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Listening to understand is key to managed services success. Hannah O’Donnell, CompTIA MSP Community member, says that asking the right questions helps customers and prospects coach themselves and makes the idea theirs and not yours. Consider two recent MSP sales conversations that you had. Now, ask yourself:
The conversation was very productive and resulted in strong positive outcomes
You regret having had a bad conversation and wish you could have it again.

What were the highlights of each conversation? What were the low points of each conversation? Xun Kuang said, “Tell me and it’s gone”, “Teach me and it’s gone,” and “Teach me and it may be remembered”, and “Involve me and you learn!” Hands-on learning is the best way to learn. Real-life experiences are a large part of how we grow our careers. How can we build better habits and incorporate this into our sales processes? Listening to understand is more important than responding. Asking questions helps prospects and customers to coach themselves. It makes the idea theirs and not yours.
Ask questions throughout the sales process
After a prospect leads has expressed interest through marketing and sales, the qualification process begins. You may not have enough information about the company’s business needs at this point. We need to learn more so we can either lose quickly or move forward with the right leads. To make this decision, we need to ask questions and not sell our solution. One suggestion: Create a qualification tool with questions that help you identify the quality of a lead, before you spend too much time or money. This can help you prioritize your opportunities.
First appointment
Once you have qualified the prospect based upon your target customer profile, it is time to find out if they are open to making the investment towards the next steps which include assessment and a final proposal. Set the tone for the conversation and set the stage for the goals you want to achieve during the first appointment. It is easy to ask the prospect, “Would it share some details about your IT environment and how technology works for you?”
The assessment is the next stage in the MSP sales process. This is a crucial time to ask questions. Your potential customer has committed to having their employees meet with you and for your engineer perform a technical assessment. The customer is now yours to win. Customers will share their experiences during the assessment. These are your opportunities to solve problems. This is not the time for you to sell solutions. Ask questions to quantify the impact of these openings when you hear them. Ask follow-up questions such as, “How did it work for you?” What other activities could you do? What was the impact of that?
This information can be used to create your final proposal. This will make your final solution the prospect’s idea and not yours. This was possible by listening to understand and not responding.
Let’s go back to the original questions about your two recent sales conversations.
The conversation was very productive and resulted in strong positive outcomes

You regret having had a bad conversation and wish you could have it again.

Now, ask yourself: In each of these situations, how much of the talking and listening did you do? This skill takes practice and isn’t something you can learn overnight.
Hannah O’Donnell, director of sales at Collabrance, is an executive council member for CompTIA’s Managed Services Community.
Get in touch with Hannah and other MSP leaders by joining CompTIA’s Managed Services Community today.

By Delilah