I bought life insurance this year. I purchased it from a man who showed up at our new house completely unannounced one afternoon. He welcomed us to the neighborhood and asked us a few questions about why we had bought this house. Did we outgrow our old one? Were we new to the city? Could he come back and say hello when we were more settled in?
Fast forward past the getting to know you questions, our new financial services guy – his name is Blake, and he’s delightful – sold us life insurance ... and did this without having to say “If you die” or “If the unthinkable happens” or any of the other alarmist things that other insurance sales reps have said to me in the past.
That pitch doesn’t work on me. Why? I haven’t really considered the fact that I’m going to die. It’s not going to happen to me. Of course, we all know there is a 100% chance that I am going to die. It’s just not an event I can picture with such immediacy that it’s ever caused me to take action before. And Blake isn’t the first guy who tried to sell me insurance. Many informed me that my time on this planet was limited and I should take action to protect my loved ones. I half heard them, and most of me knew they were probably right, but I just didn’t want to have the conversation. I didn’t return their calls, and I went back to living my life that would never end.
How to avoid the ostrich phenomenon
Compare this with selling managed services contracts. Most small business owners truly believe that “it” isn’t going to happen to them, whatever “it” is. Their company is too small to draw the attention of cybercriminals.Their area isn’t affected by natural disasters. They won’t be the target of any kind of lawsuit or IRS investigation that requires them to provide years of documentation. It’s not going to happen to them. And suggesting that it might causes the ostrich phenomenon.
There’s a reason they aren’t thinking about it happening - they don’t want to think about it happening. Their heads are completely submerged in the sand. Pushing them to the edge of that realization likely wins the next guy business. Not you. You’re the guy who informed them they are going to die, and who wants to talk to that guy?
Identify Major Sales Triggers
So how do you sell something that no one wants to talk about? Let’s go back to Blake’s approach. First, he noticed a sales trigger. We just purchased a new home. That means we’re a good candidate for insurance. Asking questions about why we purchased that particular home helped him prepare for what sort of products he should discuss with us. Your prospects are no different. Identify your major sales triggers and find ways to uncover those leads.
I’m using moving as the metaphor/major event trigger, so in this case you could walk your city, find “for sale” signs, and wander in to see what company is coming in or going out. (Bring some treats to share. That always helps!) Start building a referral network by reaching out to any company that would be able to give you a heads up when they learn that a company in their network is about to move, build, or grow. Remember, you’ll need to give referrals to keep getting them, so be prepared to reciprocate.
Build a Positive Business Case
When you uncover one of these leads, approach the conversation in a fashion that doesn’t lead with the worst case scenario. Don’t go in guns-a-blazing talking about disasters and theft. Something exciting is happening in this company – they are growing, they are changing – and the last thing you want to be is the guy who reminds them it could all come to an end at any minute. Ask questions. Learn more about your prospect.
Build a business case for a managed services contract that covers the unthinkable but focuses on the positive benefits that companies reap when they make that change. Help them through a discovery that identifies what a lost day of productivity company-wide looks like. Show them different options so they can choose the one that will best suit their budget and requirements. Most importantly, support them through this decision so they don’t go all “ostrich” on you.
Selling peace of mind
You can’t sell a managed services contract the way you sell other types of technology. You need to start selling your managed service offering like you would an insurance policy. After all, isn’t that what managed services is all about? Peace of mind in the face of potential disaster? Also, if you haven’t already, you should probably buy life insurance. I know a guy.
Carrie Simpson is the founder of Managed Sales Pros, a lead generation firm dedicated to providing new business opportunities for MSPs. Carrie teaches IT firms how to build, manage, and grow their sales pipelines. You can follow Carrie on Twitter @sales_pros and connect with her on LinkedIn.