I’ve been in sales my entire life and have sold in a wide variety of situations: door to door, face to face, in the boardroom, one to many on a webinar, and from on stage to a group. I’ve also counseled, coached, and trained more salespeople than I can count over the last 20 years as a marketing and sales consultant to well over 10,000 VARs, MSPs, and IT services organizations. (Marketing is the first step in the sales process.)
Prior to starting my own gig, I worked with Tony Robbin’s top sales coach delivering sales training to a variety of organizations. Previous to that, I ran a large telemarketing department, albeit for a brief time, setting appointments for in-home sales reps. For the past 10 years, I’ve run a small but highly productive sales team of 12 dedicated reps (and growing), six sales support staff, and a small army of marketing and business development folks. From all of this, here’s what I know: The number of TRUE sales professionals is very, very small. Only 5% are true-blue, hardcore closers who can chew meat right off the bone and get the job done consistently. Roughly 15% are “good,” and the rest are so bad they should be more accurately labeled as “sales prevention.”
So, as an entrepreneur trying to grow, the BIG question is this: How do you recruit that top 20% (more specifically, that top 5%) who will consistently drive high-margin, right-fit sales for your organization WITHOUT a ton of babysitting and begging?
For starters, you have to be actually LOOKING. Far too many MSPs aren’t running ads for sales reps or actively recruiting. You won’t find something you’re NOT looking for. But if you ARE looking and are still unsuccessful at finding a good rep, the primary reason is most likely that you’re not making your “offer” attractive to top performers.
Look, I’m a marketer. I know all about attraction and getting the RIGHT prospect’s attention. Recruiting is not all that different.
After all, GREAT salespeople know what they’re worth. They also know they are in short supply compared to all the other dummies they’ve been forced to work alongside. That means they can pretty much work wherever they want for whoever they want and make $150–$200K or more doing it. So, the first big mistake many MSPs make in trying to attract top salespeople is offering a crappy position, then acting insulted and surprised when no one wants to take it.
Here’s what I typically see: They have no marketing to consistently generate qualified leads for the rep. They have no list of accounts and no prospects. They have ZERO marketing, ZERO opportunities, no playbook, and no sales support. They expect the sales rep to come in and sell on commission only, without a base or ramp-up bonus and with zero benefits. They have no track record to show that someone CAN earn six figures at their organization, and they give them the two-part training: Good luck and hang in there. Why would anyone want to take that position? The only ones who will are either stupid (and do you really want stupid working for you?) or desperate, which means they don’t have any other options (again, that’s not who you want).
So, if you want to attract top talent, WORK on making the position a good one and design the math so that they have a reasonable chance to make six figures. Get your marketing plan in order so there are leads and opportunities to be worked. If you don’t have a sales process, YOU need to go on sales calls and create one. (You can download my checklist of what you need to include in a good Sales Playbook at MSPSuccessMagazine.com/salesplaybook.)
Next, track your metrics and process and refine and improve it until you’re consistently closing sales and can teach your process to a new rep. You might have to offer a much higher base than you would normally while they learn and ramp up. Have a CRM and marketing plan to assist them in generating at LEAST a little awareness and some inbound leads. Pay them a hefty commission up front for bringing in monthly recurring revenue and make YOUR profit on the back end. Essentially, design a position where someone CAN reasonably earn six figures while you also generate a good profit in the long term.
And one more piece of advice if you’re SMALL: Really work on having a GREAT culture. This is a big plus when competing against bigger companies for talent. Larger organizations can offer more salary, benefits, resources, marketing, etc. However, big companies are also rife with office politics, infighting, backstabbing, and hidden agendas. If you work hard on ensuring your culture and team are passionate, driven, and happy to work together, you’ve got a BIG plus on the larger organizations in recruiting (and keeping) top talent.