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Successful selling requires an understanding of the buyer’s mind, and most MSPs fail to develop a clear understanding of their customer’s true needs. Specifically, many MSPs don’t understand why buyers do — or don’t — buy from them. Great businesses take the time to understand their buyer’s psyche. Let’s delve a little deeper.

First, there’s the psychology of buying. People buy based on emotion rather than logic — even large corporations. Why do we all yearn for BMW 7 Series when a Honda Civic gets us from point A to point B just as well and for a lot less? Spending $90,000 on a car defies all logic and reason when you think about it. Here’s why we do it.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from psych 101? Well, it applies to sales, too. We want the BMW because it tickles the desires at the top of Maslow’s pyramid. Driving a nice car makes us feel important, like we have achieved greatness. It earns the respect of our clients and friends. These needs trump the basic transportation needs at the bottom of the pyramid.

The BMW Hierarchy of Needs:

  • Physiological Needs: We need transportation.
  • Safety Needs: A car allows us to work and earn income to support our family.
  • Belonging Needs: Having a nice car like the people we aspire to be means we belong.
  • Esteem Needs: A luxury car earns respect and adoration.
  • Self-Actualization Needs: A luxury car gives us the edge we need to be successful.

The MSP Hierarchy of Needs:

  • Physiological Needs: My business needs a computer network to function.
  • Safety Needs: My business needs a safe and secure IT infrastructure.
  • Belonging Needs: Good businesses use technology effectively and have competent IT departments. So should mine.
  • Esteem Needs: Being a successful technology leader in business will make our company the envy of employees, customers, and competitors.
  • Self-Actualization Needs: Effectively leveraging technology will allow me to build a more profitable and successful company.

The Seller’s Mistake:

Here is where most people falter. They sell from the bottom of the pyramid up, rather than from the top down. We tend drill in on the technological (“physiological” and “safety”) needs rather than higher level business concepts. We’re going to keep your equipment running, backup your data, patch your servers, and so on. Blah, that’s boring. These are important aspects of what we do, but they don’t inspire CEOs to pay top dollar for managed services.

The Right Way to Sell:

Selling from the top of the pyramid down excites people. No CEO gets hot and bothered by patch management. Instead, focus on high level concepts. Show them how they can better use technology to increase sales, keep their employees productive, and reach their ultimate business goals. Demonstrate how their competitors are using technology more effectively than they are. Making more money and achieving success excites CEOs. Work from the top down. Show them how you can enable their business to be great.

Paul Barnett is VP and COO at Network Depot, the MSP that launched Virtual Administrator. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of Barnett’s guest blogs here.

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