Many successful managed services providers grew organically.  Referalls, networking and word of mouth were marketing strategies that worked brilliantly to get a one to five person shop growing steadily.   As their revenues increased, their need to cover larger expenses and salaries increased along with it.  Sales were no longer a ‘nice to have’, it was now necessary for these business owners to make sure that the sales engine was always running.  Word of mouth will absolutely generate sparadic sales growth, but hoping someone brings you a referral isn’t a business development strategy.  To keep moving forward you’ll need a predictable, repeatable sales process.


 

On September 15, at 1 PM PDT, join Carrie Simpson as she shares ideas for creating your managed services sales playbook!

Register here:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5625375675428965136

Building Sales Process Is The Same As Building Service Process

A managed services provider with best in class margins and steady year over year growth is utilizing their assets well.  Their processes and systems support repeatable experiences for end users.  If you’re thriving, I would guess that your service desk follows a process for troubleshooting and escalation.  Tickets come in, and the process for supporting your clients begins.

Imagine this scenario:  a client calls your help desk with a level 2 support issue.  No one answers.  They leave a message and wait.  The message gets missed and the client does not receive a call back at all.   There have been similar issues for this client in the last month.  The client gets frustrated, and they decide to start looking for a new provider.  You lose the client to a competitor.

Seems like a pretty small issue to lose a client over, right? Often the small issues are where we win or lose.  A big catastrophic outage in a natural disaster?  Well, in the client’s mind, nobody could have handled that well and they’re grateful you’re there helping them.  Consistently not responding to voicemails?  That’s not catastrophic, but it’s not a great user experience, and your clients have a hundred other options.

Why didn’t that end user get a call back?

Well, in this scenario, there could be many issues – but I imagine it went something like this:

You hired a new dispatcher.

They were trained by another team member.

They forgot to share one important piece of process information with your new hire:  every 20 minutes, we check the general voicemail.

Seems like a common sense activity that you wouldn’t need to outline, until you realize that many 20-somethings don’t use their phones at all for telephone calls, and they may not even have their voicemail set up on their phones!   Your assumption created a process hole that resulted in attrition.

Once you’ve identified this process hole, you would update your documentation so that not only will this new person know what they should be doing, every new hire after this will also know what they need to do.

Sales process serves the same purpose.  You risk losing clients when your support process has holes in it, and you risk not finding new clients when your sales process has holes in it.

You Can’t Scale Exceptions

Process is essential for sales growth.  You can’t grow a cohesive sales team and a predictable sales pipeline for long without it.  Think of your prospects as clients you just don’t have yet.  You want them to experience your corporate culture from their very first interaction with your team.  You want them to experience it regardless of your own internal issues – staff turnover shouldn’t disrupt your sales cycles. If everyone always does everything the way it’s been outlined, your client and prospect experiences should be very similar – and that’s how you scale.

Absolutely Sweat the Small Stuff

Death by a thousand papercuts is the most common way to lose business – and since your prospects are clients you haven’t signed yet, your attention to detail starts there.  Small things (skipping follow up activities, pushing off scheduled tasks and trying to push not-yet-viable prospects in to the next part of the sales pipeline) often add up and cost you the deal.

How Do You Fix It?

Are you experiencing a slowdown in deal flow, inconsistent metrics, a lower closing ratio and messy data?  These are all problems that can be fixed with process.   Build it, test it, improve it, train it, and then live it.

Process documentation is usually referred to as a “Sales Playbook”.  Your playbook can be as simple as a word document checklist for each stage of the sales process, or as complex as you need it to be.   Here at Managed Sales Pros, we have a playbook that includes small things like navigating the phone system to find contacts.  Doesn’t everyone press “zero” when they reach a voicemail?  Well, it turns out that no, that’s not what most people do.  Adding simple steps to our playbook increased our contact ratios significantly.

If You Didn’t Document It, You Didn’t Do It

Before we developed our playbook, our call team was often skipping steps that were essential to my desired business outcome.

For example, to determine the operational maturity of a potential MSP client, we  look at their ratio of managed endpoints to number of employees to annual revenue.  We call this number “the trifecta”, and our team is bonused on their ability to collect that information.

Without that data, we don’t know if this MSP will be a good long term fit for us.

Our executive team still manages the sales process here.  If our lead generators neglect to collect “the trifecta” before scheduling a sales appointment for Tracie, she could very well spend hours engaged with a prospect that isn’t in our sweet spot, only to have to tell them we can’t support them effectively.

Turning down business when you’re all several hours into the process creates a bad user experience for the prospect. If the lead generator follows our process correctly, they will know that they can’t schedule Tracie’s time without those magic numbers being above a certain ratio.   This qualification step is mandatory, and not only does our process outline it, our bonus structure rewards those who do the work, not just those who get the wins.  I don’t want my team making up numbers, exaggerating or slamming deals into the pipeline.  I want them methodically moving deals forward at the pace that makes sense for the prospect, not my employee.  If the agent asks the right questions in the right order, we can gracefully suggest options that make sense for the prospect before we tie up executive time just to politely say “Thanks, but no thanks” at the end of the process.

Your Playbook Tells Your Team How and When to Proceed

Your MSP Sales Playbook should leave little doubt in someone’s mind about what happens next at each stage in your sales process, and should outline step by step how they get to each new stage.  We call this “Three Funnel Forecasting”, and our playbook outlines all steps in each stage, broken down to the smallest detail.  With this guide book in front of them, our sales team rarely has to come to ask for help.  Each of our clients has one as well.  We’d love to help you create yours!

Join us on September 15 at 1 PM PDT to ask any questions you have about sales playbook development, you can register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5625375675428965136

If you’d like to watch the webinar on-demand, it will be availabe on our Youtube channel the day after the event.

If you’d rather just get started on your own process documentation,  email Carrie at hello@managedsalespros.com or call us at 1-844-466-2624 to talk about creating your own custom managed services sales playbook!

In the meantime, here’s your managed services sales playbook cheat sheet!  Happy Selling!

sales playbook infographic