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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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Selling Managed Services: What Sales Roles Will You Need?

Posted December 8, 2016by Lane Smith

Selling Managed Services- What Sales Roles Will You Need?.jpg

As you close out the year and finalize annual revenue targets going forward, consider whether you have the right internal resources needed to hit these goals. And by this, I don't just mean bodies available to answer and make sales calls. Have you established a sales super team? Perhaps you already have dedicated sales personnel or plan to hire more sales reps in the future. No matter where you fall along this spectrum, to grow revenue and profitability for your managed IT services business, it is vital that you build your team along the following guidelines.  


Organizing an MSP Special Forces Sales Team

Assemble the Right Sales Reps

Out of the gate your highest performing sales people are typically not going to be your first MSP sales success stories. They’re making good money doing what they already know. Why would they change?

Leave them alone. You can’t afford the time to bring them around. Once you’ve made the commitment and the financial investments to implement your business re-engineering, you need to gain traction quickly.

Don’t wait. Sidestep existing sales people and designate an MSP “Special Forces” sales team to demonstrate the feasibility of selling managed services. You’ll use this team—even if it’s just one person to start—to create your first MSP success story.

Your initial MSP super team should constitute between 5-10 percent of your sales resources. The total commitment of resources to sales will eventually depend on the percentage of revenue you hope to realize from managed services.

Identify Team Leads

If one of your existing top performers is willing, make that person your MSP champion. If not, hire a sales champion as early as you can, so he or she can participate in designing your offering and sales process. Ideally, that person will have experience selling services—you don’t want to hire a top product rep who is fleeing another company which is gradually converting to services.

You’re looking for a person capable of recognizing the emerging needs of clients and the insights to suggest innovative solutions. Look also for someone with proven training skills. This person will build out a sales process that they can successfully repeat and later teach to your next tier of MSP sales people.

Additionally, your Special Forces team should include an excellent sales engineer with services experience, to support the sales effort. And don’t forget to compensate your engineer as you will see later in this post.

Check out the Managed Services Sales Imperative white paper to learn how to grow new client acquisition, generate upsells, cross-sells and more!

Readying Your Team to Drive Revenue

4 Key Sales Roles Needed:

Once you are ready to build out your entire MSP sales force there are four key roles that we believe to be critical to your team's success. It is important to understand that these roles are not mutually exclusive. As an example, the Account Manager role can be performed by the same person that is filling the Account Executive role. In fact, if you are just building out your sales force you may only have one person that handles all of the roles.

1. Account Executive (AE)

Role/Responsibilities:

The AE is responsible for prospecting and generating new commercial business. In organizations that offer multiple services or products the AE will typically be responsible for identifying opportunities across the entire product suite. These products may include office equipment (copiers and printers), telephony (carrier services, VOIP phone systems), computer hardware & software, cloud solutions, IT project services and IT managed services.

In organizations focused primarily on product sales it is customary for the AE to also perform the ongoing account management responsibilities. However, in a managed services delivery model the day-to-day account management can be quite time-consuming. As such we recommend that this function fall under another role.

Here are eight important traits of successful account executives which can also be generalized for all salespeople:

  1. They care about customer's interests.
  2. They're confident.
  3. They're always on.
  4. They're not pushy.
  5. They're resilient.
  6. They're extroverted.
  7. They're good listeners.
  8. They're skilled at multitasking.

Compensation:

The majority of their total compensation is commission-based.

2. Account Manager (AM) 

Role/Responsibilities:

The AM's primary responsibility is to act as an advocate for the business and will handle the ongoing account management for the clients. They will handle issues ranging from client satisfaction to contract renewals and quarterly business reviews. They will also be responsible for all new product and services sales within their client base. Additionally, AMs ensure all clients understand what products and offerings are available to them.

Compensation:

Higher base salary though commissions is still a large part of their total compensation.

3. Sales Engineer (SE)

Role/Responsibilities:

The SE is the primary technical resource for the AE team and is responsible for actively driving and managing the technology evaluation stage of the sales process, working in conjunction with the AE as the key technical advisor and solutions expert.

Compensation:

Mid-to-high base salary with commissions is a small portion of their total compensation.

4. Virtual CIO (vCIO) 

Role/Responsibilities:

The vCIO is responsible for providing an executive IT leadership role for clients guiding them in selection, implementation and ongoing support of technological solutions to address their company goals and objectives. In smaller organizations, this position will often incorporate both the SE and AM roles. This is often considered a billable position. We often find that the first vCIO hired (or promoted internally) can also serve as your MSP Champion.

Compensation:

High base salary with commissions is a small portion of their total compensation. 

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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