7 lessons to help you sharpen your sales skills

Let me introduce myself. My name is Stefanie Hammond and I am the new Head Sales and Marketing Nerd here at N-able. Since its inception in 2020, our Head Nerds program has been focused on the technological and operational aspects of running an MSP.

Fast-forward to late 2020: We identified a gap in our training offerings. We continued to hear from partners that they were struggling with the basic elements of sales and marketing, and asking the age-old question, “How can I sell more so I can grow my business and increase profits?” We decided to create a new role to specifically address the business side of growing your MSP—and so here I am!

Old dog, new tricks

Hopefully many of you reading this today already know me, as I’ve been working here for almost 17 years. If we haven’t met yet, I’m looking forward to meeting you virtually or at one of our events someday (post COVID-19), as I thoroughly enjoy talking to MSPs about their business. I feel like I’ve grown up in this industry, and yet so many changes keep occurring that continue to keep us on our toes and ever-evolving—that is the fun in it all!

In the past, my role was in partner development. Several years ago, I transitioned into a sales role on the channel side of the business, managing an elite group of our top-tier partners. I’ve worked with hundreds of partners throughout the years, helping them reach their growth goals and sales potential. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but there are some key habits I’ve learned and incorporated in my daily sales routines that I believe were instrumental in helping me achieve “Sales Club” status for six out of the seven years I worked in sales. I’d like to share them with you now to help you along your sales journey.

What I’ve learned in 17 years of customer service and sales success

1. Pick up the phone

In this day and age, email is easy—and everyone is on various social media platforms. Both are useful tools to help foster partner engagement. But things can get lost in translation in these channels. I’ve always found that it’s actually easier to simply pick up the phone and call a partner to talk through things. Maybe I’m just an old dog who refuses to learn new tricks, but I firmly believe the personal touch will continue to help mold and build long-term customer satisfaction and sustainable partnerships.

2. Be responsive

We live in a time where we want instant gratification. We want immediate answers to our questions. We love being able to google something and get exactly what we need. But your customers can’t google specific questions or concerns they may have about their account. This is where you can really shine in the customer service department.

It goes without saying that you need to return phone calls and emails as quickly as possible during business hours. And I’m not advocating responding to customer emails at 2 a.m. But, if I’m sitting at my dinner table, with a glass of wine in hand, scrolling through Pinterest, while my kids are cleaning up, I can answer a few easy low-ball questions that might come my way. My partners don’t necessarily expect a response at 7 p.m. on a Friday evening, but they always seemed to be very appreciative that I took the time to answer their questions in during off hours.

3. Be accountable and follow through

Don’t let things fall through the cracks and don’t let the ball drop on issues that are important to your partners. Account management and sales is often 10% sales and 90% babysitting and helicoptering. Following up with other members of the business—like support, product management, and finance—may seem like it’s taking away from your selling time, but these are critical activities that build trust and credibility with your partners. If the issue is important to them, it should be important to you, and you should ensure they get the answers they’re looking for.

4. Know when to say “I don’t know”

When we don’t know an answer to a question, it sometimes feels like you need to make something up. But customers can tell when you aren’t being honest, and dishonesty threatens any relationship. It’s much better to simply admit you don’t know, find the answer, and get back to them as soon as possible (refer back to lesson number three).

5. Don’t be afraid of the muck

No one likes dealing with upset customers. I definitely wouldn’t say it’s my favorite part of the job. But sometimes partners get angry and you get to be their advocate—standing up for them and being their voice in the company. If you can see it through, and at the end of it your customer feels heard, that’s when a true partnership blossoms. You’ll have proven you aren’t in it just for the money, but that you truly value the relationship, and are in it for the long haul.

6. Write it down

I can’t stress this enough. I document everything. If it isn’t in our Salesforce system, it didn’t happen. Going back to “old dog” here—my mind is a sieve. There is nothing worse than having a follow-up call with a partner, not having any notes, and having to ask the partner to repeat something they’ve previously told you. So, write it all down and refer back to it before every partner call.

7. Make it personal

People buy from people. You can read up on all sorts of B2B sales and marketing tactics and strategies but, at the end of the day, it is really P2P—and people buy from people they like. Be genuine. Be authentic. Be present. You may not get a purchase order today, but if you can strive to create real connections with your partners and prospects in all interactions, the long game is in your favor.

So, let’s connect and let’s see where I can help.

Stefanie Hammond is the head sales and marketing nerd at N-able. You can follow her on twitter at @sales_mktg_nerd.