… a thing with forward-looking organizations where you have entire sort of vertical teams with four or more people in the team all working together. That’s a cool concept.
CP: What about sales and marketing automation? Those applications have changed the game, right?
MS: [There] are all the sales tools in the Salesforce ecosystem. Salesforce is not just an application; it’s an ecosystem in which other products are layered in on top of that like management capabilities and qualification applications. There’s this whole range of applications that sit on Salesforce that allow direct sales people to be much more efficient and effective and save time and be more programmatic in their work.
CP: What’s happening to the agents then? What can MSPs learn from the agents and what can the agents learn from the direct sales teams in MSPs?
MS: [A few years ago, telecommunication companies] were finding that their top people were quitting because they could make double the money selling the same product as an agent than they could as a direct. And at first, these companies fought it because they didn’t want to lose their top talent. But then they said, “Let’s go ahead and do it; let’s encourage them but keep them in our ecosystem.” Their cost of sale is less. You don’t have the management overhead. You don’t have the office space. You don’t have the demo room, all that stuff. Marketing, employee benefits, vacation, sick, insurance — they don’t have any of that stuff, right? The best people became agents.
But what the agents don’t have — they don’t have all these sales available to them. They don’t have this sales force. They don’t have the marketing engine. They don’t have all that tech lead retrieval; they don’t have any of that stuff. So what you’re seeing is the new accounts, the new logos are being won by the direct sales organizations, and the agents are nurturing the customers better.
Direct sales is where the innovation is. That’s where the new ideas are coming, the new ways of attracting customers, the way to cross-sell, up-sell, expand your offers. Innovation is driving the direct side, but the money and the loyalty is on the agent side. It’s fascinating.