On the show today, I chat with Ted Hulsy, Global Head of Channel Marketing at Dropbox. If you’ve been in the MSP industry for any length of time, you probably know Ted or know his name. He spent time at SonicWall, eFolder, and itopia before joining Dropbox in 2018 and as he mentions in this interview, he’s been an active participant in the HTG peer groups, now called the IT Nation Evolve peer groups.

We talk about making that first sales hire in your business and why the real question is not who you’re going to hire or even how are you going to structure their comp plan (although we talk about that too) but the real question is have you set them up for success. And we discuss what that looks like.

Listen here


But first, our new 1 Thing segment, where we hear from an MSP about 1 thing that’s made a difference in their business. Today we have Beth Burnside from CMIT Solutions of Erie.

1 Thing (#MSP1T)

[01:17] The overall secret to success is focusing on the managed services business model itself.

[01:28] When Beth started the company in 2007, they were strictly a managed services provider. This was unusual at the time but has really helped them.

[01:37] The strict focus has allowed them to attract the kind of clients they want and to build an effective business because of the predictability.

That tip from Beth Burnside was from episode 004 of Frankly MSP, where Beth filled us in on how she managed to double her company’s revenue each year for the last 5 years. A focus on managed services was obviously one piece of that puzzle and in the full episode Beth also digs into metrics, utilization, and timesheets so if those are things you’ve been struggling with or trying to optimize, have a listen to episode 004.

What’s your 1 Thing? What idea, strategy, tool, book, process, thing made a real difference to your MSP career or business. Put another way, let’s say a new MSP walked up to you at conference and said, “I’m just getting started in this space. What advice can you give me? What’s worked for you?” and you can only tell them 1 thing. What would that 1 thing be?

Tell us in a voice memo and email the recording to [email protected]. Not only could you be podcast-famous by being featured on the show, I’ll also send you a Frankly MSP t-shirt. They’re pretty cool and I want to give them away!

Interview with Ted Hulsy – Why Sales Is a Process, Not a Person

Ted Hulsy, formerly from Dropbox
Ted Hulsy, formerly from Dropbox

[03:56] Ted has been involved with the IT Nation Evolve peer groups (formerly HTG peer groups) for almost 10 years. In one meeting, an MSP owner walked the group through everything he did to prepare to hire a salesperson—and it had nothing to do with the person or the search and hiring.

[04:47] Many MSP business owners struggle because they think they need to hire a sales superstar. It’s more about preparing your business to hire that first sales person.

[05:27] Sales for an MSP is less about the person and more about the process.

[06:21] One of the problems MSPs have is not having everything around their sales and marketing documented properly. This makes it almost impossible for someone to step into a new sales position.

[06:56] Document your offering with all the pricing and all the customizable package
information. Make it clear which solution you’d is your primary package and how to customize it to drive revenue and solve problems.

[07:34] Get all the knowledge out of your head and onto paper.

[08:15] Often there’s even confusion about what you want to sell to your client.

[08:38] Your marketing collateral has to align to your core offering.

[09:48] It’s important to distinguish between sales and marketing.
Having a process and a distinct division of labor helps make this more clear.

[10:39] Break the process into distinctive parts.

[11:21] The first quota-carrying salesperson on your team should be an account manager. Have them drive your quarterly business reviews and focus on generating new revenue from existing clients.

[13:15] It’s key to have an account manager to coordinate activities and meetings with clients.

[13:38] An account manager is not a vCIO and vice versa.

[14:57] Professional salespeople won’t work for 100% variable compensation. Anyone who does is likely desperate. Have a balanced comp structure.

[16:01] The first job of an account manager is to retain clients so their variable compensation should be tied in part to retention.

[17:10] You’ll know you’re ready to hire an account executive to sell to new prospects when you feel your account manager is working at a good rhythm and is increasing their level of productivity every month and quarter.

[18:27] Have all the entire process documented, have a CRM in place, have a compensation plan, then look at hiring for sales. With the ground prepared, you will have a much easier time.

[19:35] It’s more important to hire for sales aptitude than tech experience.

[20:42] Look for work ethic, coachability, teachability, and personality style. Having a process in place means you can look for aptitude and teach them the process.


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