B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro
B2B Tech Talk with Ingram Micro

Episode · 2 years ago

How IT Providers Can Improve Their Sales Game | Cisco Series


Most IT providers can admit that sales and marketing aren’t always our forte. 

If we ever had the choice, we’d choose to discuss features over budget every time. 

Alas, the sales and marketing bits are what make businesses grow. They are simply unavoidable. 

That’s why it’s so helpful when a professional like Erick Simpson joins us on B2B Tech Talk. In this episode, guest host Logan Lyles of Sweet Fish Media catches up with Erick – the creator of the MSP Mastered™ methodology – at Ingram Micro’s ONE event

The two discuss:  

  • How to bring up budget with a potential buyer 
  • The power in offering three options 
  • The three different types of tech buyers  

Follow us on Twitter @IngramTechSol #B2BTechTalk 

Sponsored by Cisco and Ingram Micro Financial Solutions 

Listen to this episode and more like it by subscribing to B2B Tech Talk on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher. Or, tune in on our website.

You're listening to be tob tech talk with angram micro, the place to learn about new technology and technological advances before they become mainstream. This special edition one episode is sponsored by Cisco, taking your business a level up. Let's get into it. Welcome back to be tob tech talk with Ingram micro. I'm your guest host today, Logan Lyles, with sweet fish media. We're recording on site here in Denver, Colorado, at the Ingram micro one event. I'm joined today by Eric Simpson. I got a chance to catch his breakout session, one of them yesterday. He is an IT business transformation in channel growth expert. He's also an author, a consultant and the creator of the MSP, mastered methodology for business improvement. Eric hasn't gone today. Sir, it's going pretty fantastic looking. Thanks for having me yes absolutely. As mentioned, I got a chance to check out one of your presentations yesterday and a breakout session, and you were talking a lot about pricing and proposal development as well as presentation. So tell us a little bit about some of the keys that you think folks are missing when it comes to choosing and presenting the right pricing sure well, you know, I'll first start off by saying that I think marketing and sales are the IT solutional writers Achilles is heel. So any opportunity that I have to work with them on helping them hone those aspects of their offering is great. I mean, they're awesome at architecting these great solutions to help their clients realize their business vision through through the the smart investment in technology, security and all the above. But you know why I love doing the session I did yesterday so much, which was really, you know, tips to really creating a killer proposal is to give them kind of that step by step prescriptive advice, and that's what these providers, you know, I think, really respond to is just tell me what I need to do. Yeah, and I'm willing to do it right. So. So, really the session was all about some key components in crafting the proposal, how to identify pricing so that you don't have sticker shock when you present it to your prospect or client, and really just how to present it properly during the sales engagement itself. Yeah, so let's call out some of those specific tips for increasing your closing percentage. One of those that I really liked, and you alluded to it there, how you talk about pricing and how you talk about budget earlier on can actually affect the end of the sales cycle a little bit. Right right. I love that you picked up on that logo. That was my very first tip is to always, always, always, ask the budget question during qualifying when you're sitting there with a prospect and it may be the first time you've ever met them. You know you've done your warm up, you've got them to relax a little bit, you've qualified them for their pain and now you have an understanding of what their pains are and and you're starting to formulating your mind what you think you might be able to architect to solve those pains and needs. What I tend to find, which is I think it's just an offshoot of technicians becoming sales professionals, there's this awkward feeling or awkwardness or hesitation to ask the budget question, and so I gave maybe you know, five or six really simple ways to ask the budget question with a prospect and you know they're they're really simple. If you make a big deal about anything during the sales process, guess what the prospects probably going to make a big deal too. So it's really important to just make it a conversation. So a simple way to ask budget question is, so, how will our initiative be funded? Right, just a simple question. How will this engagement be funded? Whose budget will support, you know, addressing this pain for you? Have you thought about a budget range to solve this important...

...problem? And you know, the other tip I gave was a lot of times prospects have no idea, like this might be the first time they're thinking about addressing this issue. And so then you've got to kind of dip into your art science, you know, bag of tricks and ask a leading question or make a statement, such as you know, for clients with in your particular situation, about your size. With these challenges, we've seen the need to find a budget within the range of x and y. So you kind of give yourself a little bit of a wiggle room there and then I always impress upon the folks that I work with to never ask, you know, how much budget do you have? It's not like they have budget laying around right. Hey, Logan, I'm glad you showed up. I got all this budget laying here. Can you help me, I stand somebody. So I always say, look, you use the term find. Is that you know, can we find some budget within that range? And then if the client says yeah, we can probably find some budget within that Rais. Now I'm getting into think about how do they find it? Not that you know they have it laying around. So that'll give you a clue as to where you can, you know, start architecting a solution. But in many cases maybe the client will say, a who no, I had no idea it was going to be that much. I really, you know, can't find that kind of budget. Then you can qualify some more and simply ask well, I mean, what kind of budget could we find? And if it's much less than what's required, then maybe that adjust our strategy to then create a proposal that phases the solution in over time. So maybe this quarter will take, you know, the highest priority things and maybe address those and if the client will agree to budget over phases, then maybe we can dip back into some new budget and the next quarter and so on until we get the solution completely implemented. I love what you're saying there, because I think a lot of people, you know, whether they're technicians, turn sales people or or just sales people. That question can be awkward. It can be intimidating to ask about budget. So I love the tip that you shared there and again today about finding budget. That's just paints a different picture in the perspective customers mind and also how to talk about that. Well, when the customer asked very early on, you know what are we looking at here? And you don't want to him and haw too much. Right, you want to act like you've been there before and giving that you know okay, from what I know today and a client's about your size looking to do something in this range, the range could be here to hear you don't paint yourself in a corner, but you also don't look like, well, you got to go through all six steps in my sales process before I ever give you a price. Right, right. So that's that sales prevention stuff that we talked about during session yesterday. Yeah, you want to you don't want to create a bunch of obstacles and create unnecessary objections at any point really during the sales process, but certainly not when you're in the very first meeting trying to qualify for need and budget and things like that. Yeah, talk a little bit about the three option scenario and those stats that you lay dout in your presentation yesterday when you're bundling giving an option one, two and three, and how that can make it easier for buyers to buy. Sure. So what I expressed yesterday was simply based upon human behavioral wiring and kind of the buyers mentality. So, you know, as human beings, a little good when we're asked to make a buying decision. Right, we're gonna do our research and let's just say, you know, I want to buy a, you know, a new flat screen TV for Christmas for the family and whatnot. We do our you know, research and we find exactly the model that we want. We say, Yep, this is it, this is the budget. Great. I go down and I'm in the retail store and and I see the flat screen. The salesperson comes over to help me and says, Hey, this is this what you're looking for? You looking for something in this size? Awesome, this is a great model and this is what it costs. But you know what, have you seen the model with these additional benefits or...

...these additional features? And you know, you know, we're shopping for TV. So No, I haven't shown me that right. And so the salesperson's shows me some another TV with additional benefits. You know, maybe it has better sound system, maybe it's a smart TV and maybe it, you know, does all these additional things. And so by offering me an additional option, now it is changed my buyers mentality from should I or shouldn't I? Right, so if I'm faced with that, no longer a binary decision, not a binary black and white decision. Now it's Oh, how should I buy? So it's the same thing. When we're asking clients to engage with us in our proposal, I always comm in that we use three options. You know, that's that power of threes that we always hear about. That has some really unique significance to us as humans. And so when I say this is my solution, this is what it costs, now I have to overcome the objections which may ultimately lead to a pricing objection which now maybe a junior sales professional might begin negotiating on price to try to sell that solution, which is counter to what we want to build our perception in the buyers mind to be. We are trusted advisor you know, everything that we do has value and we try to express that value during the sales process. So instead of offering just one option and asking the buyer to say yes or no to it, I suggest we offer three options. Now, the first option has to include everything that the buyer stated that they need within the budget that they've agreed to. This is an abate and switch tactic, right, not. Not The folks on house hunters. Well, we said we went into three bedroom house in your showing as a one bedroom condom. Right, yeah, this is not going to work, as that's obviously, you know, sales trickery. I guess it's going to your road, your the confidence in the buyer. So so the first option has everything they need within that budget and just like in the flat panel TV scenaria, I gave, Hey, this is what I looked at, this is what I need. The next option must have more qualitative value, so everything that was in the first option plus additional, different, unique benefits, not more of the same. So not twenty licenses, office three hundred and sixty five and option one and forty license is an option to that's not what I'm talking about. It has to be qualitatively better, not quantitatively better. And then the third option has even more value, right the highest. You know, some folks just want the best. So now when we present the our sales presentation to the buyer, we can say we've crafted the solution to fit right within your budget. But you know what, while I was doing that, I was thinking about a couple of other options you might be interested in. Would it be okay if I shared those with you? So it's a very smooth transition. They say sure, let me see what you've got ever sitting there, permission. And so studies have shown that when offered three options a buyer, eighty five percent of the time buyers will choose one of the two higher priced options. Wow, so, and that's all based upon how we construct those so it's it's all tied together right. We want the buyers really in our middle option. So we put the most value and potentially the highest margin for us in that middle option. So with three options of buyer will choose the first option fifteen percent of the time, if we construct it properly, the middle option sixty percent of the time and then the third option twenty five percent of the time. And it works just as advertised. I've been doing this for many, many years, and once I found that and discovered this way of offering options to clients, I've been really promoting that to the clients that I work with as well. Yeah, absolutely, if you look at it kind of the good, better best, just make sure that that first option is good or, as they've expressed, to your right. I think that point was really important. Also, real quick before we jump straight back into the episode today, we want to tell you about Ingram micro financial solutions and how you can maximize your buying power and get to yes with your customers faster. For the last nine years, Ingram micro has been channel pros reader's choice for best financing options. Put The power of our credit and leasing options to work for you.

You can easily contact financial solutions at Ingram microcom. All right, let's get back to the show. Another kind of rule of three you talked about yesterday is three types of technology buyers, and I would love for you to unpack those little bit and speak to how you might need to tweak your approach depending on what type of buyer you identified as you're going through the sales process or the qualification very early MMM. Yeah, so think of it as you're kind of ABC type of clients, right. So I so. I identify our best clients as a technology strategic buyer. So that means that they see their investment or spend on technology as giving them a unique advantage in their market. So these are the folks that are strategic about investing in all areas of their businesses in technology. So this kind of follows that strategic business leader mentality. So they are the ones that are the most APP to either create a budge it when you ask them to create a budget for technology, or already have one in place and are really going to work best with you as you map out their technology road map over time to help them achieve their business goals through the judicious application and investment in in the right technologies. The second type of buyer, so there's those, are your a clients. Their second type of buyer will be your technology dependent clients. Now these folks may not be quite as strategic as the first group and the way they see technology, but their businesses depend so heavily on that Yep, that they are forced to invest in it. And if we're doing our job right as their trusted advisor, right, we are helping transform those technology dependent leaders into more technology strategic leaders by asking them to budget for investments in technology through quarterly business reviews and strategic planning sessions and things like that. And then so there're your be clients, right, and the last group really become your averse client. You're averse customers. So these your technology a verse customers. These are the folks that, hey, you know, we've all had them in our client base and many of us still do. And these are the folks that simply do not see the value of technology as they should, as a driver of business and a driver of innovation their business and and helping them to improve productivity and efficiency and and secure and all these necessary things that we have to address nowadays. But they see it more as a is, you know, necessary evil. So yeah, they're not great, way to put it. They're not going to invest in it. They're going to wait until the systems fail and then pay you more money now, because prevention is always more cost effective than right, you know, firefighting, remediation at the end of it, and you're really not going to grow that lifetime client value with these technology overse customers as you would with your dependent and strategic clients. Yeah, so you know, the guidance there is simply go seek out technology strategic clients when you're prospecting, except those, of course, but also accept technology dependent clients and just shy away from the technology of verse customers. Yeah, I can remember, you know, almost a dozen years of beb tech sales and I would walk into an office and see all this old technology, you know, tube monitors, yellowing computers and keyboards, and these guys are right, they need all this great technology. And I realized, hold on a second, there's a reason they're hanging on to all this old technology and they were, as you described it, technology a verse clients and getting them to move I end up spending my wheels a lot of time. So limit your time there and take it for what it's worth and as your prioritizing your territory or your list of accounts, look for those technology strategic that's a great a great point to make, because a lot of times, you know, new sales professionals will try to spend as...

...much time with these technology overse customers as they you know, and that's really robbing their strategic and dependent clients that are willing to invest in and grow their business it's robbing, name of the time they should be spending with them. Yeah, absolutely. So you touched on nine key components of killer proposals. If there are sales professionals out there in the channel thinking, man, if I could just get one of mine to be killer, I would be in a much better place if they were going to take action on one of those right now. What do you think is maybe the most important or maybe the easiest lever to get the most juiced for the squeeze if they're trying to improve their proposals just a little bit, if they, you know, are listening to this today? Well, yes, I covered nine specific kind of items within a proposal that we should always include in the proposal, but for today's podcast I'm going to give you one that I didn't mention yesterday. That if I had to pick one over all of those, it wasn't in the top nine. I should have mentioned it yesterday. But always put a time limit on your proposal. This proposal expires on, you know, ride a November twenty eight at midnight. I've had this experience myself and I've got clients that have had this experience where a client has kind of passed on a proposal and then, six months later, decide side Oh, you know what, let's go ahead and do that, you know, project. And now when costs have gone up, hardware has gone up, everything is changed, it really hurts the provider in having to then say okay, yes, I'll do it for that price because things have changed. So always put a you know, an expiration date on the proposals and make sure and let the client know that we need a decision by that. And I don't mean you make it three days from now. Be Realistic, you know, give them a couple of weeks or whatever. But you know then when they come back later, say okay, I'm going to have to, you know, re reprice it, and that gives you an opportunity to maintain your margins. Yeah, absolutely, and it can help drive a sense of urgency in the sales process. I've had customers reach out and say, Oh, it says I'm only got two days left on this proposal. Is it valid? Okay, well, what's been going on? What's what's going on? You know, maybe they went silent for a couple of weeks, which leads me to a question that you mentioned. Sales people should always ask before any sales presentation. Can you talk about that key question and and what that does in that point in the sales process? MMM, yes, this the the most elusive and most important, elusive question because nobody remembers to ask it, but the most important question to ask before we you're going to do your sales presentation. Now you're in the you're in the sales presentation phase of the sales process and you're sitting out with the client. You warmed them up a little bit and you're getting ready to transition into doing your sales presentation. This is the question you should always, is, always, always ask and it's a simple one. Has Anything changed since we last spoke? That's it and this will save you grief, I promise you. And it's you know, I've had it happened to me where clients have said, Oh, yes, we've had, you know, this emergency, you know just last week, and the following question then becomes Oh, and dealing with that emergency impact the budget that we have for our initiative, and in many cases it does, and so the guidance there. If it has impacted the budget, do not proceed with your sales presentation as you had prepared it now you have to go back and requalify. Maybe there's less budget. Typically there's less budget and now you have to requalify and then come back with another strategy. Maybe you've got to phase it in, like we talked about earlier. or The opposite might happen Logan, where the client says, yes, we have had a something significant change on our strategic planning and and I've asked, Oh, and what? What is that? And they've said, well, we've decided to open up another office. Now I love that change. That's the best one. That's happened to me three times, something that has allowed me to again not proceed right with my existing sales presentation because now I have an opportunity to qualify for a much larger opportunity. So...

...that's the guidance there. Yep. So ask that question and if you get a Yes, do not proceed, do not pass, go, do not collect two hundreds and then right and stop and requalify, because because you've told some stories where sales professionals were keen and on the spot and they asked the question but they didn't stop and they went ahead with presentation as as planned. Right, Yep, that was a recent client of mine. I was training one of their new sales professionals. That's exactly what happened. I was coaching him through it. They called me the day of. They got done with the sales meeting and they say, I said, so, how did it go? Oh, I think it went great. Did you ask the question, the most important question? Yes, I did. I said, awesome. What was the answer? Well, the answer was yes, they something had happened and I said, Oh, and did it affect the budget? They said yes, it did, and I said then then, what did you do right, waiting for the correct response. Unfortunately, they said, well, I went ahead and did my sales presentation. I said, Oh, yes, we've got a retrain on that. All right, they were close, they were close, almost there. We'll give them credit for the effort. Yeah, I love it. So, Eric, let's talk a little bit. You know, we are here at the Ingram micro one event and the last of the three days here. Could you speak a little bit to the benefit you've seen from your partnership with Ingram Micro? Absolutely, and I've had a long, long relationship with Ingram micro spanning many, many years. I, you know, had co founded one of the first pure play MSPs in the industry and gram micro was our distributor then and that's been acquired many, many years ago now. I work with Ingram micro to deliver really great content at their events. Kind of, you know, advised them on on what the channel partners are really looking for and they bring me in to speak and do webinars for them. And I think their strategic vision for, you know, helping their partners grow and then and then creating an ecosystem for vendors to come in and partner with Ingram Micron deliver their products and services and giving their partners choice and support through marketing and sales, enabling things like that. We really can't do it by ourselves, as I providers right, so we need resources like Ingram micro provides us in order to succeed and compete with other organizations that may be larger than us and, you know, have more staff and things like that. So it really gives everybody a level playing field to succeed. Yeah, absolutely. I mean just the event here, as you mentioned, you know, great content, as well as, you know, taking that content, like we're doing here, and making it readily available outside of the event. If folks weren't able to come and they can tune in. So I can just echo that in what I'm seeing as well. So we love to ask this final question to all guests on bb tech talk, and that is where do you see technology going over the next year, Eric, and if you want to put not that you probably much ever take off that sales hat, but sales within technology, if you want to speak to it that way, or just technology in general. I love asking this question. I think that the single biggest opportunity that that I see in the next twelve months, and I'm talking of the primary opportunity, not you know, there's a lot of opportunity. We can talk about emerging technologies things like that, but I think it's cyber security and the last twelve or eighteen months that's really what my partners have been asking me to focus on, is helping them create a cyber security unit within their organizations or how to sell cyber security without really being that cyber security expert. There's a huge opportunity. There's a tremendous amount of risk out there. I mean this is something that we've never seen before in history and some of the challenges. So I will put on the sales had for a second here. Some of the challenges that my partners come to me with is kind of how do I overcome these types of objections? So they've had a client for many years and they come and say, okay, we've got to get you signed on to our new cyber security program because the threats are real and there's risk, and there's a risk on both sides of the table, for the client as well as the MSP. And then the client says something like well, Eric, I thought you were supposed...

...to be hawling. All that all this time, all that, all that right, all this time, and the guidance here is just to simply say, well, you know what, that that was true, you know, three or four years ago, but the cyber criminals and the tactics and the technologies that they're using today, there's no way that what got us here from a risk management perspective can take us where we need to go. And there is tremendous amount of risk in one of the biggest attack vectors are the end users themselves. As you know, once we protect the par eimeter and we secure everything, we harden everything, it's the users that need that and user security and arness training so that they're not clicking on those fishing attempts that actually become the injection point for you know, ransomwhere and all these things. It's some of the biggest cybersecurity breaches we've seen have been because of humans themselves, right. So that's one argument that these partners are seeing as well. How do I overcome that objection? So just let them know that you know the risk is real and you know the risk to the MSP as well. So I always say luck in every one of your bundles of cyber security services. Make sure there's some cyberliability insurance in there as well, because you know it's not going to get any better anytime soon. It's just going to keep getting worse and worse. So I think cyber security is is really where there's a huge opportunity to help these business owners and to bring our maturity level as service providers around the critical services that yield really important business outcomes to these clients. You know can come from and, as I mentioned during my talk yesterday, we need to position our services from the business outcome perspective, not the technology outcome, and I think that's another key kind of takeaway as we position ourselves for growth in two thousand and twenty is make sure that we're aligning our strategies to meet the business objectives of our clients. Absolutely. I mean I think of the analogy as you talk about training and employee awareness. You can have a great security system, huge deadbolt on the door, but if someone locks up and fails to, you know, lock the back door, none of that is worth a hill of beans right, for sure, and that's an opportunity to add that value, to talk about that risk and talk about those training services that you can offer. So, you know, I ad one one additional thought here. So the other objection that my partners are sharing with me, that they're getting from existing clients as well as new prospects, is this one. Well, who wants my data? I'm just a small business owner who wants my data, and I say, well, the correct response to that is you know what you want, your data, don't you write? The cyber criminals may not want your data, but what they do want is your bitcoin ransom. So they're taking the shotgun approach than trying to encrypt as many and, you know, as much data as possible to force you to pay an incredibly, you know, dumb ransom just in the hopes that you'll be able to unencrypt your data after you pay it. So it's not about who want your day. They don't. They don't mean not want your data. You may not be Sony Pictures, right, but they do want your bitcoin ransom. Right, right. They want your money and if your data is the way to it, and then's it, then that's what it's going to be. So, Eric, I've really enjoyed this conversation. I love talking technology and sales and we got to do both of those today. So if folks listening to this would like to reach out to you or go deeper on this topic of generating better proposals, how can they reach out? What resources would you point them to? I put them to my website Logan. It's Eric Simpsoncom, Uric K Simpsoncom. I love it, all right. Well, thank you so much for being a guest in the show today. Are Appreciate it, my pleasure. Thanks for having me. All right, that wraps up another episode of Beb Tech Talk. If you'd like to...

...join the discussion on twitter, you can follow us at Ingram Texul and you can also use the Hashtag on twitter be tob tech talk. Thank you, as always, for tuning in. If you haven't already subscribed to be to be tech talk with Ingram Micro, make sure you do so in Apple podcasts or wherever you do. You're listening. You've been listening to bedb tech talk with Ingram micro. This special edition one episode is sponsored by Cisco. Be Tob tech talk is a joint production by sweet fish media and Ingram micro. Ingram micro production handled by Laura Burton and Christine Fan. To not miss an episode, subscribe today in your favorite podcast player.

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