Your target market consists of companies of a size where every dollar counts, where every dollar spent is money out of their own pockets personally and where you are asking them to make a significant investment in something that is not perceived as urgent.

Impossible?  Not necessarily.

First, understand that the managed services sell is not a one-call win. It requires a little education.  Let’s say you have a car.  It’s the first car you’ve ever owned.  You bought it new, and it has worked pretty well for you.  You had a couple of kids, and now it’s getting a little too cozy in that car.  Plus your wife wants a dog, and where the hell are you going to put the dog?  In the back of your mind, you’re starting to think “I’m going to need a new car one of these days!”

Then you get busy at work, and with life, and you just don’t think about the car at all, because after all, it’s getting you from point A to point B, and that’s what you NEED it to do.  So, getting from point A to point B is the primary function of your vehicle.

Your vehicle has other functions, however.  It needs to safely fit your two kids and that new dog in, in a way that doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out at daycare pickup.  It needs to store your new cross country skis that you got for Christmas and said you would use, but really you aren’t going to use them so they’ll live in the trunk.  Slowly, day after day, daycare pickup after grocery run, your vehicle, while “working perfectly” starts to take up more space in the front of your brain.

So now, let’s say that one day I call you up and say “I sell cars!  Do you need a new car?”

Even though you have been thinking about that exact thing, your first thought will be “No!  Everything is fine, my car works fine.”  Think about that.  You are programmed to that default setting.  We all are.  It’s pretty rare to make a sales call and have someone say “As a matter of fact, yes, I need one of those right now, today!”

Instead of asking you that first closed ended question, what if I started the conversation like this:

“I work with people whose vehicle needs might be changing.  Tell me what’s changed in your life this year!”

If my mojo is working, and you’re not busy, you might tell me about your new baby and those ridiculous skis and the dog.

So now, understanding a little more about you, and what you need, I can go a little deeper.

“Wow, okay.  TWO kids and a DOG and skis?  I know when we had our second kid, those car seat straps made me nuts and I really appreciated the extra row of space the minivan gave me.  What do you like about the car you’re driving right now?”

And you tell me.

Then I ask another open ended, non-threatening question.

“What are you looking for in your next car, besides the obvious more space (haha)?”

Then you tell me.

And now we can really get down to the nuts and bolts of what you’re going to buy, when you’ll buy it and what you’ll spend and how you shop for things.  And a few calls later, you’ll have a brand new car.

This translates really well into a managed services pitch.  The car is the business. Your prospect started a business.  They have nothing to compare it to, it’s the only business they have ever owned. They bought computers for it. They likely went in to debt to do it.  They bought brand new stuff that’s aging and while they still work, they are starting to show their age.  It’s likely that they have them tuned up every once in a while.  Maybe by a friend or someone who was recommended by someone they knew and trusted.  They still work pretty much the way they were intended to, and unless they are really thinking about what’s wrong with them, odds are they aren’t feeling any sense of urgency to change anything.

So when you make your first call, if you ask them if they need computer support, their likely answer is going to be “no”.  However, if you position yourself as a trusted technology consultant, and ask them some questions about what might be changed in their business this year, you will keep the conversation going long enough to find out about the dog and the skis.  Or in this case, the twenty desktops and the aging server and the fact that they are going to move next year.

The way you position yourself at the beginning of the conversation will make or break your opportunity to get in front of this prospect.  If you’re selling technology, you aren’t going to get in there – they don’t NEED technology.  If you keep them on the phone long enough to find out what they DO need, you can sell them that.

Some openers to try:

“We help small businesses choose technology that will support change. What do you think is the biggest challenge your industry will face this year?”

HINT:  Make sure you know the top ten answers to this question, and an idea that gets you the appointment.

“We help business owners evaluate their current technology so that they can accurately estimate their expenses for the next five years.  What do you know for certain you will need to change to remain competitive?”

HINT: Have a list of things handy that they may not have considered.

“We specialize in creating secure networks that protect our clients from financial breaches and data loss.  What would happen if you lost five years of invoicing?”

HINT:  You can always tell a story about a client that had something similar happen to them.

Happy Selling,