By: GreatAmerica on March 25th, 2021
Industry Experts Offer Insights for 2021: Part II
The first quarter of 2021 is closing in on us. What better time to pause, check in, and evaluate the success of your strategy thus far? Last month we consulted with six industry experts on what technology providers should do to pivot and surge ahead amidst the uncertain aftermath of the global health and financial crisis. We are back with part two, a new panel of experts, and a new perspective on the question: What should solution providers be doing to overcome the obstacles 2020 thrust in our paths? Here, they discuss the top areas you should focus efforts to grow sales and protect margins.
What should solution providers be doing to overcome the obstacles 2020 thrust in our paths?
Edward McLaughlin – Co-Founder, Predictive InSight LLC
First, get your back office in order. The requirements for cost structure are going to be very different going forward. Make sure you’re not staffing to make up for support and automation short falls. Fix them or change your support sources.
Second, get closer to your accounts. Understand why they use your services and work with them to try to solve new and emerging problems for them (They are under stress too). Become indispensable.
Finally, get adjusted to managing the remote (WFH) environment. This is going to rely on more leadership than management.
Bob Goldberg – General Counsel, Business Technology Association
My recommendation is to fully explore cybersecurity with end users. Data breaches and ransomware have been recurring issues brought to my attention. Since end users do not wish to publicize these instances, the prevalence is not well communicated. Establish a relationship with an insurance agent to present coverage policies for end users. Seek cyber insurance for yourself. Experience reveals one million dollars in coverage is insufficient.
Alex Rogers – CEO, CharTec
Follow-Up, Follow-Up. The key to getting a sale is getting the first appointment. Now, the secret to getting a first appointment isn’t really all that secret. You have to follow-up. The vast majority of salespeople don’t bother to pick up the phone when they’re given a qualified prospect (in our world that means they’ve hit a lead score based on email interactions and website clicks). We recommend at least a three-by-three matrix – three phone calls + three voicemails/email follow-ups. You don’t call one time and give up. You don’t sit on it for 20 days before you pick up the phone. You get a lead alert, you take action within 24 hours, and then repeat that action at least three more times over the next ten days.
Use the Right Scripts. Here’s an example of the worst script you could use to get a first appointment:
“We know that you’ve been reading our materials, so we just wanted to follow-up to see if you needed anything.”
First, it’s creepy. Second, even though you should know what they’re interested in based on marketing analytics, you shouldn’t use this out of the gate. If you notice they’ve been reading all your cybersecurity materials, the call begins something like this:
“With all the current news about cyber-attacks and security leaks, the last thing business owners need is to feel like a target. Our clients have mitigated this risk by taking advantage of the latest technology tools available…”
Effective scripts will be your quickest ticket to turning someone who is minimally interested into a first appointment.
Complete every portion of the sales process. Managed Services sales is a process. After you get that first appointment, you have a few more steps you need to nail before you share your solution and close the deal. You can’t skip steps or go out of order. We have clearly defined every part of the sales process after practicing it for the past 25+ years, and we share it during Sales Simplicity Seminars with GreatAmerica. Join us at our next one.
Wes McArtor – President, NEXERA,
Squeeze as much margin from your core deliverable as possible. Our exclusive data shows that most office technology dealers are leaving significant amounts of money on the table in print. If dealers expect to be profitable in Managed IT, they need to understand that they need to be much more disciplined than they are currently. So, while you work on your diversification strategy, get disciplined on how you deliver print. That extra profit will help you while you work through the learning curve of your new offerings and prepare you for a healthier business as the shift continues.
Get focused on profit and not just revenue. Too many companies seem to focus on top line revenue and not enough on bottom line profit. As a product centric channel, quotas, rebates, and promotions drive behavior. That’s not the case as much in Managed IT. Now is the time to look at right sizing print, focus on customer's needs, and ensure that you are managing costs and maximizing profits from each account. Incentive programs will need adjustments to ensure sales behavior aligns with these changes.
Print volumes are in decline. If you are not actively looking into Device-as-a-Service pricing models, you should be. Subscription models are the norm and customers are growing weary of the complex process we currently use to bill. This transition will be critical as you support more and more A4 devices and the tethered worker. The program also blends seamlessly with other services you will be selling as a service.
Marcus Sheridan – Author, They Ask You Answer and President at Marcus Sheridan International
- Lean heavily into virtual selling, especially meeting with prospects over Zoom instead of face to face. This limits travel expenditures for reps while increasing time to close due to better logistics.
- Make 2021 your year of sales training. So much has evolved with digital selling over the last few years that many have not kept up. Others are simply frustrated and afraid. Any amount of money you spend on training (for things like 1-1 sales videos, using a CRM, social selling initiatives, etc.) will come back 10X *if* the training is done the right way.
Gary Lavin – Partner, CEO Juice
Focus on customer satisfaction. There is a reason companies like Tesla do not need a sales team or advertising budget.
Most salespeople will tell prospects they have the “best service, best products, and competitive prices” and when customers move to your competitor, they also say “best service, best products, and competitive prices.” What your prospect hears is “same service, same products, and let's focus on price.” Showing that you have a system for measuring customer satisfaction and how your satisfaction numbers compare to some well-loved brands will allow you to not always be selling on price.
Chelsey Bode – President, Pearson-Kelly Technology
- Work on building your brand. Create an experience people want to be part of. The goal is to get noticed. You want to be the organization that comes to mind when a “trigger event” occurs and puts that potential prospect in the need phase.
- Stop selling. Our top producing reps with the highest margins have no sales background. They know how to ask the right questions and listen. It is not about selling; it is about understanding the client. It is about the long game. The revenue and margin will work itself out.
Darrell Amy – President, Convergo
- Focus on Cross-Selling. For decades, the office technology industry has delivered outstanding support to customers. Yet, we have done a weak job at cross-selling additional products, services, and solutions to the base. 2021 is a time to get sales and marketing aligned around processes to cross-sell to the base to maximize revenue per client.
- Map Your Customer Experience. Service is great, but it is reactionary. What could it look like if you became proactive in how you removed friction at every stage of the buying experience and customer experience? Great experiences increase close rates, facilitate cross-selling, and improve client retention—three things we all need right now.
- Understand What Your Buyers Are Buying. Buyers don’t buy products; they buy the outcomes your products and services create. Last year the outcomes shifted. Instead of wanting scalability and efficiency, companies turned inward during the pandemic needing resiliency, flexibility, and remote work options. As we emerge from the pandemic, these outcomes will shift again. As this happens, we need to identify these outcomes and retool our marketing and sales messages.
Challenge Your Team to Think Differently
There was plenty of pivoting done in 2020, and there is plenty more to do. Consider the advice our experts provided here today and continue to be fluid in your plans. Take any struggles that arise head on. Your business will be better for it.
GreatAmerica is the largest independent, family-owned national commercial equipment finance company in the U.S. and is dedicated to helping manufacturers, vendors, and dealers be more successful and keep their customers for a lifetime. A $2.4 Billion company, GreatAmerica was established in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1992 and has a staff of over 600 employees with offices in Iowa, Georgia, Minnesota, and Illinois. In addition to financing, GreatAmerica offers innovative non-financial services to help our customers grow. www.greatamerica.com