The past three weeks have been exciting and exhausting, jam-packed with a busy schedule of IT channel events. With so many events, it has been tough to take it all in, but the interesting conversations I had and lessons I learned made it worth all the planes, taxis, valets, and hotel hiccups along the way. Here are a handful of simple sales tips for MSPs I picked up from some of the industry’s best teachers, big thinkers, and talented professionals currently touring the IT circuit.
1. Teach, Don’t Sell
The hard and direct sell is over. “Take a lesson from Tesla Motors,” said branding expert Sasha Strauss. When you visit a Tesla Motors store (in the mall of all places), you can’t buy a Tesla. The Tesla team is there solely to educate, get the conversation started, and use lifestyle marketing (think Harley Davidson) to attract customers for life.
VARs and MSPs are in the perfect spot to educate and enable. With the help of vendors and distributors, as well as their own resources, they can easily “show and tell” customers and prospects how to use technology to solve for the best business outcome. From the website to the war room, it is no longer about selling. It is about teaching customers and prospects, as well as the home team, about what they don’t know. That’s what will make a difference.
2. See Things from the Customer’s Point of View
It is a common piece of advice, but it’s one that is often lost on naval-gazing companies of all sizes from all industries. Author Daniel Pink spoke earlier this month at the Ingram Micro ONE event in Orlando and encouraged the audience to “get out of your own head and see it from someone else's perspective.”
Too often in the IT industry, we get wrapped up in our own jargon and our own hype. What is in it for the customer? That’s the big ask, and the answer is what we should be teaching others about.
3. Invest in Your Brand and Your Website
“Your website can be the best sales person if you build it right,” said Dennis Crupi of Ingram Micro. Having a website used to be just another box to check. That’s changed since the boom of e-tail and the rise of social media. Now the look, feel, and promise of a brand that’s delivered through a company’s website means so much more—and for good reason. A website is a reflection of the business and a big tell as to what type of company a customer or prospect is dealing with.
Sam Haffar of Computex, one of the industry-leading national IT solution providers on the CRN Solution Provider 500, shared this gem with me in a VSR interview last year when asked about how to succeed: “You have to look and operate like the companies you want to attract.” Sam’s philosophy makes it easy to see why Computex spent the time to invest in a brand refresh after acquiring several companies and is now kicking ass in the mid-market and enterprise with major brands.
4. Be Delightful
“Delightful experiences create customer loyalty,” said JP Jauvin of SolarWinds N-able. When the RMM pioneer set off to create its latest platform, which launched earlier this month, the focus was to make the tech’s life easier—at the office, in the field, or even on a plane flying at 32,000 feet.
As trusted IT service providers, VARs and MSPs can’t ignore the customer experience and just rely on the technology to get it done. Business is personal because people value relationships and want to be loved. Channel partners must do everything in their power to be delightful and kind to customers, partners, and prospects. Show them what they need and how easy it is for them to attain it. Make the business case, build a relationship, and keep getting it done!
5. Stay Out of the Penalty Box
Nitel Channel Chief Michael Gough recently spoke at the PlanetOne Communications Telecom Tour in Newport Beach and offered this piece of advice to attendees: “Work for a company that keeps you out of the penalty box.” The comment brought laughter to the room, but Michael wasn’t joking.
When vendors and channel partners keep the business focused on doing what’s right for everyone involved, no one spends time in the penalty box. Business is good. Life is good. Join or build a company that takes pride in relationships and achieving real results that make a meaningful difference in the day-to-day, as well as the long-term.
Successful selling isn’t a one-and-done achievement. It’s a way of doing business.
As president and founder of WhiteFox, Marie is recognized throughout the IT channel for her straightforward, business-minded approach to channel marketing, PR and communications. With more than 15 years of experience in the IT channel, Marie is a friendly face at industry events and a respected advisor and colleague to many of the channel’s most innovative companies and business partners. Marie launched WhiteFox Marketing and Communications in 2005 with the vision of bringing channel relationships, marketing, PR and communications to the forefront of companies’ business growth strategies and tactics.