Part Two in a two-part blog miniseries discussing how to make your managed services organization a high-performing MS operation. Part Two takes a closer look into the characteristics a MS sales professional must possess in order to succeed in the B4B era. (Hint: It’s no longer the “same old sales” approach.)
Two weeks ago at TSIA's Technology Services World (TSW) Best Practices conference in Santa Clara, the discussion and analysis of the business-for-business (B4B) model―and the industry changes described in the recently published business book by industry pundits J.B. Wood, Thomas Lah, and Todd Hewlin, titled B4B: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship―were in full bloom.
Not surprisingly, the managed services (MS) business was commanding a lot of attention. Technology companies will leverage managed services as they begin their migration to an outcomes-based business model.
In Part One of this two-part blog miniseries, I discussed the 10 principles of the managed services sales process. This article continues the discussion by looking at the characteristics a sales professional must possess in order to execute the process successfully.
Managed services providers have a lot at stake. With longer sales cycles, higher cost of sales, and high-risk/reward of the opportunities, providers must not take the “same old sales” approach. Providers can realize significant ROI from deploying the proper sales model and building a sales team equipped with the right skill set.
The Characteristics of the Successful Managed Services Sales Person
Figure 1, the Solution Complexity Continuum, illustrates how 12 sales engagement criteria change along the continuum of complexity of the solution being sold. The left side of the continuum describes the environment where low-complexity solutions are sold―unit products with little or no competitive differentiation. The right side describes the environment of high-complexity solutions that may be hardware, software, services or, often, combinations of them.
Managed services certainly resides to the right side of the continuum. The engagement environment described on the complex side of the continuum provides excellent insight to the type of sales person required to sell successfully there.
Figure 1 – The Solution Complexity Continuum
The Solution Complexity Continuum was presented to a group of managed services executives at TSW Service Transformations in October 2013, where the B4B model was first introduced. The goal was to identify skills, competencies, knowledge or behaviors required to sell managed services. The team identified 50 items from which five important themes emerge:
This outcome is completely consistent with Pretium’s experience. It is a really expensive mistake to treat all sales roles the same, or essentially the same. While most people understand this point, few people understand what to do about it. Using models like the Solution Complexity Continuum will help you build competency models that provide valuable direction. Successfully identifying sales people who possess the skill potential is another matter. To do this well, there has been demonstrated success in using competency assessments and predictive analytics. More on that in future blog articles.
For More Information
This subject is an important one as we move forward in optimizing our MS processes in the B4B era. Check back to TSIA's online Managed Service Research Reports next week, where a full report around this key topic is discussed in full detail, titled “Must Have Characteristics of a Successful Managed Services Sales Person.”
About the Author…
Bill Hall is co-founder and partner at Pretium Partners. He is responsible for business development, designing client solutions, and managing client relationships. For the past 20 years, he focused on developing sales talent management solutions that improve client sales productivity. He is one of two lead instructors and has taught thousands of sales professionals in companies of all sizes around the world.
After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BS in mechanical engineering, Hall began a 30-year career in sales and marketing. His expertise was developed in technology solutions sales, worldwide services marketing, and services management. Contact Bill at BHall@pretiumpartners.com.
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