Bridging the Gap Between MSP Sales & Operations

Let’s begin with a little quiz. Please indicate which group – sales or operations – would more likely use the following phrases: “Sure, no problem”; “We can to that!”; “That timeline sounds great!”

Ok, got it? Now for the next set of phrases: “Here’s why that’s a problem”; “That would require significant resources”; “You committed to what timeline!?”

Sound familiar? The dynamic and complex nature of the Managed Service Provider (MSP) sales process requires strong communication and alignment between sales leaders and their operational colleagues. In order to successfully bridge the gap between sales and operations, sales leaders must engage with their operational colleagues early in the process, and foster open and ongoing dialogue. It is incumbent upon the sales team to understand the customer’s objectives and their current model and to establish an ongoing operational presence throughout the sales cycle. A key aspect of this process is to solicit information from all relevant customer stakeholder groups, in the contingent workforce management process including IT, HR and the user community, and incorporate these learnings into the proposed MSP solution.

Many critical elements of MSP solution design and execution are dependent upon alignment between sales and operations, including:

Composition of service team: the customer’s geographic dispersion, labor categories, Service Level Agreements, hours of operations, expectations and several other factors shape the configuration of the service team and support model. Engagement of the operations team and ongoing communication with the customer will ensure the development of a sustainable support configuration.

Implementation timeline: does the customer’s current usage model and company culture allow for the establishment of an aggressive implementation timeline? Are there ebbs and flows in the business cycles which would create challenges? Are there complex integration issues? Creating a mutually agreeable implementation strategy requires an in-depth understanding of the customer’s objectives, and an integrated communication effort between sales and operations.

Savings objectives: setting realistic expectations regarding savings requires an understanding of the customer’s current business mix, supplier relationships, and several other factors. The creation of savings targets, as well as the methodology for establishing a spend baseline and capture methodology, is often achieved through communication among the sales, operations, and customer teams.

The successful MSP sale is characterized by a cohesive effort between sales and operations, which ultimately leads to the attainment of the customer’s objectives. Both groups, despite taking different approaches, are focused on exceeding customer expectations and building long-term successful relationships.

How do you help bridge the gap between sales and operations in your organization?