Carrie Simpson is the founder and CEO of Managed Sales Pros. She has over 20 years of cold calling experience, and supports a team of 30 lead generators. Her team makes over 40,000 outbound MSP prospecting calls monthly.
The two biggest things standing between you and a new managed services opportunity are prospect complacency and incumbent providers. Most companies are “just fine, thanks” or “already working with someone.” A relationship with an incumbent provider can be difficult to unseat. Most rational people don’t make decisions based on one good sales call, and most busy people will tell you they’re just fine so that they can get on with their day uninterrupted. If you always give up the first time someone says no to you, you’re not going to win many new clients. Long sales cycles create lulls in your sales rhythm that you – and your sales team will find frustrating. So what’s the solution? Wedge selling.
Wedge selling is a sales process used to position you for future success. A wedge is used for two purposes:
It holds the door open so it doesn’t close behind you.
It pries the door open a small amount so you can then apply leverage to open it fully.
You want the managed deal, and you should try to win that first. You don’t want to approach a prospect to sell a $30/month app when you could sell them a $3,000/month managed services deal. Wedge selling should not be your default setting. The wedge comes in after they have said “No” to the managed opportunity. That “No” may be the initial reaction or the final result of the entire managed services sales cycle. Here are some of the benefits of wedge selling:
Opportunities to Talk to Prospect: Wedge selling requires a wide range of solutions to offer prospects that give them something to buy that is over and above the services your competitors are offering. They create reasons to continually approach prospects that “already have that” or “are happy with their current provider”. Without wedge selling, your follow-up calls different versions of “Hi, I’m still here, have you changed your mind yet?”
Connect with Multiple Decision Makers and Influencers: Wedge selling allows you to approach different influencers and champions within an account. If you’re not able to win the managed contract immediately or win an audience with the appropriate decision maker, what can you sell this company to get your foot in the door? While the idea of selling lower cost apps or solutions may not seem appealing, imagine how much easier it is to gain face time within an organization that you’re already supporting.
Recruit and Retain Talent That May Find a Longer Sales Cycles Frustrating: If you’ve been following along with us for the last few months, you’ll already understand my thoughts around the displacement sales process. Basically, most of the clients you want to do business with are already doing business with someone else, and most reasonable people don’t continually change service providers at the drop of a hat. You win business when your competitor drops the ball and you’re the first call afterward. You win managed services business that you or your sales team deliberately and methodically pursue. And, when you’re lucky, once in awhile you uncover an opportunity where the decision maker is at the exact right time in their buying cycle. The displacement sales cycle requires a very specific sales personality. If you want to attract and retain great sales talent that prefers faster and more regular wins, adding wedge selling will allow you to do this. While the commissions may not be as high, they will hit more, more often. This rewards the sales personality that requires that regular “win.”
Recurring Revenue: You’re calling this company regularly anyhow. You’re going to maintain contact with them as you earn your way into their business. While selling a smaller solution may not be as immediately rewarding, smaller deals add up to more recurring revenue. You’ve done most of the work, don’t walk away empty-handed – sell someone something.
Access to Other Decision Makers within the Company: Wedge selling allows you to approach multiple times and ways. If you’re not able to gain access in one way, try another. You’ll slowly learn more about the prospective company, and once you’ve developed a relationship with a key influencer, being championed in for the managed deal becomes much more likely.
So, How Do You Start Wedge Selling?
When the prospect says no, they’re not looking for a new MSP, instead of giving up, ask them what WOULD be helpful to them at this time? What problems are they trying to solve? Then, go find them an IT solution. Referrals are also appropriate, but to begin wedge selling you need to be able to suggest solutions that you can implement for them. Struggling with an HR problem? How can technology improve it? Marketing challenges? What solutions can you recommend?
Learning more from clients and prospects about what solutions they are currently evaluating will help you begin to build a great assortment of solutions to use in your wedge approach. Have questions or ideas? I’d love to hear from you – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk sales process!
Read Carrie's previous blogs, How MSPs Can Successfully Handle Outbound Prospecting, How MSPs Can Measure Sales Success, and How MSPs Can Generate Outstanding Customer Referrals.