At Channel Partners Evolution in Philadelphia, Oct. 9-12, Mike Schmidtmann, who owns channel sales firm Trans4mers, will lead a panel to answer the question on everyone’s minds: What sales tips can agents and MSPs learn from each other?
Schmidtmann says that while the agent channel is exploding, the sales innovation is happening within the direct sales teams at managed service providers. Once upon a time, if you wanted to grow sales, you added salespeople. Today, the number of outside agent salespeople is declining, he says, but the ones that are staying are making more money than ever. What does that reveal about agent sales strategies that MSPs can learn from and where agents are falling short that IT providers are excelling?
Quite a bit, says Schmidtmann. We sat down with him to pick his brain in advance of the event and his “5 Lessons MSP Sales Teams Can Learn From Agents — and Vice Versa,” panel, part of the marketing and technology conference track sponsored by Cyxtera. Here, he talks about the changing nature of channel sales, how applications are changing the game and why the role of trusted adviser is more important than ever.
The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.
Channel Partners: Explain to our readers how the agent sales model and the MSP sales model play off one another in the market.
Mike Schmidtmann: One of the dynamics in the field is that when outside sales is declining, inside sales is expanding. [Inside sales teams like those at managed service practices] have a lot more appointment setters. You have marketing people that do lead nurturing. You have drip campaigns. So inside sales expanding and outside sales [are] declining. But the outside salespeople that are there are doing better than ever.
CP: How have the structure of channel sales departments changed over time?
MS: [There is] innovation [happening with] sales team construction. It used to be 10 people, 10 salespeople. 100 people, 100 salespeople. Then you might have major accounts and seniors. With the teams [you see among agent sales departments], it’s all for one, one for all. Every nickel that anybody sells goes into the bucket for the whole team. They have a senior consultant who’s the big dog, then they have a junior consultant who’s the rising star, then they have a new person, then they have an administrative person. And they each have defined roles.
What you see in direct sales organizations is if you have a top person get a low-level lead, they’re too greedy to give it up. That actually hurts their productivity because they’re chasing too small of a prospect. With a team, there’s incentive to push it downstairs, because they know they’ll get credit for it if the junior person sells it. Conversely, the junior person gets an opportunity. In the past, they’d never want to give it up because maybe they’d have a chance to sell it, but now they want to push it up because they want the best person with the best experience to push it up. So sales teams are really becoming …