building a sales engine

sales egnine for MSPBuilding A Sales Engine That Works For You

I just got back from spending a month in Maui. I am able to travel constantly because I spent intentional time building a sales engine that runs exactly the way I need it to.  For one of the four weeks I was there, I went offline completely.   I added the same amount of MRR to the business while away as I would have if I were at home.

carrie simpson managed sales pros ian richardson building a sales engine from maui

This isn’t rare for me.  I travel about 200+ days per year.

I intentionally started a business that allows me to work from anywhere in the world, and I built my sales engine based on my own financial requirements and personal goals.  My sales engine not only hits my sales goals, it runs with or without me.

You can do this, too.  There is no reason you need to be tied to a desk while you grow your business.  If your business isn’t working for you, it might be time to have a conversation with Ian Richardson about strategic planning.  Strategic planning helped me double the size of my business in less than two years, and it helped me increase my margins significantly.

richardson & richardson

Ian exited successfully from his MSP in December 2021, and I exited from my second business, Everywhere Managed, in 2020.  Our new consulting practice is called Richardson & Richardson, and our focus is on solving business problems.  My area of expertise is sales and marketing process.  Both of us welcome conversations around sales growth and business strategy.


Every MSP Owner Is Unique

I met an MSP business owner, completely by chance, in Jamaica last year.  He had been a three-person MSP prior to the pandemic, and now he’s a single-man shop.  He has long term clients who just understand he needs down time and they accept that he will be away for two weeks.  He has long term relationships with other MSPs in his city who take calls for him when he’s out of town.  His website was built when he started his business 20 years ago, and he’s never changed it.

I asked him what his exit strategy was.  He said he’d invested for 20 years, purchased real estate, and when he was ready to stop doing I.T. work, he’d just close the doors.  He had already hit his retirement number, and he was under 50 years old.  He had no interest in the stress of being acquired, and he does no sales prospecting at all.   He has never spent a single dime on sales and marketing, nor added any non-technical staff.

Every MSP Sales Engine Should Be Unique

Not all business owners need or want to “10x” their businesses or build a “7 figure MSP”.   Everyone wants something different from their business journey.  Sometimes we don’t know what that is until we’ve been in our businesses for a while, and some of us start businesses with intentional goals that aren’t financial.

The journey is unique, and every MSP sales engine should be unique.

You can’t do what the person next to you is doing if you’re not trying to achieve what he’s achieving.

Following a generic sales plan or having no plan  leads to more frustration and unwanted debt more often than it leads to sales success.

Are your sales goals are arbitrary and unrealistic?  Did you pick a number out of the air based on something you heard at an event? Did you choose ambitious and random sales targets after spending a weekend at a seminar with Gary Vee and Tony Robbins?  Are you trying to apply software sales best practices to your services business?

Aggressive sales goals with no planning around execution can lead you to overspend on sales outsourcing, marketing agencies and headcount, sacrificing your own salary and the financial stability of  your business.  Remember, your marketing agency gets paid no matter what, and they may not take the time to walk you through the worst case scenario.

Worse, a sales strategy that overwhelms your service desk means you’re going to work twice as hard for half as much — all of this is avoidable when you take the time to gain perspective before you make your plan.  There are no business development emergencies.  The time to buy any product or service to help you hit your sales goals for 2022 was in 2021, so anything you do at this point is building your success for 2023.   There are no business development emergencies, and no discount is worth financial doubt and instability.

How Do You Start Building A Sales Engine For Your MSP?

Start building a sales engine by thinking about what you – the business owner – wants. When I started my business, I had an arbitrary number in mind – I wanted to build a ten million dollar business. I don’t know why.  It sounded good. It seemed like a good number to hit.

After my first exit (which was my second business), I took all the things I’d learned and applied them to my first business (this one).  I built it backwards this time – I started from where I wanted to end up, then figured out what kind of sales engine I needed to build to get there.

The first step to building a sales engine is knowing when you’re going to turn it off.

If you’re 22 and starting a business, you may have a 40-year timeline to hit your goals.  If you’re 50, you might only want to work for five more years.  Build your business so it works for you, and aligns with your personal and financial goals.  Start with a conversation with your accountant and financial advisor.  Determine “your number”, then build a sales engine that contributes appropriately.

Building a Sales Engine Requires Understanding How Sales Impacts Service Delivery

In order for me to retire on my timeline and meet my financial goals, I know that I need only to generate enough new business to maintain my current annual revenue.  I need a sales engine that runs fast enough to replace clients that leave, not a sales engine that is built to scale 10x. I know how much ARR I can add annually if I’m in beast mode – but adding too much ARR too fast overwhelms my call center.

If I build my sales engine to run too fast, I can’t onboard properly.  If I build it to run too slow, my staffing costs eliminate my margins.  If my goals change next year, my sales engine will need to change along with them.

I run my business using the Profit First methodology – a great book to read while you’re planning your sales growth.  I had the opportunity to see the author keynote at Auvik’s conference in January 2020, and adopted the methodology immediately.

I start with the margins I want and that’s how I determine how I price my services.   With pricing nailed down, I can carry on planning my sales engine.

What Data Do I Need To Build My Sales Engine?

Here are the things I considered before building my sales engine for 2022 and beyond.

  1. How often do my clients turnover?
  2. What are my average margins per client?
  3. What is my closing ratio from meetings to sales?
  4. How many qualified sales meetings do I need to take every month to make sure I can replace any client that turns over within 30 days?
  5. What is my conversion rate of qualified leads to meetings?
  6. How many qualified leads do I need to get every year to get the number of meetings I need?
  7. How many days does it take me to close a deal from meeting to onboard?

Knowing the answers to these questions makes it easy for me to build a sales engine that works for my business – and my business isn’t that much different from an MSP – I charge a flate monthly rate for a service, my service delivery relies on people coming to work every day, and we need technology that works.

I also needed a good investment strategy, and since I’m not qualified to give you investment advice, you should go talk to some people you trust.  My EO peer group was essential in helping me understand financial strategies for growing wealth.  Smart people taught me how to interview a financial advisor.

The KPIs of Building A Sales Engine

Once you’ve decided your goals for your MSP/MSSP, and you’ve reviewed your historical sales data, you’re going to begin building a sales engine that hits the right KPIs daily, weekly, monthly and annually.   I need to meet with four companies a month to keep my business stable.

I know this, because I know all of my other KPIs.  I built my sales engine to produce four qualified sales meetings per month.

Meeting with more means turning down clients, meeting with less means I might miss my target.  Four is the right number.  I know what activities I need to do every day to make sure that happens.  Do you know what actions you need to take every day in order for you to hit your goals this year?

building a sales engine from maui carrie ian

Get Started Building A Sales Engine That Works For Your MSP!

Whether you want to add ten clients a year or a hundred clients a year, you’ll need a plan, a playbook and accountability along the way.   If you’d like some assistance building the sales engine that will get you there, schedule a discovery call with me.  Our consulting services teach you how to plan for MSP sales growth that is strategic, predictable and profitable.

Book a 15 minute call with me here:

Make Your Sales Engine Work Better With Tips from Tracie Orisko: Live Event

Looking for some advice on how to make that sales engine work better for you?  Join me as I host Tracie Orisko from Huntress on March 7 at 11 ET on LinkedIN Live to share objection handling techniques for MSPs/MSSPs!  It’s on LinkedIN, so no need to fill out a form, just click and watch!

carrie simpson tracie orisko