When you are starting out your MSP, you probably just figured sales out. You got a referral, and you met with the prospect. Eventually you provided some sort of proposal and in many cases, you closed the sale.
If you’re still doing sales in the “just figure it out” method, it’s time to upgrade. Leveling up your processes is something every small business must do. Today’s ramble is about understanding and building your sales funnel.
Why care about a Sales Funnel?
The simple reason to care about your Sales Funnel is that you will be more consistent with sales closes if you have a funnel, or simply a standardized process.
A Sales Funnel / process is designed to move your sales leads through the system and to not lose track of them along the way.
Use your Sales Funnel to both qualify and DISqualify leads along the way. You should eject leads that won’t be a good fit. Taking a bad fit lead all the way to the end is just wasted time.
Defining a sales funnel and process will also help you offload sales to a sales person or team when you’re ready. Many Managed Service Providers and other small businesses don’t have a solid and scalable process until after they hire a sales person. This delays getting that new sales professional up to speed and out there closing deals.
Stages in a Sales Funnel
A typical Sales Funnel has several stages. Often the stages are something like the following:
- Lead Qualification
- Discovery Meeting
- Technical Assessment
Stage 1: Lead Qualification
The first stage is to make sure that you’re properly qualifying the lead. It’s imperative that you ask questions and learn about your prospect to make sure that they would be a good fit for YOU in addition to you being a good fit for them. This is often a phone or video call, but you might have this meeting over coffee or lunch.
One topic to address during some of these early meetings is to give some sort of ballpark range of what they can expect from you as far as pricing. You want to gauge their reaction to determine if this will be a sticking point later on in your process.
Stage 2: Discovery Meeting
The Second Stage is your discovery meeting. This is a more in-depth meeting to learn more about their business and what their concerns/pain points are with technology. Your goal is to get them to share about their business so you can address their needs with your proposal later on in the Sales Funnel process. I like to ask lots of questions about their business, how do they make money, how do they utilize technology, and that sort of thing.
This is one area of the stages where you might combine this with the next stage – the Technical Assessment.
The key third stage of your Sales Funnel is your Technical Assessment. This is your opportunity to learn about the state of the prospect’s network, security, and general status of their IT infrastructure. Your goal is to learn enough about their network to understand if you can support them after you complete your onboarding process. It’s also important to determine if there are any additional projects or issues that should be addressed with your proposal. Sometimes you’ll have several projects to complete to get them up to speed, and sometimes they’re already in good shape. The key is that unless you actually complete this assessment, you won’t know.
The Technical Assessment is the stage that CANNOT be skipped. Your Technical Assessment should be performed by one of your technical resources that is part of your technical team. I’ve seen first hand the trouble that can be found when a Technical Assessment is skipped, performed by the sales person, or done so quick it might as well been skipped. This leaves you open to onboarding a prospect that might be a bad fit.
Do. Not. Skip. The. Technical. Assessment.
By now in your Sales Funnel, you should have a good idea whether or not you want to sign this prospect or not. If you don’t think they’ll be a good fit, DON’T give them a proposal.
Your proposal is the first deliverable you put in front of this prospect, so make sure that you have your ducks in a row. Your proposal process and documents should be largely standardized so you can turn around a proposal quickly and accurately. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel each time you do this so build out your templates as you grow.
You will want to include any onboarding fees and an overview of that process, your ongoing support information and fees, and any recommended projects that should be tackled right away. If you have projects that should be on their roadmap for later you should mention them as part of this process so it’s not a surprise later.
You should try to have this meeting in-person if possible, and I wouldn’t include pricing in the initial proposal. I’ve seen too many prospects get handed a proposal and flip to the back page to see the pricing. Your goal is have the conversation about how your projects, services, and expertise helps solve their business and technology problems. It should become apparent to them that your company is clearly the best choice for the health of their business. THEN give them the pricing once you’ve been able to show them how awesome you are.
Closing the Deal
At this point, you are hoping for a “yes” on the proposal so you can move forward with scheduling the onboarding project and all of that. I’m a big fan of getting a “yes” or a “no” — the last thing I want at this stage is a “maybe” or anything resembling that. Getting a maybe stinks because you’re in limbo until they eventually make a decision.
If you don’t get a yes, bummer. That said, hopefully you’ve built up some rapport with them and can follow-up in the future. You might not be in their buying window. It’s possible that their contract with the existing service provider has a bit of time left on it. Here’s your opportunity to ask some more questions about following up and when those contracts expire. If you find that you’re simply not in the buying window make a plan to follow-up in a few months to see if anything has changed.
If you get a yes, CONGRATULATIONS! It’s time to start the onboarding process. Get the onboarding team all of the information you’ve learned about your new client and get that project moving!
As you can see, there’s quite a bit to building a Sales Funnel. I’ll revisit this in upcoming rambles to build on what we’ve started with the Marketing Process and this Sales Funnel process. In the meantime, put together a solid Sales Funnel Process and go close some deals!
Thanks for coming on this ramble with me, and I hope to see you on the next one.