see themselves going anywhere, they won’t be motivated to work harder.

 

A.B.C – Always Be Collecting

No, not the famous line from GlenGarry Glen Ross, “Always Be Closing”. But you should always be collecting…contact information, that is. You never know when you might need to make a new sales rep hire, whether that’s due to your team growing or someone leaving. Therefore, you should always try to collect business cards of candidates, even if you don’t have any open positions. If you do need another rep at some point, you’ll have a collection of names to turn to, rather than starting from scratch.

As you may have guessed, building a successful sales team is not a simple task. Regardless, it is a critical component of growth for MSPs, and it’s important to not only hire good people, but to build a strong sales team that works together.

 

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