How MSPs Can Build a Formidable and Scalable Sales Engine
Conducted By Michael Cummings of The Taylor Business Group (Leader of TBG’s Sales Transformation Practice and Executive Recruiter of Sales Talent and Services Leaders)
Most MSPs struggle with building a scalable sales model. It is not uncommon for MSPs to grow their business rapidly through their operational and administrative excellence to a point. Then, they tend to hit the sales “wall,” where they can’t grow using their current sales model (often with the owner acting as the prime sales person). This sales block can stagnate your growth for years.
At this point, most owners look to hire salespeople to build the business. Unfortunately, this is often a disaster for both the owner and the sales professionals. It can lead to the hiring and onboarding of a succession of sales people who don’t perform and leave within months. In some cases, this pattern can be repeated for years on end, leading to wasted time and lost market opportunity.
In our direct coaching work and sales transformation peer groups, we have partnered with many of our clients to overcome this sales chasm. The owners who successfully built their sales engine shared a common roadmap and set of best practices that other MSP owners can emulate.
Here are the 6 essential steps for sales transformation that can serve as your roadmap:
- The owner must build the sales infrastructure: Here is the required infrastructure:
- The owner needs new skills: Leading, managing and motivating a sales force is far different than overseeing the services department or your administrative staff. The owner needs new skills to engage in sales management activities that impact sales performance – weekly sales objectives, daily huddles, pre-call planning, post-call debriefs, weekly sales meetings, activity tracking, and one-on-one coaching sessions
- The owner must invest: The biggest investment an owner must make is his own time. Our clients commit to investing a minimum of 50% of their time specifically on sales transformation. Secondly, they have to invest substantial money in five areas: 1) Sales process definition and automation 2) Hiring the right level of talent (recruiters and compensation) 3) On boarding 4) Training; Development and Tools 5) Training and coaching for themselves. We will cover each of these aspects in the points that follow.
- The owner has to be “all in” and lead the charge: The owner must drive the changes within the company that we will discuss below. But, even more importantly, they must change their own way of doing things. They will have to be personally dedicated to build a new sales model – complete with implementing new processes, developing a new team, and mastering new ways to lead/manage. This will have to be a top personal priority for the owner or the change won’t happen.
- Sales Playbook: This documents the sales process your sales organizations will follow systematically – including skills, tactics and stage criteria (i.e., how do you know you are progressing in the sales process)
- Appointment Setting Tools and Training: These tools and training ensure that your sales staff can set up call blocks to support the volume of activity and disciplined follow up required to be successful
- Onboarding: Initial onboarding and training will establish the proven roadmap for success for your sales force – especially an in-depth understanding of your offering catalogue abd quoting processes. In addition, this process will train new sales staff on their weekly calendar of activities, and will include time for the owner to shadow the sales staff on client and prospect calls.
- CRM/Sales Process Automation and Pipeline Reporting: Sales productivity increases when the entire sale force is following a standard sales process that feeds into the management systems that you will use to direct effort and produce the desired results.
- Sales Management Metrics: You need both activity metrics and results metrics. Fortunately, only two activity metrics matter: 1) number of new prospective clients meetings per week and 2) how qualified these opportunities are in terms of client’s “pain” points, the appeal of your business case, and their readiness to change.
- The owner has to hire the right talent: You need to set standards for your ideal candidate in terms of functional skills, experience/track record and behavioral attributes. Our advice is to target sales executives with a clear track record in building their own book of business (in a B-to-B environment with SMB clients). In you are interested in the specific attributes that we look for when recruiting sales people for our clients, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The owner has to become a transformational sales coach: Whether it is in a small group setting or one on one, it is the quality of coaching that makes the difference in your sales results. Transformational coaching hits on all of three of the following aspects with your team:
- Sales skills/call execution
As you can see, transforming your sales model is fully dependent on the owner – and it is a big job. But, taking shortcuts or looking for an easier approach just doesn’t work. In our sales transformation programs, TBG clients devote themselves to an 18 month effort to transform their ability to lead, manage, and scale a new sales model. But, once the transformation is achieved, the results are enduring.
For more on sales models, check our upcoming webinar Transforming Your Sales Model.