In the context of my blog post, the acronym MSP stands for managed service provider: a type of IT service company providing server, network, and specialized applications to end users and organizations.
As you read this post, however, you will find that the scenarios I describe apply to any business model utilizing sales engineers as part of their business development equation.
Scenario 1: You apply MSP sales engineers on an as-needed basis. You take the sales engineer off the shelf and pull them into the client meeting to be the demo-jock. Post demo, your sales folks rush to put the sales engineers back on the shelf. In this scenario, MSP sales engineers are liabilities, instead of integral resources, to the sales process.
Scenario 2: You apply MSP sales engineers continuously from the start of the business development process. Your sales engineers are an integral part of the cross-channel partner team. They assist in developing the business, designing the outcome, proposing the strategy, closing the sale and continuing support post-sale. This scenario credits MSP sales engineers as assets for value and brand-building and customer retention.
Do you work in a corporate culture which marginalizes their MSP sales engineering resources? Your infrastructure is organized in departmental and discipline-driven silos. As a result, your MSP sales engineers have limited vision of the full scope of your strategy, goals and objectives with specific client groups.
You shortchange yourself and your customers over the long haul.
Consider the following:
- Your hiring practices focus on acquiring sales engineers who are more engineering-oriented than sales-oriented. This practices perpetuates your status quo. The sales folks perceive that the MSP sales engineers bring risk into the sales equation. As a result, the sales engineers continue to be marginalized.
To Do: What happens to the quality of your business outcomes when MSP sales engineers become part of the continuous conversation? Learn to translate technical lingo into business terms easily understood by the rest of the stakeholders around the table.
- Your MSP sales engineers equate their ability to demo all the features and benefits of products and platforms with how profitable business outcomes are achieved. Your corporate culture has fostered the belief that the demo will close the sale. However, your SE’s technical enthusiasm brings up more questions than closure.
To Do: What happens to the quality of your business outcomes when your sales team moves away from demo-mindset into a more cross-functional and collaborative one? Sales folks become more comfortable using the left side of their sales brains. Sales engineers learn to focus their right brain more strategically and qualitatively.
- Your MSP sales engineers are non-competitively compensated. Not only are they marginalized within your corporate culture, they are devalued. No wonder they jump ship. There is constant turnover and inconsistent service quality delivery due to flux in seniority and experience.
To Do: What happens when you develop more enlightened compensation strategies as your business development initiative becomes more cross-functional? After all, your competitors have already developed this strategy.
Which Minimum Viable To-Do Solution will your MSP team chose to address first?
Your goal? Produce exceptional long-term business outcomes for both your MSP organization and your customers.
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own.
Babette N. Ten Haken is a management consultant and business coach. Babette develops business, technical and engineering professionals of worth. She remodels startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies experiencing difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams. Her book on cross-functional collaboration strategies and including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.