Improve Your Managed Services Sales Pitch By Learning Your Buyer’s Core Needs
Buyer motivation is a topic that I have already covered in my book, The MSP Growth Funnel, but it is one that I revisit often in hopes to eventually peel back each and every layer possible of this very complex topic. As a fellow MSP, what I have found is that the reason why it is difficult to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes is because you can’t “un-know” everything that you have learned about technology throughout your career and put yourself in a position of technical vulnerability. Most of us have always been “power-users” at a minimum and it is difficult for us to think any other way.
One exercise that I have been going through recently is to think about this exact scenario but change the context to better reflect my own inefficiency. Rather than think about why I would buy IT Services, I think about why I would (or have in the past) purchase other services to fulfill a need in my business. For example, we hired a cleaning company to clean our offices. We hired a bookkeeping company to help us maintain our financial records. We hired an HR services company to help us with our benefits and employee relations. Why were these the things that we chose to outsource and perform other functions ourselves?
Here is why:
We hired a cleaning company because none of our employees wanted to clean up after themselves no matter how many times we asked. Trash cans piled up, bathroom were “icky”, and the carpet was a mess. It was impossible to get everyone to chip in without causing tension that would ultimately hurt company culture.
We hired a bookkeeper because we didn’t always have time to pick through transactions and reconcile accounts on a weekly basis. The backlog of these items would pile up and then would take hours of our time to get them caught up before we could run a report, or find out where we stood for the quarter.
We hired an HR company because we did’t know the laws when it comes to what we need to provide (or don’t need to provide) to employees in each state that we hired. Before outsourcing, we tried to research this on our own, but never could find the right information we needed and made costly mistakes as a result.
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Why Companies Outsource Major Business Functions
As you can see, each of these functions were outsourced for very different reasons but with the same result. In each case we collectively decided that this was something that was best to hand over to an outside party and take this off of our plate so that we could do more of what we did best. This meant that our need for these services had a lot to do with our company DNA, what we were good at, how much time we had, and what we thought was appropriate to do with it.
Small to medium sized businesses are really just a collection of individuals that wear many hats. They do not have a large corporate identity and structure, thus they are forced to pick and choose which functions of business they need to supplement with outsourced services. This might be for the same reasons, or for very different reasons depending on what the make-up of the buyer’s company consists of. In order to increase your ability to sell, you should attempt to pinpoint their precise reasoning behind the engagement which will always extend beyond the surface level issues that they present to you.
How To Identify Your Buyer’s Core Needs
Here are a few questions that I comprised after reviewing our own engagements and why we decided to buy various outsourced services for our business.
Does your buyer lack resources?
One spring morning at our MSP headquarters, I walked in to the office only to find the lobby completely covered in “stinkbugs.” I had never seen anything like this as the place was completely infested, almost overnight. After some research, I found a spray and traps that were available at the home improvement store that would apparently “off them” and prevent them from coming back. I sprayed, I put out the traps, and they worked for about 72 hours until the following Monday when I walked in to find an apocalyptic infestation double the size as the original.
Eventually after several attempts, I was forced to call an exterminator and sign up for a recurring service plan to keep the bugs out. Why? Because they had access to the right commercial chemicals, tools and resources needed to get rid of them, which I couldn’t go buy at a store. This is much like an MSP and your access to specific products that are only sold through the channel. Sometimes these are the best possible solutions for the problem at hand and as an MSP you are able to leverage this value in a way that a Business couldn’t achieve on their own.
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Does your buyer lack information?
In the later stages of our business, we brought on an outsourced CFO to help us better organize our financials so that we had a clear picture of the overall health of the business. It was clear that our goal was to grow the company, but since no one at the company had any experience in business finance, we thought it would be best to bring someone on that did. This was to ensure that we could trust our numbers and make very important decisions based on these finanical figures.
What we realized from this relationship was that sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. We learned information that we could have never “Googled” because we had financial problems that we didn’t even know we had. This is very common when selling Managed Services to Small Businesses that lack the fundamental understandings of how business technology works and what benefits they can get out of leveraging it. If you ask the right questions within your sales pitch, you may be able to open up their eyes to new solutions that they may never thought they would have needed, and definitely would not have known to ask for.
Does your buyer lack time?
Another vendor relationship that we had at our business was with our Landscapers. We paid them to mow our grass, mulch our gardens, irrigate, and clean up leaves and debris. These are all things that I myself and just about anyone at our company are capable of doing (and probably do so on the weekends at home). So if everyone in the building was capable of performing these tasks, then why did we pay someone else to do them? The answer to this is simply, “time.”
Given the rather inexpensive cost and incredibly efficient work ethic of the crew, it would have been more expensive to have our own team mow our lawn than to just hire it out to someone else. This is also how many Small Businesses approach Managed IT Support when evaluating their needs. Could they research and resolve their own Level 1 IT problems? Yes, many could do so and eventually find the answer that they are looking for. However, a Help Desk likely has seen the problem, knows the solution and can provide it much faster and more efficiently than the business could achieve on their own.