We had the best time at our recent webinar, How to Say IT Right So Clients Listen, where we spoke to 4 industry experts on ditching the tech-speak and communicating in a way that helps our customers to really understand our value as IT Service Providers.
We were joined by IT Business Growth Expert Richard Tubb, Marketing Consultant and Speaker Roger Edwards, CEO of Abussi, Craig Sharp, and our own Yasmin Simmons, Technical CSM. If you missed the live event, or you’re looking to revisit the best bits, you’re in the right place for the recap!
Starting Your Sales Pitch With a BANG!
Roger spoke to us about how MSPs usually come into a sales pitch with some big statistics or a powerful customer story, or focusing in on a big problem and how they can solve it. While this is the traditional method of starting a sales pitch with a bang, there are other ways to make an impact.
“We tend to make a couple of mistakes when we go into a sales pitch. The first is that we make it about the features of the product or service, sometimes without even knowing what problem we want to solve. The second is that we go in with a torrent of complicated language, as opposed to the language of our clients. It’s that combination of a focus on features plus complicated language that instead of engaging clients, puts them off.”
Instead, a different approach is to start your sales pitch with some questions and some listening. Craig continued by explaining that everyone is expecting this traditional BANG. The client expects it because that’s what people have done before, and the MSP expects that they have to follow this pattern. But actually, if you go in and you ask some questions and then listen, the first engagement is less of a hard sell, and more about asking, “Why am I here?” You then hear the customer explain the problem that has led to you being there, and this helps you to differentiate themselves from other service providers. You’re not selling, you’re listening, and that is exactly what makes you stand out.
Of course, this is all about asking the right questions. Richard gave us four clear questions that we can use to get the clients talking. He reiterated that clients aren’t listening when we talk about features and benefits. That’s why, although Richard loves tech speak, he realized early on that clients don’t! Instead, his questions help him encourage the prospects to speak to him.
- What do you think the problem is? This sounds obvious but it stops us from making assumptions about what the problems are from our own perspective.
- How is this affecting you? Perhaps it’s costing the client time or money, or maybe it’s bothering them personally. Knowing this information stops you trying to prove your value, it lets the client tell you what they need you to provide.
- What have you already tried to do to fix this? This encourages you to listen to their story so far, and prevents you jumping in to be the hero with answers that they’ve already tried.
- How do you see us helping you? Let the client explain why they want to work with you. Move away from hard sell and persuasion, and keep your ears open and your mouth zipped.
Listening to the answers is key. Hear what the client is saying and try to shut off your mind from speeding ahead with solutions or to get to the next question. You can use this time to hear the language that the client uses, so that you can take that in and use it when you speak back to them.
We love how Craig explained that this approach also ensures you think about the process as a two-way street. Not every piece of business that presents itself is going to be a good opportunity. This is the time when you can check if the client has the right perspective, that they’re a good fit for your service model, and that you’re on the same wavelength.
Close the Deal the Right Way
If you’ve had a good sales conversation, closing the deal should be as simple as saying “Do you have any more questions, or are you ready to move forward?” Keep it simple, and keep the language that you use in these conversations straightforward so that the client can understand.
Don’t assume that you need a process in place for sales that’s very rigid. You don’t need to stick to a single meeting and then a sealed deal as a result of that meeting. In many cases that’s not going to be possible. Craig speaks to clients on average three times, and never assumes that at the end of 45 minutes he’s going to have a new client. Incremental movement forward has been much more successful for him. On the first meeting they may initially have a pricing conversation, and he doesn’t expect anything more. The second meeting might be a tech check, which can be due diligence on your side as an MSP looking over the network, and then the next level will be another step forward discussing the client’s needs, and that then gets you closer towards sealing the deal. This process can take a couple of weeks, and allows the prospect to make small steps forward so that the signing on the dotted line is a relatively easy final step.
Richard gave a great idea for a final question, “Is there anything that would stand in the way of us proceeding?” It may sound obvious, but this gets down to the heart of any issues, and preempts ‘buyer’s remorse’ in advance, by making sure you’ve covered everything ahead of time. Another blocker could be that you’re not talking to the right person, so it’s always worthwhile saying “Is there anyone else who has to be involved in this decision?”
Onboarding Onwards – Time to Be the Expert
We’ve covered that sales conversations should be all about listening, but this is where as MSPs, we should switch and start doing more of the talking. Here’s where you provide a timeline of what’s going to happen next, and transition smoothly into a strong relationship.
We love the advice of not looking at the sales and onboarding processes as two separate entities. We’ve all been in situations where sales teams hand you over to IT teams and you’re expected to move forward without a good handover or clear process. Sales should be done with technical awareness, and your technical team should understand the pain points that have led to this sale. This streamlines the process moving forward and shows the client you’re running an efficient business that they can trust.
Keeping that trust is a matter of engaging on a regular basis, in-person if possible. Craig has even been known to bring cakes and cookies! Clients know that as part of being engaged with you, they can have certain expectations for what you will provide. They won’t buy that you’re amazing because you’re looking after their IT systems, that’s their minimum expectation. He therefore likes to use automation to do a lot of these expected tasks, so that his time is freed up to add higher value elsewhere.
That’s it for your highlights! This one was jam-packed with incredible advice, and we’ve only covered the icing on one of Craig’s delicious cakes! If you want to hear the full conversation, including how to overcome sales objections, avoiding a race to the bottom in terms of pricing, and practical examples of upselling your services for success, you can check out the whole webinar here.