Achieving sales success is a constant challenge. To help navigate the sales landscape, we turn to an industry veteran who has not only weathered the storms but has thrived amidst them. Donna Renee, a multifaceted professional with a background in sales, marketing, and even voice acting, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table. In this exclusive interview, Donna shares her insights, strategies, and expert advice tailored specifically for MSPs. Whether you're a seasoned MSP or considering entering the industry, this conversation promises to shed light on the unique challenges, opportunities, and tactics that can help you excel in the world of managed services. Join us as we dive into Donna's expert insights to uncover the keys to sales success in the MSP domain.
About Donna Renee
Mom. Nana. Friend. Minister. Sales. Voice Actor. I just started my 6th decade here, I’ve learned a thing or two in that time. What not to do and thankfully, what to do. Hopefully I can impart some wisdom in times of need for all in my sphere.
If you're in the MSP business or looking to start, this interview will provide you with valuable insights and tips tailored to the MSP industry from an industry veteran. Let's dive into the interview questions and learn the sales strategies, industry expert Donna Renee, recommends for selling your MSP services…
1. Can you briefly describe your background in sales within the MSP industry and share what motivated you to pursue a career in this specific field?
I got my start in the world of msp’s in a very unique way. More than 20 years ago I set out to take the world by storm as a voice actor. Had 3 agents, a decent book of clients and went full time more than a decade ago. But I was a small fish in a big pond. So I decided to specialize (create a vertical before I even knew what that was) in the telecom world. That led me to becoming partners with a few different providers of white label voip services and I began to learn my way around their entire product set, as most of my clients were MSPs. I wrote scripts for on hold messages, auto attendants and IVRs and learned so much! Every conversation brought me more understanding of the world of an MSP and what they faced every day in doing business.
It is worthy to note that prior to going full time as a voice actor, I had been in Corporate America doing sales … so that world was very familiar to me. In my role as a voice actor, I was concerned with brand image and brand consistency. It was brand, brand, brand, at every customer contact point! Thus, I have a natural understanding of the marriage of sales and marketing!
After having met the leadership team at GreenStar Marketing, it became apparent to all of us that this relationship had benefits all the way around, so I joined forces with them and here I am today! We did the business the same way, honesty, integrity and ethics are always the most important. I knew sales, the importance of marketing and the MSP marketplace. It just seemed a natural fit. We are all here, ready to assist MSPs grow their bottom line with digital marketing!
2. What do you believe are the unique challenges and opportunities faced by MSPs when it comes to sales, and how should they be approached?
Knowing their own secret sauce. What makes them unique? If I had a dollar for every MSP that says they have a white glove service (LOL). MSPs need to branch out and dial it in … how are you truly different? How can your company be different as an organization that will make an impact for all of your clients?
It can even be something small and unrelated! As an example, I used to work for a video producer that would bake homemade chocolate chip cookies and take them to every appointment. His clients loved him and paid hefty $$$ for the videos he produced.
Another client I have hand delivers his invoices every single month. Obviously this won’t scale. However, if you are just getting started, what a nice touch! By doing this, he maintains relationships and gets paid timely. Great idea!!!
New idea for the taking: If you have the right app or CRM, tell your client that you offer a free relationship maintenance service. They can email you all the birthdays, anniversaries, etc of their clients, you’ll put them in your CRM and email them a reminder a week or two ahead. That will make you different and won’t cost anything past set up! And remember, small steps can lead you to bigger and better ideas!
If you do what everyone else does, find a way to tweek it just a bit to create a way that you differ in it. Don’t just tout the difference … figure out what problem it solves for them. Then sing that solution from the mountaintops!
3. Building and maintaining strong client relationships is crucial for MSPs. What strategies or tactics have you found most effective for fostering long-term partnerships with clients?
Care about them, for real. Ask questions. Look at the pictures they have up in their office. Find out who they are. Find out birthdays and anniversaries. Make calendar reminders and send a card, small plant or cookies … just something to let them know you are thinking about them. Or better yet, drop them off in person. It just takes a little bit of effort. We can’t be too busy to maintain relationships. I speak to myself here, too!
Ask them what organizations they belong to. Don’t join every group but if one resonates with you, join it. See them outside of work as well. That forms long lasting bonds that storms can not sever. By doing this, you might even find a vertical that you want to focus on!
If you notice they are not acting as normal, take a second and ask why. See if they want to talk about it. We all have heavy schedules, burdens, challenges, etc. And we can help each other carry them along the way or better yet, off load them.
Let’s be an active and engaged member of our communities and neighborhoods like we used to when our parents and grandparents were alive. It will make us all better people and help build those client relationships genuinely.
4. MSPs often offer a range of services. How do you tailor your sales approach to match the specific needs and pain points of each client or prospect?
Know the pain points that each product alleviates and how it benefits your customer. Back in the day we used to call this FAB - know the Feature, the Advantage and the Benefit. The Benefit is how it solves their pain.
And a good opening line could always be something like: “As an _______ (insert their industry) specialist, you solve people's problems with ________ (insert appropriate description). We know of your reputation! People love you! But I’m wondering, who solves your problems? Who can you call when you need help? What keeps you up at night? That’s what we tackle.” Something like that.
5. Sales and marketing often go hand in hand. What marketing strategies have you found to be most effective in generating leads and building brand awareness for your MSP?
Every company needs the efforts of hunters (sales people) and gatherers (marketing). Cold calls will never go away or at least they shouldn’t. I’m in the position I’m in today because of a cold call I made in 2014. It changed the trajectory of my business life.
Marketing people are wired differently than sales people. You need both on your team. Both of their jobs are hard. Reward both sides of the team for every deal brought in. But don’t pit them against each other. They need each other for the whole business to succeed!
Vetting of new vendors is done online now, via websites and social media. If an MSP has a lackluster website or zip-zilch-nada social media presence, they have lost the deal before it ever got off the ground. This is what marketing does. It gives validation to digital vetting.
Everybody vets digitally now. Your sales people dialing for dollars or walking for dollars in business parks … they need your FRESH digital presence to validate that they are legit! So it doesn’t matter if a potential client finds you from social media, online or from an in-person cold call … they will vet online. You gotta have the goods to make it to the next level of the deal.
Leads that come in from marketing efforts should be farmed to sales people. When marketing does sales from a warm lead, they want to educate, but you can’t educate before the deal is closed. Education can easily lead to “I want to think it over” and that kills deals. So if you want to make money from your marketing spend, give all the leads to your hunters. They know how to close business ... then all the education in the world can keep them a loyal customer for life.
6. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends and developments in the MSP field, and how does this knowledge impact your sales approach?
Subscribe to different publications and make time to read something everyday. Or at least once a week. But be fair to yourself. There is so much out there. You could literally spend all day, everyday reading - so pick and choose wisely. Find an interest and hone in on that. I have found that if we know A LOT about a few things, it makes us more valuable than someone who knows A LITTLE about a lot. Jack of all trades, but master of none. Let’s not be that guy (LOL).
Do business with GreenStar Marketing. Seriously! Let me explain. Here’s our secret sauce. Dave George, Our CEO, 4th Generation Telecom guy, a former SVP and GM of NetSapiens, knows nearly everything in the MSP landscape. And he loves to talk with people! We’ve told him he should charge for his time, but he’s willing to have a conversation with anyone and share his knowledge. Of course he’s available for hire as a consultant through another of his companies, but if you are a client of GreenStar Marketing, you can get him for wayyyyyy, wayyyyyyyy less.
f you want, hit me up and I’ll get you Dave George’s read list. That will keep you cutting edge for sure. 🙂email@example.com
These tailored questions provide MSPs with valuable insights and strategies to excel in their sales efforts within the managed services industry. By incorporating these expert tips and adapting to the changing landscape, MSPs can continue to thrive and meet the evolving needs of their clients.