Fix Your MSP Sales Pitch!
Be clear and be interesting. (Think of your offering like a movie.)
Movies are advertised in a few specific ways that you should know well. They work for Hollywood — but their usefulness is not limited to the silver screen…
Almost all movie posters have three important elements that you should take note of:
- A tagline that communicates quickly what the movie brings to the viewer.
- A compelling and coherent visual feel that supports this tagline.
- A call to action (usually with a release date).
Compare this to your company’s tagline, or the section of your MSP’s website that appears above the fold when loaded.
Then you have trailers (which are pure viral-marketing gold thanks to social media):
- They grab your attention right away, usually through something unusual, something funny, or something shocking.
- They stay true to the full feature. (Usually — and when they don’t, viewing audiences don’t respond well.)
- They have only a few minutes to get you emotionally invested in the outcome of the story…but a good trailer can make it happen. (That’s why trailer directing/editing is a huge business in and of itself!)
Think of your elevator pitch this way. Just enough info to get someone interested enough to see the full feature presentation.
And you have appearances or promo events:
- These aren’t designed to inform the viewing public — they’re designed to build excitement.
- The use of guerrilla marketing at such events can — and has — completely changed the trajectories of film releases.
Compare this to trade shows, lunch and learns, and other networking opportunities where you’re free to generate some buzz around your offering. (But if you’re like most MSPs, you’re probably just handing out flyers and trying really hard to look ‘professional’. Lol.)
Remember, these concepts aren’t exclusive to show biz.
When we start talking about fine-tuning your MSP sales pitch, most of the same concepts will come into play:
- Keeping it brief
- Explaining “what’s in it for the prospect” quickly
- Engaging through storytelling
- And setting a hook
That last part is especially important! An elevator pitch isn’t worth a whole lot if the listener loses interest the second they step through the sliding doors.
Let’s get to work on making that spotlight-worthy pitch…
1) Skip the Tech Jargon and “Fancy Talk”
You’ve no doubt already heard the “no geek speak” maxim that’s used so heavily among MSPs. You might even have it emblazoned across your company website like a badge of honor.
The truth is, effective communication shouldn’t be a brag — not if you want to make sales. No, your number one goal should be demystifying your product and making it sound awesome with as few words as possible.
So yeah… drop the boring boardroom speak. Definitely leave out the IT-specific terminology that you’ll have to explain later. Just cut to the point — and for the prospect, the point is them.
I’ve heard some people say that you don’t want to “dumb down” your message too much, but research seems to say otherwise.
Studies show that engagement rates on emails are highest — by a huge margin — when the content is written at a fourth-grade level.
You read that right. And this “simplification” method also works when speaking.
Why does it work? Not because the vast majority of your prospects are rocking a fourth-grade education. It just means that the relative simplicity of fourth-grade syntax and vocabulary is easiest to process without losing the message.
Easier processing means more effective use of time when you only have seconds to make an impression!
2) What’s in It for Them?
Point #1 covered how to construct your pitch. Now what should the message of that pitch actually be?
You can’t go wrong with these three focal points:
- Disarm the listener. (It’s natural for folks to put up walls whenever they feel a pitch incoming. Yeah, even if they’ve asked to hear it.)
- Briefly describe the benefits you’ve delivered to other clients.
- Let them come up with the brilliant idea of working with you.
There’s a straightforward way to accomplish this that many people swear by; just use a bit of storytelling to hit on all points in one to two sentences:
“We’re helping companies like [a similar company to the prospect’s] get three times more value out of their business technology just by eliminating one common, and expensive, weak point.”
- You’ve disarmed the listener by making the story about another business, not theirs.
- You’ve communicated the actual value your company delivers to that specific type of prospect.
- You’ve allowed the listener to subconsciously say “Well, they did this for my competitor…and I want this…so I should ask for more information.” Self-closes are a good thing, even when they happen at the very beginning of the sales cycle.
Storytelling is super effective in both sales and marketing, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a long story. In fact, some of the most popular “sales story / branding” methods out there produce far too much hot air and wasted words to be of much use.
With that in mind…
3) Streamline Your Message
Follow this tried-and-true advice to writers: Don’t use two words when one word will do.
Simplicity leads to easier understanding. Easier understanding gets you through the sales process faster. Enough said.
Write and rewrite your pitch (and marketing taglines) until they’re as concise as you can get them. Then try them out on anyone who will give honest feedback.
(You want “short and sweet”, but you don’t want to lose the benefits in the process.)
4) Start a Conversation
Sales should be a dialogue, not a lecture.
“Impressing” your prospect with a wall of knowledge and backstory might sound like a good idea, but most people don’t care. Blathering doesn’t lead to a real connection which is what you’re ultimately after.
Personality helps. Being funny and/or charismatic is never a bad thing for a salesperson. Jokes and witty quips have always been good icebreakers for a reason — and while you might not want to turn to the “Big Book of Cheesy Pick-Up Lines” for your conversation starters, clever openers are bound to get you noticed a lot faster than the typical “can I talk to you about your current technology spending?” line. Snore!
Great salespeople know that rehearsal is part of the game. They practice their pitches in mirrors, in front of cameras, or in front of people willing to offer their feedback.
Sure, there’s the myth that if you practice too much, you’ll sound robotic or mechanical.
Don’t believe it.
Salespeople sound mechanical when they’re trying to remember their pitch as they go — same as actors who are struggling to remember their lines. Once you’ve practiced your pitch to perfection, you’ve freed yourself to actively listen to the prospect and to adjust your presentation as you go.
6) Be flexible.
We have a saying in the military:
“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”
This isn’t an excuse to give up on planning and preparation – it’s a statement about the importance of adapting. You never know what a prospect will say or do, so building a connection, actively listening to their needs, and being present are all extremely important.
Flexibility also allows you to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. For example, if the prospect starts talking about their favorite hobby, you don’t want to railroad the conversation and push right into your pitch. You want to take the opportunity to build rapport and start establishing a connection!