How to Accelerate MSP Sales - An Interview with an Ex-MSP Owner turned Product Manager

For any business, sales is the foundation of growth. Recurring revenue needs a process. Sometimes when you’re just starting, this is tough to lock-in. You need some help. And who better to guide than a former MSP owner.

Richard Tubb, IT coach and MSP expert, sat down with Ben Spector, a former MSP owner.  They discussed his experience transitioning from the channel to the vendor side, the importance of implementing a Sales Acceleration Platform, and some sales tips and tricks. 

In this blog post, we cover a quick summary of the podcast (read TAKEWAYS in the end of each section for an even shorter version) to give you immediate insight and value. You can also watch the entire episode on Richard’s Youtube channel.

Who is Ben Spector, and how did he land up in the MSP industry?

Dropping out of university in 2008, Ben started with consultancy. Soon after, he moved into the managed services business and ran his MSP for around 10-12 years. 

“What I enjoyed doing the most in my MSP wasn't the technical project. It certainly wasn't sales; I’m familiar with the pain of trying to sell IT services to small businesses. Actually, what I was enjoying doing was focusing on the tooling and the processes within my MSP. So my transition to joining a vendor that’s solving a real problem was quite natural.”

After leaving his MSP Business in October 2020, Ben tried his hands as an interim Technical Director at an MSP based in London, helping them realign their service delivery and building robust business processes. 

It was here that Ben was introduced to Zomentum by way of a demo. His company was looking for a quoting platform, and though Ben was adamant about using Quotewerks (he had been using it for the past 5-6 years), he attended a demo on the insistence of his CEO.

“When I got on that Zomentum demo, I was just absolutely blown away by what they were building, not just by where it is today but by the clarity of their vision and the problem they're trying to solve. And so to go from this six-year love affair with QuoteWerks in a matter of minutes to seeing something that solved the problem, I think that hit me where it hurts, and I thought, okay, this is exciting.”

He proactively reached out to Shruti Ghatge, the CEO on Linkedin, and connected over a chat. 

Fast forward two months, Ben is now the product manager of Zomentum, adding new nuggets of gold to the product roadmap to drive it forward from an MSP's perspective with his technical expertise and channel knowledge.

On why did he choose Zomentum, a reasonably new player in the market, to lend his experience instead of one of the more prominent players, Ben says,

What really excited me about Zomentum is that it's a problem that I understand, on a personal level -  the excruciating pain of trying to sell IT services to small businesses. What I saw in Zomentum was a real solution to almost the entire problem. 

Not just that, I also identified the gaps in the product and realized no one could have gone through it because there was no actual MSP who was a part of the company. That's why I could see so much opportunity to add value.”

TAKEAWAY: After running an MSP for around 10-12 years, Ben worked as a technical director for an MSP based in London. He was introduced to Zomentum by the way of a demo (reluctantly though, having had a six-year-long love affair with Quotewerks, Autotask, and Hubspot). His first demo of Zomentum (as a prospective customer) was genuinely mind-blowing, and he dropped everything to get involved to help ease pain of selling IT services to small businesses!

What is Zomentum, and why do MSPs need it?

Zomentum is a Sales Acceleration Platform that is designed specifically for the IT channel. Often people misrepresent it as a quoting platform, but Zomentum is much more than that.

We really are the only people doing Sales Acceleration. There are multiple quoting platforms in the market, but we are the only platform out there that helps you get from prospect to opportunity and then through a signed contract. With Zomentum, we have seen our clients bring their sales cycles down from eight days to two days with and an almost 600% increase in opportunity close value.” 

I just sent a customer quote for one laptop for $1,000, and my proposal went from $1,000 to over $6,200 because the automation platform allowed my client to change the quantity of the items ordered and also upsell items [monitors, docking stations, and wireless combos] to the quote on their own.
- Steve Dempsey, Principal - Neotech Networks and Zomentum Partner.

The MSP’s Sales Process starts with a marketing automation platform - where you get a subscriber, which converts into a lead and then to a marketing-qualified lead. Once you’ve identified their needs and you know you’ve got a solid opportunity, is when you will categorize them as a sales-qualified lead. 

Most MSPs also have a PSA or Professional Services Automation tool and accounting software that work competently at picking up after the sale. So planning, managing, onboarding, support, billing, invoicing, and accounting. 

However, there's this enormous gap between identifying the opportunity and getting a contract signed.

Zomentum elegantly fits into this space and converts opportunities generated to actual revenue. 

3 steps of MSP Sales Process

With Zomentum’s Sales Acceleration Platform made for IT Channel, MSPs can: 

  • Assess and determine the right course of action and present options for current clients as their business needs. Use assessments to perform routine risk analysis and identifying gaps before they become a problem for your clients. 
  • Design professional-looking quotes and proposals with customizable templates. Check availability of IT products, compare prices, enter categories, descriptions, and other data automatically. Provide multiple pricing options to prospects, set product bundles, and upsell within a quote by allowing clients to manipulate quantities. Digitally sign documents and schedule and collect automatic recurring/one-time payments.
  • Convert opportunities into revenue as you can visualize opportunities moving from one stage to another with automated activities and tasks. You can also set multiple pipelines to cover alternate sales funnels like upselling and cross-selling.
  • Automate your pipeline by logging all conversations and activities that a client has with your business. Set automatic alerts when your client opens an email, comments on a quote, or e-signs a proposal.
  • Analyze pipeline health with intuitive reports and learn which sales patterns are most successful for your team. Then, see how to maximize each rep's productivity. 
  • Expand your revenue streams with automatic templates for designing detailed but easy-to-understand Quarterly Business Reviews.

On when should the MSP community get Zomentum, Ben suggests,

“As an MSP, just starting out start with accounting and a PSA software first. Once you’ve started managing and billing clients on a PSA, then you should immediately start accelerating your sales. Once you’ve nailed closing, then you can move to lead generating mode. With a platform like Zomentum, you can manage a good 50 - 100 opportunities without bringing a marketing automation platform onboard.” 

Seamless integrations between these various platforms are also necessary and can make or break your sales process.

If you don't have a seamless flow from that subscriber, lead, the first contact on your website through to sending out the invoice, things are going to fall apart along the way.”

This is why Zomentum also supports multiple integrations with leading distributors, PSAs, product catalogs, and payment gateways to help MSPs take control of their entire IT ecosystem. 

My dream stack is Hubspot/InfusionSoft(Marketing Automation) into Zomentum (Sales Acceleration) into AutoTask (PSA) into QuickBooks (Accounting Software) and we have all of them tightly-knit with Zomentum.

TAKEAWAY: Zomentum sits between a marketing automation platfrom and a Professional service automation tool. It's much more than just a quoting tool, really a Sales Acceleration Platform that gets prospects generated by your marketing platform and converts them into WON opportunities. Zomentum also supports multiple integrations with leading distributors, PSAs, product catalogs, and payment gateways to help MSPs take control of their entire IT ecosystem.

Bridging the gap between MSP and Vendors

Ben’s purpose in Zomentum right now is to bridge the gap between the MSP community and Zomentum. 

A lot of my time currently at the moment is being spent just talking to the MSPs.I’m always on Facebook communities, TechTribe community seeking people who are confused or lost with Zomentum. I'm pretty happy to jump in, set up a call with them, understand why they are lost, and if there's something that we can really do to fix that. 

"I think really I see myself as more of an evangelist for the MSP community within Zomentum. I quite wholeheartedly believe that my role at the moment is to push the MSP's agenda within Zomentum and make the platform as brilliant as we possibly can to solve that enormous sales problem for MSPs.”

Ben also talks about the two-way relationship between the vendor and MSP community. Often, MSPs are unaware of the genuine concern and support that vendors want to provide to their clients, considering them only as ‘software providers’. 

What I’m seeing from the Zomentum side of the fence now is that vendors genuinely have conversations internally about customers and how they can make customers’ lives better. If we know, a customer has reached out to our support team with a particular issue, and even if we can solve it then and there, it haunts us until it is actually resolved. We log all suggestions and comments by our MSP clients and prospects on our platform product board which we use to charter our roadmap

"To people who are still on the MSP side of the channel, your vendors probably do love you more than you realize. What I'm trying to do at Zomentum is make sure that we outwardly project how much we care about the customers.” 

TAKEAWAY: Ben’s purpose in Zomentum right now is to bridge the gap between the MSP community and Zomentum. He calls himself a community and technology evangelist than a product manager. His role at the moment is to push the MSP's agenda within Zomentum and make the platform as brilliant as possible to solve the enormous sales problem for MSPs.

Ben’s experience with managed service sales? His advice, secrets, tips 

As someone who has seen both sides of the virtual fence (the managed service provider and the vendor), Ben has had his fair share of experiences, challenges, and achievements. 

Successful sales, according to Ben, is all about selling value or benefits rather than selling tools or features

And this applies to essentially anything anyone sells. Recalling an anecdote, he says, “I was looking for curtains one day and booked two suppliers. Both had different ways of selling. 

Supplier A talked about whether I would prefer a curtain lined or interlined or a blackout lining or if I wanted the white or ivory lining.

Supplier B, on the other hand, came in and said this is the color that would blend with your walls, would look great open or closed, keep the light out, make the room cozier, and this is how much it costs.

Totally different industries but map that experience on to selling IT sales. 

Most MSPs are often techies, and their nature as techies is to get passionate talking about features. But your customer doesn’t care about the name of the software or its features. They want to know its value if it's going to work for them, and how much it costs.

Commit time and resources to chalk out your sales process

For those starting, dedicate all of your spare time in building a specific and repeatable sales process. 

It's such a hyper-competitive market you need to differentiate yourself, but you also need to dedicate time to it. Nail your technical processes, your standard operating procedures. Make sure that your team knows what they're doing. 

Ask yourself every day - Am I creating a job, or Am I building a business? If you’re just creating a job, shift focus. The more time you free up by trusting your team to do what they do best and hire the right people to work for your business, the more time you can spend driving sales.”

Read Next: Ten Tips to Speed Up and Streamline Your MSP’s Sales Closing Process

Automation is vital for the Sales Process

Ben also talks about the importance of sales process flow and how sales automation brings efficiency

“At the end, you want to solve problems for your clients, and that means not using your time to do tedious tasks like updating opportunities, checking on an overdue follow-up, or sending emails.”

“Some basic automation that has an enormous amount of value is scheduling follow-up calls a couple of days after sending out a quote. 

Generally, from my experience, either proposed quotes and proposals are signed off within five minutes, or they get signed off two weeks later. In many MSPs, if they don't get approval in the first five minutes, they give up. They need encouragement to keep going ahead with the opportunity.

If you can quickly put in place the automation that's going to schedule a follow-up call two days, four days, seven days after a proposal was sent, you can make managing your sales pipeline less laborious.

Read Next: 5 Sales Automation Recipes That You Must Use In Your Sales Flow

TAKEAWAY: Being on both sides of the IT ecosystem (channel and vendor), successful sales, according to Ben, is all about selling value or benefits rather than selling tools or features. For MSPs starting, he recommends dedicating all of your spare time to building a specific and repeatable sales process. Ben also talks about the importance of sales process flow and how sales automation brings efficiency. He advises all MSPs to implement some form of automation from Day 1.

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You can reach out to Ben to discuss anything related to the MSP industry. Drop him a line at ben@zomentum.com or contact him on Linkedin

Interested in trying Zomentum? You can book a free demo to take a tour of the Zomentum platform and discover use cases to address your unique sales needs.