Guess What – There Is Another Way
For over a year, my sales department tried to convince our client to upgrade their Windows Exchange Server 2008 R2. With concern in our voice and a list of consequences in hand, we held meeting after meeting, asking our client to upgrade their server, to no avail.
An unfazed “We are fine” was the consistent response by our client.
Feeling deep concern for both our client’s data and maintaining our reputation, I talked to our team about taking a different approach. With a bit of trepidation and desperation, they sat quietly and heard me out.
Your Engineers Are The Best Resource To Plant SEEDs
All too often, we put our technical teams into the silo of strictly service. We view them – and they view themselves – as merely “ticket closers.”
“What if,” I urged my sales team, “you made a paradigm shift and viewed our technicians as trusted advisors?”
My sales team shifted to a more attentive position, tilted their heads slightly to the side and expressed their interest in hearing more.
When an engineer has cultivated a wonderful rapport and trusting relationship with your client, they are in the perfect position to “plant a SEED” and make much-needed technical recommendations to your clients. Too often, when a client sees their sales rep walking in the door, they think, “What are you trying to sell me?” However, your engineers are their day-to-day heroes and can take a non-salesy approach with clients.
Use The SEED Method In Your MSP
The SEED Method is a process I created to introduce opportunities to make recommendations to our clients. In no way is our engineer expected to be a “sale closer.” The entire point is to plant the seed in the client’s head that there is an issue. The idea is that this suggestion will open the door for the sales rep to book a meeting and work on closing the opportunity.
SEED Stands For…
S – See the Opportunity: Have discussions about upgrades needed or security holes in their network. The key is to talk to your engineers about being on the lookout for issues or opportunities while they are on-site working on their network.
E – Engage the Client in Discussion: Teach the engineer “how” to approach the client with a recommendation. In the case of my MSP, I knew that my engineer would need a conversation starter and a bit of practice.
I suggested he say: “I noticed (or I’m concerned) your Exchange server is approaching end-of-life. That means it will no longer be supported by Microsoft. This could leave your network open to a cyber-attack. Can I have Joe (the sales rep) give you a call to discuss?”
If you get a positive response from your client, like my engineer did, then immediately go to the next step, E – Engage Sales.
E – Engage Sales in the Discussion: It’s one thing to make the recommendation, but it’s critical to ensure your sales rep then follows up with the client while it is still fresh in their mind.
Once the hand-off is made, the engineer should be considered done with their responsibility of closing the sale. Remember, they are there to help instigate the discussion, to make the client aware that there is an imminent issue and plant the seed that they need to act.
My sales rep immediately booked a meeting and was able to finally close an over-$20,000 server project he had been trying to move the needle on for more than a year!
D – Deploy the Project: This is the satisfying reward! If the seed that was planted turns into a closed deal, how nice that the engineer gets to work on the project. My engineer had the honor of upgrading my client’s server.
There are two points to note:
- The engineer needs to be polished and prepared to make the recommendations. They need to appear professional, treat the client with respect and use empathy in their voices. If you don’t have an engineer who fits this bill, then it’s time to spend time polishing them.
- Not every recommendation will bloom. That’s okay. This method is meant to initiate discussions and, in some cases, help move the sales process along.
Do you have shovel in hand, ready to till the soil? Our engineers have amazing power over the ongoing relationship with our clients. So, when it feels like you have hit a rock in the ground with your client, engage your engineer to help dig in and plant a seed.
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