Have you ever wondered why 80% of the MSPs out there today never break the million-dollar mark, never grow, and never really make any kind of profit? Why they’re plagued with cheap clients that aggravate them and don’t appreciate what they do even though right now the demand for outsourced IT support and services, being driven by cybersecurity and compliance, is booming?
I’ll tell you why. It’s because they don’t have an effective sales function in their business and it’s killing them. I’m going to tell you the truth as to why this is hurting you, how it’s hurting you, and what you can do to start fixing this even if you have zero background in sales and you’re one of those techie owners that might be a little afraid to get into sales.
One of the things that keeps small MSPs small and struggling is a complete lack of a sales function in their business. And one of the problems that a lot of MSPs have when they start their business is that they come from the operations technical background, they’ve never carried a quota, they’ve never been in sales, and they’ve never had to go hunt business to prospect or negotiate deals. So they really don’t have any knowledge or experience of sales at all. They just know how to do a great job at IT. The other problem is because they don’t have a sales and marketing background, they have no sales systems in place and no marketing systems in place to bring them qualified opportunities. They participate in what I call vulture marketing, where you wait for some piece of business to die in front of you and then you go jump on the carcass and peck at it with the rest of the vultures.
And because of all these things, because of the technical background, having no experience in sales, really not knowing where to start, they don’t have any sales function in their business.
So when I talk to an MSP and they come to me and they want to grow, I ask them, “Who’s in charge of sales in your organization? Who’s in charge of new client acquisition and making sure you hit certain targets for growth?”
Often they’ll answer, “There’s three people on my team. It’s me, myself, and I.” And then I say, “Well, how trained are these people?” And they say, “Zero, I have zero experience.”
This hurts you in a lot of ways and you might not even realize how much it’s hurting you. One of the ways it hurts you is that you’re not getting any growth in your business. As I said, you’re doing the vulture marketing plan. You don’t have any opportunities because you’re not doing prospecting and even if you stumble upon an opportunity, you don’t have a process in place to work those opportunities and work those relationships.
Sales is not something that just happens. You don’t luck upon sales. You don’t just go, “Well, I’m pretty mediocre or grossly inadequate in sales” and, “Oh, look at this, I’ve got an abundance of customers wanting to do business with me.” It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got this thing called competition and your competition is going to eat you alive because some of your competitors are sales driven. The CEOs are ambitious, they’ve got a sales background. They understand that sales function, and they are going to go out and hunt and get the best customers, the customers who have a flexible wallet, a budget for IT, who appreciate what you do, and are in need of what you do. But they’re going to get to them first and they’re going to sell them on why they should do business with them versus doing business with you.
Because of this, you end up with a lot of crappy clients because you’re basically taking the leftovers. So you take the people who are looking for cheap IT, who don’t want to spend the money, and that’s how you’re winning clients because you don’t have a good sales function. You lower your prices or you sell for a lot less than you could because to get better quality clients and get higher prices requires that you understand how to have those conversations with a new prospect, negotiate your fees, show your value, demonstrate your value, and even knock out the incumbent provider because the really good clients are already outsourcing their support to someone else.
Really good clients who need IT are not sitting around going, “Man, I wish there was an IT company around here we could call.” I mean, there’s an abundance of them. So for you to win and get the best possible clients, you have to be able to sell them on why to do business with you, knock out that incumbent, show them your value, differentiate yourself, and negotiate your fees.
And again, because you don’t have that process, you end up with a bunch of crappy clients that you cling to and that frustrates you and your team. You end up keeping them because you can’t replace them.
The question then is if that’s you, where do you start? And the place you need to start is you need to get some sort of sales training. Selling is not something you’re just born with. Selling is a skill. Just like you learned how to support a network or how to implement a cybersecurity protocol in a business. Selling is no different. There are systems, there’s a structure, and there’s a process to it. You don’t want to go out there and be a fool and try and figure it out on your own.
You can’t just say, “Well, I’ll just get some sales calls or hire some salespeople and we’ll just sling hash and see what happens.” You’re going to be banging your head against the wall and making a bunch of unnecessary mistakes because you can find somebody else who’s been there successfully that can give you the recipe for it. Someone who can give you the playbook and then you learn from that.
That is what I would strongly recommend that you do. You’ve got to be in some sort of mentoring program or sales training program. You, the owner, need to do this because if you don’t know how to sell, don’t have the structure in place, don’t know what the expectations are, and what the activities are that need to happen, how are you going to recruit salespeople? How are you going to lead a good sales team? How are you going to build that function in your business if you have absolutely no knowledge of it whatsoever? And the answer is you won’t.
What you’re going to end up doing is hiring one salesperson after another, being disappointed, being frustrated, wasting a lot of time and money, and then you’re just going to end up going back to just doing it yourself. Then you’re the bottleneck to growth. So again, you need training.
Coming up soon is our two-day deep dive workshop on sales for MSPs specifically. The workshop is focused on building the sales function in your business because it’s not just about you being a better salesperson, it’s about understanding the roles and the responsibilities and understanding how you build that team and where you start. It’s okay if you’re completely inept at this, and even if you’re really good, we’re still going to cover a lot of materials that are going to outline for you exactly how the sales function should work, who to hire, where to start, et cetera.