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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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5 Ways to Overcome Objections When Selling Managed Services

Posted December 14, 2016by Lane Smith

Objection Handling When Selling Managed Services.jpg

An important part of the sales cycle, objections act as queues that indicate where you are in any given deal.

 If you’re not hearing them, your prospect is either:

  • Not interested
  • Not listening
  • Not understanding
  • Or not at the right level

Receiving objections is key to closing deals and should be considered an opportunity to demonstrate your value, rather than a warning to forfeit the sale. As long as you know how to effectively address objections and do so early on, you can accelerate your sales cycle and increase close rates. Overlooking and failing to handle objections, however, will ultimately lead to lost sales. That's why it is absolutely critical that you accept the challenge and prepare yourself to transform every sales objection into a sales win!


Objection Handling Tips When Selling Managed Services

Objection handling starts with listening, which is often a problem for most of us who might prefer to carry the sales conversation using a pre-defined script instead. Rather than listen we tend to spend most of our time thinking about what to say next. We hear what we want to hear and are quick to assume we understand a prospect's objection. Unfortunately, in rushing to tell the customer “everything we know,” or think we know, we don’t always resolve the issue. We either fail to adequately respond to the sales objection or miss it altogether.

So, what should you do differently on your next managed services sales call? Listen and ask questions to uncover the “true objection.” Confirm that you've solved the prospect's problem and assure them you'll follow up with answers to any questions you're unable to answer at that moment. You can communicate the benefits of your managed IT services at a later, more appropriate time. First, you have to make sure you hear what your potential clients are telling you.  

To break the habit of listening to talk it’s important to start with a process you can implement regularly. When you do, you will find that it not only helps you in sales but in everyday life as well.

Practice the following methodology with your peers, friends and family:

  • Listen - You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you take nothing else from this post remember: Listen first, then Listen again.
  • Share - When it’s time, Share the prospect's concerns without judgment and show empathy. 
  • Clarify - Ask questions to Clarify the true objection before moving on to problem solving.
  • Problem Solve - When you identify the true objection, Problem Solve by brainstorming alternative solutions with the prospect. Introduce real world examples that your company has implemented for other clients and business benefits achieved.
  • Ask for Action - Lastly, Ask for Action. Determine their commitment to solving their problem(s).

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these steps.

Listen

We have already established that people talk more than they listen, but they also prefer to talk about themselves and their concerns. By listening to the prospect, you are not only helping to build a more robust customer profile, you are also increasing the chances that they'll be satisfied by the conversation, helping you build trust. So, by listening more and talking less you can accomplish two goals! 

Share

Listening to someone is one thing, actually caring about their problems is another. This is called empathy and is not a trait that comes naturally to many, though it can be learned. Try and put yourself in your prospect's shoes. Ask permission to restate their objection in your own language. The simple art of asking permission lets the customer know that you respect their concerns and want to ensure their business pain points are understood. By rephrasing the sales objection in your own words, you'll be better able to internalize it and ask more questions to ensure clarity, further deepening your understanding of the potential client.

Clarify

Resist the urge to start solving their problem. Ask to clarify then ask again. Experts say that it takes at least four to five layers of questions to really uncover the pain or nature of the objection. Take your time and keep asking questions until you truly discover the reason for the objection. Finally, restate everything you heard in your own words, identifying their true objection. Follow up by asking them to confirm that you’ve understood them correctly.

Then and only then can you move on to the next step.

Problem Solve

Once you understand their true resistance, it’s time to put your problem-solving hat on. You will find that many objections are common across your client base. If you sell business continuity services, you may run into these three BDR objections, for instance. Do your work ahead of time and develop a set of success stories that communicate how you solved these problems for other customers in similar situations. With that said though, spend time working through the first three steps and don't just start solving their problem immediately. If it’s your first time hearing an objection, then brainstorm and collaborate with the prospect, continue to ask questions and introduce new ideas. From this you should be able to prescribe a solution that your managed services can solve.

Ask for Action

To obtain the client's approval and progress the managed services sale, you simply have to ask for action. Use assumptive selling techniques like, “When we go live I will work with your lead tech, Michael, to make sure your customers are happy." This is a much stronger statement than introducing uncertainty by asking, “If you buy us, who would be the tech that you could assign to onboard your customers?”

When they do answer don’t accept an immediate yes. I'm sure when you've done this before, it was tempting to get someone off the phone or to conclude that you closed the sale. But a "yes" at this stage isn't really a yes, rather it’s a "yes, let’s keep moving along." Once you have their agreement, you can move on to the next objection or the next step in the sales process.

Download the Managed IT Services Sales Imperative White Paper

As Senior Director of Partner Development at Continuum, Lane has deep experience in the MSP market and has been working in the IT and Managed Services space for the past 20 years. He successfully built and sold a nationally recognized MSP (# 9 in the MSPMentor 100, 2008 Edition). From there he went into consulting in the MSP space where he guided large VARs ($10M — $100M annual revenues) in their transitions to recurring revenue/managed services business models. He spent the past three years working as President of a sizable MSP in the Chicago area. Through his time in the industry Lane has helped hundreds of MSPs and IT Service providers build their managed services practices.

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