How to handle common MSP sales objections in 2020

Sometimes you just can’t get through. You have a perfect solution for your customer and still face numerous objections. Being fully prepared for common ones will give you an edge and maybe even help close the deal right there and then.

How to handle common MSP sales objections in 2020
How to handle common MSP sales objections in 2020 . Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash

Every sales process runs into objections from prospects, so you need to be ready to address a variety of questions and concerns.

In this article, overviews some common MSP sales objections and shows how MSPs can deal with them. Read about the 7 common objections and how to handle them. These include:

  • Budget
  • Break-fix and no contract
  • Fear of adopting new technology
  • Bad experience with a similar service
  • “Let’s discuss it later”
  • Our personal favourite “Our backups are fine” and more
  • Come prepared and walk away with a signed contract.
  • And many more.

Table of contents

Budget
Break-Fix and No Contract
Let’s Discuss It Later
Fear of Adopting New Technology
Bad Experience with a Similar Service
We Are Not Ready
Our Backups Are Fine

Whether you are closing in on a sale, working on contracts, or discussing projects, there’s no doubt that dealing with objections from customers is difficult. Some say it’s the most difficult part of the MSP business.

You want to ensure your customers have the best solutions possible for their businesses, but oftentimes your recommendations can be met with an objection. Being able to handle these objections can make or break a client or prospect. The answer to solving this is to be prepared by identifying the issues ahead of time, so you are ready to address any objection along the way. If you are able to do this, your sales will increase and your customers will be happy.

The objections can arise from various angles. Let’s take a look at some common MSP sales objections and explore how to deal with them.

Budget

This is the number-one objection that customers will have. Every business has some form of a budget. This is natural, as businesses want to limit unnecessary spending and maximize profits. No one wants to hear “This costs too much,” especially when all you want is for the customer to benefit from the solution you’re recommending.

A good way to deal with this is not to start with cost. In the initial phases of discussion, focus more on the feature set than cost. Make sure to emphasize the key features and benefits your prospects will receive by using the tool, app, or hardware. This helps the customer to see the true value in the service, rather than focus on the overall cost. You can also draw attention to the fact that, if they do not move forward with your recommendation and do nothing, it may cost them two or three times as much in lost productivity or security issues.

Another way to work around cost is to be patient and accurate. What I mean by this is, again, discuss the benefits and features with the customer and give them time to process this. Do not immediately state a ballpark number or an estimate. Take note of feedback they provide from the conversation, develop a plan or proposal, and present it. When you present it, make sure the budgetary number is accurate. It’s never good if you tell a customer a number that is too high because your estimation is wrong, so that they reject it, when in fact the solution costs less.

You will kick yourself later if this happens. It’s best to be patient and get the numbers right.

In the end, you want them to look at the bigger picture with the business and understand the risks if they do nothing.

Break-Fix and No Contract

The IT industry in large part has gone to a subscription-based model. Even though this is common practice, I still encounter many companies who do not want pay-as-you-go contracts for managed IT services.

There are many possibilities as to why, but I have found the number-one reason is fear of being locked into a lengthy contract.

The best approach for this is initially to offer a low-risk, month-to-month contract. This shows the customer you are flexible and willing to work with them. Sometimes I have added a stipulation that, after a certain time frame, for example, three to four months, the contract will extend to a year. This approach gives you an opportunity to showcase your ability to provide quality service and build a long-term relationship. You can also add discounts for longer lengths of time. I’ve seen this work quite well. If they are willing to commit to a two-year contract, providing a discount for the monthly fee can be what makes them sign.

Another similar objection comes from customers who do not want to commit to any type of contract at all. They simply want to call you when things break or fail. This is known as a break-fix type of customer. There are several risks with this method. What happens is that you are essentially on call for the customer and will only receive calls when there is an urgent issue or emergency.

Ideally, you want your staff working with active customers in a proactive manner. With the break-fix method, you are operating in a reactive manner. This is not optimal for you or the customer. Working in a proactive manner ensures that the servers are patched, the network has the appropriate resources and, if any issue arises, you know about it ahead of time and can take action.

One option for this is to gather testimonials from existing customers who are in your service model and are satisfied with your work. Make note of certain key phrases or words that emphasize how you are able to monitor and discover issues ahead of time before they become a larger issue. Being able to showcase how your proactive approach works can be beneficial in these scenarios.

Let’s Discuss It Later

You will inevitably find procrastinating customers in every industry. Whether there’s a concern with the contract length or terms, or they haven’t read your upgrade proposal, you will have certain customers that are simply busy. In these cases, continuous follow-up may be required on your side.

I have found that, in these cases, you need to be very clear and to the point on why your proposal is important. If your customer doesn’t think it’s important, it’s far too easy not to answer the call or to move on from the email. I always try to strike a balance between being assertive and direct, but not overly aggressive. For example, I will put certain words in the body of the email in bold, such as: ”Licensing will expire next month. If no action is taken you’ll lose service XYZ.” This may lead to a conversation about more than upgrading the licenses, since the license upgrade may require a server to be upgraded or replaced. Do your best to grab their attention and force them to allocate time for your proposal, contract, or service offering.

Fear of Adopting New Technology

In today’s corporate world, companies should be willing to adapt to new, emerging technologies. Often, they help businesses run more efficiently but, in MSP sales, you will encounter customers who are not willing to accept new technologies. Most customers I work with have told me how they “don’t need to be on the cutting edge, they just need it to work”. This sounds great, but you have cases where, although technically the solution “works”, the software vendor is going to end support and there are security concerns.

There are several reasons for anxiety when it comes to changing technology. Individuals are naturally resistant to change in their work life. Business owners and employees value stability and the predictable nature of a work routine. They may feel that things have been working fine all that time, and any new change might make them anxious. Customers may also have a “fear of the unknown”, a worry that the use of new technologies will introduce additional costs and unexpected downtime. This can be particularly bad if they have had a bad experience in the past.

I’ve had the most success showing case studies or data on how other companies utilized new technology successfully. Being able to display this effectively can ease concerns and is the optimum strategy. Let’s say you have one customer who has moved their file services to the cloud and thus eliminated their on-premises file server. Document not only the process but also how this has benefited the business. For example, this has cut out the need for a physical server and increased the availability of the files/data. You can highlight these points and showcase these key factors to ease concerns for your customer. Knowing that other companies have been in a similar position and that they’ve successfully adopted new technology can assist with the fear they might have.

There are a couple more factors to be aware of with this topic: timing, communication, employee involvement with the process, and employee training/education. Keep these factors in mind when discussing adopting new technologies, as they can directly impact your projects.

Bad Experience with a Similar Service

When things go wrong, customers have long memories and won’t let go of their grudges. Prospects who got burned on a bad product or service from a competitor won’t forget either. However, that doesn’t have to be the end of the conversation. Let prospects know that you understand where they’re coming from, and take the opportunity to listen and identify where your product or service can exceed their expectations. One way to handle the “bad experience” objection is to say something like, “I’m very sorry to hear that. Can you tell me a little bit about what went wrong so I can make sure we avoid these issues?”

This is also the time to show your prospects that what you’re offering is different and enhances their bottom line. At the end of the day, your customers need to know that they’re in good hands and won’t encounter the same problems as they did previously.

I also recommend having as many visual and hard-copy documents as possible, to show how your offering is different from the previous product. I’ve had encounters where I spoke to a customer several times regarding a product or an upgrade and they did not want to move forward. I decided to take some screenshots from the vendor’s website and include it in a small PowerPoint presentation that showed some key differences in the products. My customer-focused on one key point from a slide. We discussed this in more detail and, shortly after, they agreed to move forward.

We Are Not Ready

You can perform every phase of the sale process and yet still be stuck waiting for an answer. This may sound like another objection we’ve looked at, where time is the issue, but in this case, it is different. If you hear that your prospect or customers are not ready, this can be a sign that something else is going on behind the scenes. Most likely, you have not provided a clear, compelling reason to move forward with the project, product, or service. Otherwise, they’ll sit on it forever, while they think it over.

If they’re not ready to decide, look to offer further incentives that it’s impossible to say no to. For example, you can use certain tactics to create a sense of urgency that can work well, such as offering a one-time discount on the entire project. You can also include extra features that are usually reserved for higher-priced premium contracts in order to create a bigger incentive to get the deal closed. The stronger the reason you give them to sign, the more likely they are to jump on it.

Our Backups Are Fine

Backups are an essential part of every business. Some would say it’s the most crucial. Without a solid backup system in place, the business is in jeopardy. If they’re lucky enough not to have had to restore entire systems or files regularly, customers don’t typically have much visibility into their backups. Sure, they might receive emails each morning that say “successful”, but I’ve found that most customers may not know where their risk is.

When you are discussing a potential new backup system, you need to be aware of several factors that come into play. Once more, decision-makers may receive a backup success message when they are currently using an older tape backup. From their perspective, the backups are fine, but you know very well that they could be utilizing a better system.

I have discovered the best route to discussing backups when you are faced with such an objection is to be able to discuss the differences in data/file backups versus image-level backups, as well as the flexibility in other solutions that allow restores to the cloud. I have often seen examples of this when I have discussed backups with customers who believed that a simple file backup meant they could restore the entire server and OS anywhere. What’s worked well for me and my staff is to highlight key risk areas and present the other options and show their flexibility. MSP360 backup is a perfect example of this. It can do simple file-level backups, full image-level, and you can restore your systems to the cloud.

Sales objections are not the end of the story, and in fact, they can present a unique opportunity. The more you identify and resolve these objections, the more likely you are to build trust with your customers. And, at the end of the day, a reputation built on trust and respect is exactly what you should aim for.

Source: MSP360 Managed Backup: #1 MSP Backup

Thomas Apel Published by Thomas Apel

, a dynamic and self-motivated information technology architect, with a thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to system and network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. I enjoy the technical writing process and answering readers' comments included.