A Critical Sales Fundamental

Are you familiar with the Vulcan Mind Meld? More importantly, what does that have to do with selling cyber security? Keep reading to find out.

Often MSPs come to me and ask me to listen to a sales call recording or debrief a recent client interaction. Unfortunately, I often find that they are missing out on one key fundamental. I spot this missing piece of the puzzle easily, because I used to struggle with this myself. The last time this happened, I was working for a startup and, despite my best efforts, I had not closed a single sale in weeks. This was especially strange since I had just come off a huge run where I was closing anywhere from three to ten sales a week!

So I did what I see many smart MSPs do, I asked for help. I asked my coach (my sales manager) to listen to a couple of my sales calls. Something was broken, and I didn’t know how to fix it. For some reason, I could no longer seem to close a sale. I knew enough to know that SOMETHING had changed, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. After my manager listened to a handful of sales calls, he spotted the issue. It came down to one fundamental. 

That fundamental was not the Vulcan Mind Meld (although that would be cool). However, it was something similar. That fundamental? Control. Having control (and maintaining control) of your sales call is a fundamental piece of increasing your sales. There are at least three specific ways that you should control your sales calls: Include an up front contract. Use the right discovery questions. Remember to ask for the sale. 

If you figure these out, you will be on your way to selling more cybersecurity and increasing your profits.

An Up Front Contract

The first way to maintain control of your sales calls is through the up front contract. Whether you are on a prospecting call or a sales call, it is essential to explain to the prospect what your process looks like and then get them to commit to the next step. That next step could be one of many things. Maybe it is a network audit, security assessment, risk assessment, or data privacy audit. Whatever the next step is, you must explain it upfront. 

Let the prospect know what you hope to do as a result of this meeting. Tell them up front that there will be an offer at the end. Make it clear what you will offer and that, if it makes sense, they will say yes, and you will discuss where you go from there. This is just a simple verbalized agreement; and if done correctly, it will give your prospect confidence that you are a professional and that you’ve done this sales thing a time or two. 

The alternative is not to use an upfront contract. This is deciding not to leverage control in the sales process. Most likely, things will go completely off the rails during the call. If you don’t present a straightforward process, don’t present a clear upfront contract, or gain a micro-commitment from the prospect, you are leaving them in control. This means the prospect gets to use their own playbook, which is likely designed to collect as much information as possible without committing to anything. This is the opposite of what you are looking for.

Instead, you want an approach that will move them through the sales process and let you decide if you’re able to help them. 

Discovery Questions

The next aspect of regaining control of your sales calls is discovery questions. Don’t misunderstand discovery to be simply idle chitchat or filling time. Instead, discovery questions should be strategic and planned ahead of time. You should be directing this process, leading and controlling the dialogue. You should be shaping the direction, emotion, and pace of the conversation. 

Pay attention to how the prospect feels, whether they see the gap between where they are today and where you can take them. This should all happen within the discovery process, and it is all about control. That control is critical to the success of your prospecting or sales call.

Ask For The Sale

Often when I am debriefing sales calls with MSPs, I ask, “So you got to the end of your sales call, and then what happened?” Too often, I am met with blank stares. They did a great job revealing the gap between what the prospect has currently and what they need. The MSP followed SO MANY great sales fundamentals. And they forgot to finish the job. They never asked for the sale. Ironically, this was exactly the challenge I was having back during my sales slump while working for the start up that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog. I wasn’t asking for the sale. I’d get to the end of the call, and they would simply stop. “The End. Have a great day. Goodbye.” 

I see this same mistake too often with my clients. I coach them to ask for the sale. It is doubtful that someone will say, “Your solution is wonderful. Can I pay you now?” Not going to happen. You must ask for the sale. (And incidentally, when you set the up front contract, you have PROMISED that you’ll ask for a decision. So keep your word and ask them to take that next step.) 

Maybe you don’t ask for the sale because you get nervous, uneasy, or unsure about the next step. Or perhaps, you just forget to ask. However, too often, you don’t ask for the sale because you are afraid of “no.” Or, maybe you are fearful of the objections that may come up when you ask for the sale. All of these show that you have relinquished control. Perhaps you’ve given that control to the prospect, or maybe you are letting fear of the unknown future control you. But either way, take back control.

When you tell the prospect that you have the solutions to their problems and ask them to let you help, your question will likely solicit answers. That answer could be a yes. It could be a no. More than likely, there will be some objections, stalls, and stutters. If you are not confident in your ability to deal with those, you probably won’t ask for the sale because you are afraid you may lose control. But if you don’t ask for the sale, you aren’t going to get it.

Mastering The Vulcan Mind Meld

Gaining and maintaining control of the sales process really is like the Vulcan mind-meld. Pay close attention to when you are in control and when you have lost control. Remember that the upfront contact sets you up for success in that prospecting or sales call. Controlling the discovery process will help you give the prospect a clear picture of the problems they face and how they would impact the company. Finally, the control only pays off only if you ask for that sale or next step. Keep these in mind, and you will begin to see that regaining control is the key to selling more cybersecurity and increasing your profits.