Is your MSP sales team finding it harder to close leads? Some veteran salespeople (think someone who has been in the role since at least the late 90s) are discovering their role in the buyer’s decision-making process has changed and they’re not sure why. They’ve also noticed they’re getting fewer calls from prospective buyers and worry they’ll have less opportunities to close a sale.
But, do fewer calls really mean fewer sales opps? Not necessarily — especially if your MSP sales process takes a few things into account.
The Old Way to Sell
Maybe those sales guys are just a bit behind the sales-and-marketing times and haven’t discovered there’s a new way to approach the MSP sales process.
Before the internet became a hub for information sharing, the salespeople were in control. They had all the information about their products or services. And the only way a potential customer could get that info was through the sales guy.
The traditional sales process consisted of identifying who might be a good fit for what was being sold, cold calls to those people, building personal relationships, and persuasive (manipulative?) techniques that involved a lot of talking.
The Relationship Between Sales and Marketing
In those traditional days, perhaps the salesman had some sales materials created by the marketing department that laid out the features and specs of the product or service to be sold, but that was the extent of the interaction between the two groups.
There were clear delineations of duties. The marketing department handled things like trade show planning, ad buying, and brochure printing, and then passed leads directly to sales. It was the job of the sales team to educate the prospective customer and — hopefully — close the sale.
And in the vast majority of organizations, there was the mantra: “A.B.C. Always. Be. Closing.” It didn’t matter if the prospect didn’t want to be sold; it didn’t matter if you were irritating. The whole point was just to close the sale.
Enter the Disruptive Internet and the New Normal
The internet changed the old sales paradigm. It gives “consumers the keys to information [and] it broke the traditional sales tactics,” says HubSpot Fellow Sam Mallikarjunan.
People don’t want to be sold to. Today, only 19% of buyer’s use a salesperson’s input to make a buying decision, according to research conducted by HubSpot. That’s fewer than two in five.
So, what do they want? They want information. So, most of them turn to the internet and search. And that’s the beginning of the buyer’s journey — “the active research process a customer goes through leading up to purchase” that involves three steps:
- Awareness — where prospects know something’s missing or they have symptoms of a problem: “why is my network so slow” or “how can I get my spreadsheets more integrated with my customer profiles”
- Consideration — where prospects figure out the problem and learn about different ways to fix it
- Decision — when they’ve decided on a solution and check out a few companies that provide that service
So, what does that mean for the MSP sales process?
Your MSP Sales Process Needs to Accommodate How Buyers Buy
Take a look at your current sales process. Document each step and write it all down — really. Don’t rely on your memory. Include only the steps you always take.
Now, look at whether that MSP sales process considers the journey a prospect goes through from first becoming aware of a problem, to finding solutions to it, to buying the best solution. If you’re not considering that buyer’s journey, you’re missing out on reaching a whole swath of potential customers.
Start with Your Ideal Customers
Create a profile of your ideal customer. Perhaps it’s the chief technology officer at a mid-size company. Get a feel for some of the typical qualities they might all share. Are they around the same age? Do they have a family? What challenges do they face at work? What motivates them?
Talk to people. Do some research. When you have a decent sense of what a stereotypical CTO is, create a buyer’s persona — a profile of the people who fit into the role you’ve identified. Include demographics, motivators, pain points — everything you can.
But what if a sys admin and a CEO could also be ideal customers? Create personas for them, too.
Create Content for Those Customers — in a Variety of Ways
Once you’ve identified your ideal customers and created the buyer personas, working with the marketing folks is the next step in your MSP sales process. Point out the persona’s motivations, pain points, etc., and explain how your service or product speaks to those.
They’ll then create great content to help brings the prospects through the sales funnel so you get qualified leads. After all, content will be your most effective MSP marketing tool.
Here’s what you’ll likely need:
- Blog and web content that Tony the CTO, for example, could find when he’s trying to figure out what’s going wrong as well as content that explains solutions
- An email nurturing campaign that targets your personas, and moves them closer to decision making
- Social marketing campaigns to generate interest
- Pay-per-click advertising & retargeting campaign
- And much more…
This means that much of the buyer nurturing that salespeople used to do can now be automated by the marketing department and this automation means an exponential amount of leads for the same amount of effort. For example, a blog post or white paper needs to be written only once, but can help you acquire leads for months or years to come. In fact, conversions from content marketing pieces often increase as the piece ages (barring changes in the technology) because it has grown in popularity on search engines.
Analyze Your Data
An MHI Sales Best Practices Study shows that 78% of world-class sales performers say, “Our sales management team is highly confident in the data available from our CRM system.”
This means you’ve got to pay attention to metrics and will need to have the right technology in place in order to collect data from web visitors as well as current customers and others involved in the MSP sales process. This means data from CRM systems, website analytics, social media metrics, PPC, and additional channels you may have in play.
And then, you’ll need to work to understand it. Analyze your content marketing metrics and ask questions, including; What blog post received the most traffic? What does that tell you about what your ideal customers might be looking for and need? Which ones didn’t generate much? Those are likely topics you can spend less time on.
When You Connect with the Prospect
Once you’ve created this much of the MSP sales process, you’ll have a good sense of where a prospect is in his journey before you connect with him. This means you’ll be able to speak directly to what he needs — at that particular moment you connect.
Even better news? Conversion rates are nearly six times higher for this sales process than for the traditional one (2.9% vs 0.5%), according to the Aberdeen Group, and B2B companies that blog generate significantly more leads than those who don’t simply because there’s a way to interact — to sign up for a newsletter, gain access to a piece of gated content, etc. Clearly, that has significant implications for selling.
Teamwork Makes It Work
Sales and marketing need to work together. Sales is the place with the most knowledge of ideal customers; marketing can craft campaigns geared to them. Each needs to collect data to see what works and what doesn’t in order to tweak the MSP sales process to ensure it’s effective. Without that teamwork, marketing departments could create content that doesn’t address the right issues and salespeople may be left wondering why leads aren’t knocking at their door.
The relationship between sales and marketing used to look somewhat like a relay race, with marketing passing the baton at the appropriate point. Now the MSP sales process looks more like a puzzle with pieces being contributed by both the marketing and sales departments, so you need to figure out how those pieces fit together in order to see the whole picture.
Document Your New MSP Sales Process
Now, document your new process. Don’t just talk about in a sales meeting. Actually create a well-documented outline that you can tweak over time as your product or trends in the market change. Having this documented process in place will save your sales team time and effort and will make training of new sales staff easier, with a well-thought out process to follow along the way. And, if you need help, let us at Total Product Marketing know. We’ve been doing this for years and can help your sales and marketing efforts. Contact us today and give us a call at 855-646-8662.