Plan for selling managed services

Selling managed services is more of a science than an art. There are a number of key points to consider when selling managed services and a core set of knowledge is required. When selling managed services, you need to follow a script that you have developed with your customers, listening to them and adjusting your sales strategy.

We focus on solving the customer’s problems and helping them to better exploit the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead of them. This is solution selling and you can’t go into a client engagement convinced that you know the answer, the answer comes from engaging with the client. Business Development Managers (BDM) in Managed Services are typically responsible for a series of branches or regions. BDM must sell to two audiences: the front-line sales force they support, and the client. It is important that each BDM has a game plan for ‘activating’ the sales team in their area.

Excellent support from the central offer/product management team is required, but most importantly, the BDM must have the right ‘on the ground’ interaction with the front line sales team. It is important to clearly communicate to the front line sales force their roles and responsibilities, and the roles and responsibilities of the Managed Services Team. It is important that the objectives of the Managed Services Team Bookings are clearly communicated in order to achieve the managed services booking targets. This needs to be agreed with the sales leadership. Essentially, you want to ensure that your frontline sales people are able to identify opportunities and work with you to drive the sales process forward. Of course, it is important that they remain engaged in the relationship with the customer.

Beyond that, front-line account teams are usually ineffective: once the role of the MS BDM is clarified, ‘who does what’ in sales is usually not an issue. The frontline account team has the final say on what is proposed and how it is presented. This should always be the attitude of the BDM; it is never in the long-term interests of the BDM to go beyond its remit. You can disagree on sales strategy, and you can discuss it with your front-line sales managers. But it must be done in such a way that it does not damage long-term relationships or managed services. 

If you are selling through a front line sales force, the MS BDM must be responsible for activating that front line sales force. You have to be in constant communication with the sales force, the sales managers, the branch managers, the region managers – everyone. You need to communicate regularly. The executive managing the BDM also needs to play a very active role, working with the sales executives in the sales force. They will need deliverables and materials from the central MS product management team. They need deliverables and materials from the central MS product management team, but they also need to feel a sense of ownership over the success of the activation of the sales teams they support. You will need to deliver a series of presentations to ensure that your front line sales people understand their role in the successful activation of the sales teams they support.  In addition to the presentation there are a number of other deliverables that the front line sales team should have. Having a “Managed Services Sales Playbook” is extremely useful.

The Managed Services Sales Playbook is a review of all aspects of identifying and driving the sale of a managed services range. In addition, it can be very effective to create a one-page ‘cheat sheet’ covering the why, what and how of selling. These should be in addition to your product briefing materials. This ‘cheat sheet’ or ‘battle card’ is a very concise document that briefly outlines why you should sell managed services, why you are selling managed services, your target audience, your offer, your value proposition, your core value proposition and your core differentiators. It is recommended that these should be held by the front line sales force or other support groups.

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