There is no real secret to catching a trophy-quality fish. You simply need to find that right lure or the proper bait that will attract its attention and then use a swift but firm motion to sink the hook and finish the deal. Regardless of size of the catch, the skill of the fisherman (or fisherwoman) or the location of the fishing hole, everyone follows that same, basic approach. After finding a large school or a comfortable site with great potential, you still need a combination of the right incentives, patience, ability and luck to land the big one.

Of course, every fisherman knows the lure is the real key to success. That monster fish will never make it to that revered spot over their fireplace, and their picture get printed in the sports of the local newspaper if their catch isn’t hooked securely. With the proper instruments and the right angle of approach, their chances of landing the “big one” increase exponentially.

MSPs who are attempting to land those “whopper” managed services contracts should take heed. Scouting prospective clients is a lot like finding a good fishing spot. You rely on the best practices of the professionals and gather feedback from peers, and use a variety of other variable to help select the most viable location. Are they biting? Has it recently been stocked?

MSPs must understand which potential markets will offer them the most opportunity, just as fishing aficionados have to know where the fish are and which bait will more likely catch their interest. More importantly, both groups have to know which hook can help them land the biggest catch. For IT services professionals, a well-developed and clearly defined sales proposal accomplishes that objective. When prospective clients understand the offer in hand, spelled out in plain language with benefits and terms developed specifically for their organizations, they are much more likely to “bite.”

MSPs often find that the close rates AND the size of their deals increase exponentially when they put a little more time and some extra consideration into their sales proposals. There’s really no secret to it, just a focused approach highlighting your clients’ needs and succinct language spelling out why, how and when you will help. While that sounds easy, remember that a sales proposal can make or break your relationship with prospective customers. That’s why each of these elements is needed to help clearly differentiate your business offerings:

Introduction

While many organizations use the opening statement of a sales proposal to tout their latest conquest or rattle off a variety of historical facts and figures, successful MSPs go a different route.  They begin by outlining the specific problems their prospective client face and detail the opportunities those businesses could take advantage of with their help. The emphasis is on the customer, not the provider. Successful MSPs always define the objectives of their agreements and describe the methods they will use to measure success. Since all deliverables are based on the information contained in this section, each detail must be authenticated before proceeding to the next step.

Scope of Work

This is where you get to tell a little more about your company, the specific solutions you plan to implement and the services you would like to provide a prospective client. While this sounds simple enough, MSPs can easily overlook a real customer concern or make an improper assumption that sinks the deal. There should be a description of the solutions and their functionality, a list of all services, illustrations (if applicable) and a statement outlining the current condition of any utilized infrastructure. That last part can be crucial: if the specified project or service relies on incompatible equipment or an inferior network, the system may never work as well as planned. If those concerns are not properly communicated with a client, it could negatively impact customer satisfaction, add to the long-term cost of operations (for both organizations) and eventually end the relationship.

Deliverables

This section builds on the scope of work by including implementation dates and a schedule of services to be provided. It’s where policies and procedures are outlined and details of warranties, exchange policies and other support services are listed.

Pricing

No sale proposal would be complete without a full disclosure of costs. From the initial hardware and implementation charges, to recurring services and training fees, the price of every line item for the life of the contract must be carefully detailed.  That should include a schedule of deposits, payments and ongoing fees. With those costs and service details in hand, a prospective client can adequately evaluate the value of your proposal and compare it with other offers. That contrast can be very helpful when attempting to displace an entrenched competitor who may not be as capable or as willing to discuss their cost structure.

Call to action/summary

This is your written close, where you ask for their approval (and signature) to bring them on board. Again, an MSP should use clear and concise language here. Be sure to proofread this section multiple times to ensure it makes sense to your client and will have the desired effect (more money for you)!

Testimonials (attached or in the footer of the proposal) can also help bolster your case. One of the most effective closing tools in an MSP’s arsenal is the recommendation of a respected peer. Unless your prices are significantly higher than the competition, with accurate information and close attention to your clients’ pain points, a solid proposal can significantly boost both the size and number of contracts you close.

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