Building Your MSP Sales Dream Team

Robin Robins MSP Marketing

If you’re running an MSP, one of the things that you’re going to want to do at some point is to start building your sales team. Salespeople help you grow your MSP and they also help free up your time because as you grow the business and you get more customers, your attention has to be focused on building a team that actually can execute. Not doing all the work yourself.

If you’re trying to build your sales team, the first question is what are the roles you need to hire for and the more important question is who do you hire first? Where do you start? I’m going to give you the five critical sales functions of a good sales department for an MSP and I’m going to tell you who to hire first when you’re trying to build that team.

You need both a marketing function and a sales function because marketing is the beginning of the sales process. Most companies treat them like two entirely separate departments that don’t even like each other. They blame each other. You have to have your sales and your marketing function working together because marketing sets up and leads to the sales process.

Both have to be functioning because if you’re doing a bunch of marketing and you don’t end up having a good sales function, all the leads, and all the opportunities that marketing produces are basically going to go to waste. Then you’re going to blame the marketing. You’re going to say, “Hey, that marketing didn’t work,” when it actually did. It’s just you don’t have salespeople that are picking up the phone when the opportunity comes in. They’re not doing the necessary work to follow up on the opportunities, the referrals, and the callbacks.

You have to be committed to both. When we talk about sales in most MSPs, as you might imagine, the vast majority of the sales are done by the owner themselves. And it’s really interesting because when you look at larger MSPs, the ones that are growing, the ones that are 10 million and above, they all have salespeople on their team. If you look at the smaller MSPs, even 5 million and below, again, the owner is typically doing all the sales themselves. Because of that, they’re doing a really crappy job, not because they’re terrible at sales, although some of them are, but because they’re busy.

If you’re the CEO of a company, it is really difficult to make sure you do all the callbacks, all the emails, and all the prospecting that you should. You should be leading the sales team. Yes, you’re involved in sales, but you still need some worker bees. You need people doing the work of sales.

There are five functions that you’re going to need to hire and build in your organization as you grow.

1. Sales support

Sales support would be your marketing team who is putting together sales enablement materials like your shock-and-awe box, setting up your CRM, getting good lists, cleaning the lists, and sending out the marketing pieces so that the sales team can follow up. Your marketing team is supporting the sales department and getting them the things that they need.

You also need somebody who is setting up campaigns in your marketing automation platform and setting up dashboard-type reports of how many prospects, callbacks, and opportunities are being generated.

You need marketing, you need CRM automation enablement, and you also need a sales engineer. That would be somebody who’s technical. So when the sales rep is going in and actually preparing, you know, whether it’s an assessment or an audit, they are supporting that sales role. That could be a couple of different people. Your marketing person may be able to do it all in the beginning when they’re small. Today I’ve got actually two people on the team that understand sales, marketing, and automation. They work on that platform. I have a person dedicated to our list, so importing cleaning lists, they run a team of list cleaners. I’ve got seven people in the marketing department plus the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). But, I’m a bigger company. Don’t freak out. You build the team one brick at a time.

2. An appointment setter or sales development rep (SDR)

Sometimes they’re called an appointment setter, telemarketer, or business development rep. But essentially these are entry-level salespeople who are doing the sort of grunt work of beating the bushes and trying to get prospects to a point where they want to book an appointment to talk to one of your more senior sales reps.

They would be doing things like following up on direct mail pieces you’re sending out, following up on inbound leads, and following up on referrals or trade show leads that you get. You may decide to do a webinar and you get a bunch of people on there and you want to follow up with them to book an appointment, that’s what your SDR does.

You want that SDR because they’re bubbling up the opportunities, they’re doing the callbacks, and they’re following up with people. If you, the owner, go out to a networking event and you come back with twelve business cards you can hand it off to that SDR and say, “Call these people, book appointments, follow up, send them a shock-and-awe, and send them our marketing material.”

Where you might get involved is actually in the meeting itself. The SDR can take a lot of work off your plate and, more importantly, make sure it’s being done because all these opportunities aren’t just going to fall into your lap. Somebody has to own them, work them, book them, confirm the appointments, move the appointments, and send the materials in advance. All the things that you need that you as the owner are going to be too busy to do. The SDR is a really crucial role.

3. Account manager

Another key role is going to be your account manager. This is a sales rep that is dedicated to meeting with existing customers, doing quarterly business reviews (QBRs), and they’re also handling requests from customers who say, “Hey, I just hired three employees and I need three new computers, can you get over here?” Roughly, the rule of thumb is by the time you have about 25 good, managed accounts, you need to be looking into having an account manager because if you’re doing the QBRs properly and you’re doing them quarterly as you should, that’s 100 appointments a year. And if you’re the owner, I guarantee you you’re not going to be doing them.

4. Sales account executive

The other role that you’re going to need once is the outside sales account executive. They’re the hunter. They’re the people that are going out and kissing babies, shaking hands, developing relationships, and meeting with people. They’re dragging in the business. Now, again, that outside sales hunter is going to be supported by the SDR. It’s going to be supported by your marketing department, but they’re also going to be very strategic. They should know how to network and how to develop relationships which are things that marketing can’t necessarily do. An outside sales executive can go to a networking event, have conversations, develop partnerships, follow up with those people, and open up opportunities.

They should be able to negotiate contracts. They should be able to really know how to qualify an opportunity. They should know how to stay in touch with these prospects. Again, they’re working with your SDR and your marketing department, and then when they close a piece of business, they should be handing it over to an account manager and going out and hunting again.

Another mistake a lot of MSPs make is they blend these roles. So they put somebody as an account manager and an outside sales hunter and they are two entirely different skill sets. The hunter loves to go out and talk to new people. They love to negotiate things. They love the hunt and they’re not usually not great with long-term relationships because they’re closers. They’re there to close the deal, throw it over their shoulder, and go hunt a new one. If you blend the role, one of the roles is going to suffer because they’re either going to be a hunter and they’re going to just, you know, hunt the crap out of new business and not develop the relationship.

5. Sales management

These people do not carry a quota per se, but they are there to build the sales team in quality and quantity. Meaning, they are hiring and onboarding reps, they’re managing those reps, and they’re assisting those reps. Their job is to make sure that the sales department functions really well.

Where do you start?

Well, for the most part, it really depends on what’s lacking most in your business. For a lot of MSPs, what’s lacking is there’s no marketing function whatsoever. There’s no CRM in place, there’s no list, there’s no sales support, there are no shock-and-awe materials, there’s no website, and there’s no SEO.

In a lot of cases, you’re going to be starting with a marketing admin who can help get those things in place or a marketing manager or marketing coordinator that’s going to start building your marketing function.

The second role you need to hire is your SDR. They’re the person that’s cleaning lists and booking appointments. By the way, an SDR doesn’t just have to book appointments for new prospects, they can go back to existing customers and book them for QBRs and cross-selling. They help you do so much in your business and if they’re good you can build them up to being an account manager or an account executive once they learn the systems and the processes.

Then you need to hire an account manager because you need someone managing your relationships. Let’s say you’re an MSP that has somewhere around 50 clients. I can tell you right now, if you have 50 managed clients, you are not doing a good job at meeting with them if you don’t have an account manager. Maybe you’ve got a service manager, but a service manager is usually not a salesperson. That’s a different role. You want an actual salesperson who knows how to do the QBRs, and who knows how to look for opportunities.

Most of you want to hire the Swiss Army knife that could do all five functions all in one and under one salary, but I’m telling you, that’s a foolish thing. You’re going to end up really frustrated and maybe even lose a good person because you’re putting too much on them. It’s just not going to work.

Need more help?

You might be sitting there going, okay, great, well what do you pay them? How do you compensate them? What’s their quota? What does their scorecard look like? How do you manage them? What are they capable of? Same with all of these roles. And if you don’t know that information…

Then I want to encourage you to join me at a two-day workshop that we are hosting called the MSP Sales Roadshow. We are doing this for our existing clients, but we’re allowing other MSPs outside to join us. And in this workshop, we are going to be covering a lot of these topics that we’re talking about, not just how to build a sales function in your business, but how do you get past the gatekeeper, and what are the five big component parts of closing an MSP sale.

How do you overcome objections and how do you get invited in? How do you get referrals, how do you charge higher fees and negotiate that with your clients? And how do you build that team and set up the sales and marketing systems to support the salespeople?

For all that and more, register today for our two-day sales workshop and discover BRAND-NEW ways to effortlessly sell more high-dollar IT and managed services contracts without fee resistance, discounting, or manipulative, hard close sales tactics.