Last week, a client and I had a discussion via email over this email on my listserv:
Memo to IT Consulting Shops With 1 to 5 Employees
The greatest strength any one person can have is to understand their weaknesses. And if you're a fledgling VAR / IT Consultant that is looking to transition to an MSP, the reason you won't be successful is that you can't sell. Let's have a grown-up discussion about the white elephant in the room. The reality is that you are an IT and tech person. You are really good at it and you're Left Brained. I get it. None of us are great at everything. You gain your customers through referrals and the good work that you do. You bill here and there, but it's a lumpy process and you're always off to the next fire. You have no time to think about building your business.
This article was from MSP Mentor, who consults for MSP's - and VAR's that want to transition to an MSP. My client stated, "The problem with this approach is that you want to teach me how to sell rather than actually sell." He's not the first client to want me to sell for them. In fact, most conversations I have with vendors, clients, prospects lead to sell my shit. Plain and simple. If I still wanted to sell on a daily basis B2B, wouldn't I just continue the Agent business that got me started in telecom in 1999?
Most of telecom has become a commodity sold via a website. DSL, cellular, TV, business lines, even some Hosted PBX. FreedomVoice, RingCentral, Speakeasy and Packet8 do a brisk business selling their services online without human interaction. You could to, if you invested mid-5 figures in an e-commerce site, then launched an affiliate program and a PPC campaign and hired someone to manage both.
Ma Bell would like most consumer and really small business services to be ordered and bought online. Ma Bell doesn't want to pay a commission for it or pay a salesperson for it. I don't know how that will work long term.
The key to beating the Duopoly is a passionate work force that is friendly, helpful and enthusiastic. This carries over to the prospects and clients. Hopefully, you hatch a few raving fans - and through word of mouth you get more business.
Hope as a Strategy. You hope that referrals come in. You hope your "Referral Program" works. If you are not actively working it, asking for referrals, letting people know about the referral program. Another factor is how easy is it to refer or do business with you???Your clients are like Tribe. How do you interact with that Tribe? Or do you just leave them alone until they call you?
I have another client who wanted a turn-key sales force. There's no such thing. I won't promise what I cannot deliver. He hired a sales management firm, who from my observations has not delivered either.
My latest book, LIT BUILDINGS, looks at sales types, sales planning, and prospecting. You have to match up your sales person with what they are selling and how they sell and to they are selling. There's no such thing as a natural born sales guy. There are people who enjoy selling and have a high drive to sell, but usually you are looking for someone friendly, inquisitive and who is enthusiastic about the product or services. The sales guy has to believe that they are providing the prospect with the best solution available. Otherwise, how do you sell it? Especially without the multi-million dollar branding of the Duopoly.
The other side of the coin is that scale is a difficult burden. If you sell a lot, you have to ramp up provisioning, customer service, hardware, etc. And that comes down to two limited resources: time and money. So if you start landing sales, will you be able to handle turn up and service delivery?
In an article about business ideas (here), the author states that people want results without effort and What Worked Yesterday Won’t Work Today. Generally, I think you see that as much as I do. Change is happening fast. You can adapt to it or not, but it happens anyway.