I talk a lot to my IT Solution Provider and MSP clients about the need to have a strong sales process and stop writing sales proposals that are, quite simply, a waste of time and effort due to the fact the prospect has no intention of working with you – they’re just trawling for prices and possibly free Consultancy.
Hotmail and Googlemail
So it was with interest that I spoke to the owner of a medium sized MSP recently who said that their policy was to out of hand dismissed any request for information they had from prospects with a “free” e-mail address – Googlemail, Hotmail, Yahoomail, etc. These e-mails – typically with requests for license pricing information – often didn’t include a business name nor telephone number to respond to.
I can understand the MSP’s thinking here. If a prospect doesn’t have a legitimate e-mail address, nor any way of getting a telephone number to call them, it’s hard to take their enquiry seriously.
Measuring the results
But the MSP owner I spoke to went on to say that their policy had recently changed. During a quiet period in the office, the owner had received a license quotation request from a Googlemail e-mail address with no telephone number or business name, but rather than delete it – he asked a junior member of staff to respond to it.
Days later, the quote came good and the MSP ended up selling a large license deal which they made an excellent mark-up from.
The MSP owner shared with me that he believed the quotation request had come from a local business owner who simply wanted to shop on price. By sending an e-mail from a throwaway Google e-mail address with no telephone number or business name attached they were avoiding any sales telephone calls, avoiding being added to a mailing list, and avoiding any of what they perceived to be “hassle”. They wanted the price, end of story.
What can be measured, can be managed
This story made me think about how MSP’s approach such enquiries. In this example, the MSP was more than compensated for the time it took to respond to the e-mail. Based on the mark-up they made on the licensing deal, even if only 1 in 10 of these types of e-mails end up in a sale, it still makes responding to the other 9 quote requests worthwhile.
So why I still stand by my statement that MSP’s shouldn’t write long, complicated sales proposals without a very strong reason why, it’s worth re-visiting those elements of your sales process that can be automated or systemised and monitored and measured for effectiveness to the point where you know it’s worthwhile to undertake them.
Once you start doing this, it’s no longer a case of “quote and hope” – instead you’re effectively using your time.