Where to start with sales

When it comes to sales, many MSPs follow a system that yields consistent results. But consistent doesn’t necessarily mean effective sales processes that will get you to the next level. Quite the opposite in fact – consistent can mean yielding the same results with no growth and a static sales process.

Getting sales right can often be misconceived. And what we so often see happen is that when a sales function is not proving effective, the blame is laid squarely at the feet of the sales staff, who are often let go, and then the flawed sales process starts again.

Common mistakes

The first mistake we so often see MSPs make is trying to hire above what they’re able to manage. If you’re not a seasoned sales manager, then anyone who says they’ve sold before is going to seem like a good find. Plus, they’re likely good enough to say what you want to hear, and then take your money while they’re not performing for you.

The second mistake we see is wanting someone who can “hit the ground running.” Even if you’re hiring the most experienced salesperson you can find, they still need to be integrated and onboarded into your company. They need to have a deep understanding of who you are, why you do what you do, how you do what you do, what the different service catalog items are that you’re selling, why your clients want those things, who your clients are, how you deliver services, and so on. So a thorough onboarding process is critical.

And the third common mistake we see is not having that infrastructure in place. And infrastructure in this instance means a strong, well-written, thoughtful, meaningful job description, along with an excellent compensation plan, a CRM that’s ready for daily activities and tracking, and a process for flowing through from first call all the way to creating a proposal and handing it off to the service team.

Where to start

As the owner of the MSP, you have very likely built it up from scratch, but that doesn’t mean that when hiring sales staff, you should go looking for the next you. Instead break it down and be simple – you’re the owner and you have excellent selling skills, but trying to find someone to emulate that is a mistake that so many MSPs make. Not only will you not find what you’re looking for, you also won’t be able to offer them what they need in terms of resources, infrastructure, your time, or a satisfactory management structure.

Instead, find a junior person who you can bring on to start with the basics, such as making appointments for you. And as they get better and better at making appointments, slowly graduate them to coming along to those appointments and being your sales protégé. And then bring in another appointment setter and you’re building your pipeline from the bottom up and starting everyone with the most foundational skill – can you call a stranger, be interesting enough to sell yourself and get down the path of closing a deal?

The goal is to bring entry-level salespeople into your organization, have an infrastructure in place for them to succeed at their initial role of appointment setting, coupled with a very clear path to graduating them up to the point where they are standalone salespeople getting out there and closing deals with net new business.

Build your sales team from the bottom up. Train your staff in sales basics and provide them with a deep understanding of what your business does. Ensure they have the knowledge and tools to succeed and grow both themselves and the business. Trying to approach it from the top downwards will only yield consistent staff turnover, lackluster sales figures, and disappointment for both you and the salespeople you hire.