Selling managed services is similar to selling other technologies in some respects, but also very different in others. It is by no means an easy sale and often involves a rigorous and lengthy process of generating demand, generating interest, developing a proposal and closing the deal. If done correctly, it can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship between the customer and the managed services vendor, but if done incorrectly, it can lead to a huge waste of time and effort, a lot of hope, and ultimately disappointment.
A managed services sales and support team is a key component of a successful managed services business. Most managed services vendors sell their services using front line sales teams who are not equipped or trained to sell managed services, but their core expertise is in selling core vendor products such as technology and transport But their core expertise is selling core vendor products such as technology and transport. It takes skill and science to sell managed services using a sales force that is essentially selling other products. It requires working with a sales team that basically sells other products and working with a front-line sales team in your core business. Whether you’re an independent player in managed services or selling through a partner, it works the same way.
Selling managed services is fundamentally different from selling technology or telecom services. It requires someone who fully understands your offering and its core value proposition, and who can talk directly to the customer. You will be able to talk through the customer’s pain points, thoughtfully craft a solution, make a proposal and ultimately close the deal. This sales support role is one of the key success factors for a successful managed services business. This role has many different titles, but we will refer to it as the Managed Services Business Development Manager (BDM) The BDM is usually responsible for the frontline sales force in a particular region, or in several branches or regions The BDM is the focal point of the managed services sales effort.
In an independent, or ‘pure-play’ managed services sales team, it is reasonable to assume that if you sell through a partner, as many companies do, your own sales team will sit above the partner’s sales support group. Any sales activity outside of BDM will require additional managed services support. First and foremost, you need a technical pre-sales engineer to work alongside the BDM. This is necessary in order to provide technical reliability to our customers. Ultimately, we need to be convinced that we can meet the performance requirements of our customers. The pre-sales engineer plays a key role in this. Furthermore, I believe in setting up a managed services sales support line. This sales support line will be the first point of contact if you are looking to sell managed services through a partner and will support the partner’s front line sales force. For the front line sales force, it helps to ensure that the deal with the customer goes smoothly in the absence of the Managed Services BDM. This team can also proactively call on both sales representatives and end users to stimulate demand. It is common for the sales support line to be managed by a relatively senior person, with a few younger team-mates under him. You can tell them that the line is open at certain times of the day and that you are committed to a one-hour call-back.
By promising to call back within the hour to your sales representatives, you can give them the confidence they need. Another advantage of having a sales support line in place is that it keeps the sale moving in the right direction. If for some reason the front line sales person feels uncomfortable talking to the BDM who is supporting him, for example because he is worried that he will not be taken seriously, or that the front line sales person will take control of the sale, or that the BDM’s performance in front of the customer is a concern If you are reluctant to speak to the BDM who is supporting you for any reason, the sales support line can provide a reassuring voice to ensure that the BDM is properly engaged.