2024 Sales and Marketing Self-Evaluation for Technology Dealers

Is your sales and marketing ready for 2024?

You know the digital sales and marketing landscape is evolving at a breakneck pace. For growth-minded technology dealers and managed services providers (MSPs), staying ahead is not just a choice; it’s a necessity.

Below is my “2024 Sales & Marketing Self-Evaluation,” a tool crafted for leaders like you who are determined to thrive as you replace traditional imaging revenues with newer services like managed IT, cybersecurity, workflow automation, unified communications, video surveillance, bottleless water systems, and more!

How to evaluate: Score your organization on these 10 questions using a 1 to 10 scale. A score of 10 on a question means you’re perfect! Be sure to add up all 10 scores to rank your sales and marketing readiness at the end versus a perfect score of 100.

1. How convincing is your digital DNA?

Imagine this: A prospect is considering a meeting with your salesperson or reviewing a proposal from your company. Now they are scanning your website, your social media messages, your rep’s LinkedIn profile, and, of course, your Google Reviews. They’re looking to validate your claims, compare you with the competition, and make a safe decision for their business.

This is 2024, and we are selling to technology buyers, right?

Why it matters: There’s a direct correlation between the strength of your digital DNA (how people see you through a screen) and your sales win rates. Remember, you’re selling to technologically savvy buyers who likely use technology to evaluate you.

It surprises me how few business owners know their current Google Review ratings — or monitor their competitors’. Some online research can make or break a deal within minutes if your digital DNA doesn’t support your credibility. I won’t even get into what AI will do to profile vendors until my next article.

Action plan: Visit your top three competitors’ websites and social media to see what they are saying and how you compare. Check your Google Reviews, social media posts over the last 30 days, email campaigns, and blogs, and be honest with yourself about what you see. Do you sound like a copier dealer or a technology service provider? You’ll know quickly if you need to pick it up to look the part this year.

2. Are your people Linked-in or Linked-out?

LinkedIn is the place to be: When I speak at technology conferences, I tell people that LinkedIn is the watering hole where all your current and future customers hang out. The business owners, the CFOs, the CIOs, the VPs, the directors, and yes, even the office managers. We must join them on LinkedIn as a company and as individuals. We need to be seen by them, so we’re top of mind at the point of need to provide educational content that adds value and helps create more sales opportunities with your ideal customer profile.  

Why it matters: LinkedIn is our generation’s sales Rolodex and prospecting power tool. Sadly, most sales teams have no formal LinkedIn strategy. With proper LinkedIn training and planning, a sales team can quickly rebrand their profiles into customer resumes, learn how to prospect, and post content that secures more meetings. When used properly, LinkedIn will rival traditional prospecting activities such as door-to-door canvassing, phone, and email outreach. 

Action plan: Look at each of your sales rep’s LinkedIn profiles to see if they look like customer resumes or job resumes. Then look and see if they are liking their prospects’ posts. This is digital sales 101. Your company and people need to know how to unleash the sales power of LinkedIn. Don’t miss out on this easy fix.

3. Would your customers drop you for a 60-inch flatscreen?

Picture this: An aggressive competitor offers to drop off a free 60-inch flatscreen at your customer’s residence if they switch their business from you to them. Assuming they are not bound by a contract, would they stay or go?

Why it matters: It takes five to seven times the effort to acquire a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. Too often, we assume our customers are loyal. Maybe the focus on driving new business has left some of your customers vulnerable to the competition? If you’re not adding value beyond the contract and not keeping a pulse on their experience, you may be replaced by a flatscreen.

Action plan: Create a customer retention campaign to showcase your value and minimize churn.

4. Are you yelling or selling your ideal clients?

The stats: According to a recent survey, 87% of knowledge workers scroll through promotional content on social media feeds. You’ve seen the promotional content I’m referring to. It’s bragging, it’s a product push, it’s over the top and annoying all in one.

Educating your prospects and customers isn’t new, but often fails to transcend across all customer-facing platforms like your website, blogs, and email campaigns. Done right, promotional content has proven to create awareness, boost consideration rates, and generate sales leads.

Why it matters: Promotional content fuelled by aggressive sales pitches pushes buyers away.  Educational content like e-books, webinars, third-party reports, and informative videos will attract buyers and elevate your perceived value as a technology provider.

Action plan: Review your website content offers (e-books/webinars), blogs, email campaigns, and LinkedIn posts over the last 30 days to see if you are promoting or educating.

5. Are you cross-selling to win?

Why cross-selling? Most dealers tell me that over 80% of their revenues are still coming from traditional copier sales and service, and 80% of those copier sales usually come from just a few tenured reps who are reluctant to sell beyond their comfort zone.

If you’re looking to unleash your monthly recurring profit potential by selling IT services, cybersecurity, and more, your people need to be comfortable cross-selling at every opportunity — before your competition does.

Why it matters: Cross-selling is the fastest way to grow your monthly recurring revenues. Plus, you’ll enjoy the benefits it brings in the form of account protection, account expansion, and new business acquisition.

Sadly, most dealers are not confident that their current customers are aware of all the products and services they offer, even though it’s five times easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one. Perhaps you, too, are missing out on buying cycles because people still see you as just a “copier dealer”?

Action plan: Ask your salespeople how they are currently cross-selling. Role-play with them. Listen to their questions and observe the customer-facing sales tools they use to show and sell. You might quickly realize why the cross-selling you thought was happening isn’t. Then again, maybe your reps are great at it, and all you need is a strong webinar series to create more leads and more conversations about your adjacent services.

6. If your sales training program was a fragrance, how would you smell?

Who wins? If you put a trained sales rep and an untrained sales rep through the same sales cycle, who would have a better chance of winning the deal?

The answer is obvious.

Despite this, most technology dealers fail to provide professional sales training, or they see training as a one-time event. I can tell you after having hosted over 1,000 sales events, most reps forget everything after the cocktails are served at the end of the day.

Expecting results from a one-day sales training event is like expecting results from a one-day diet. You may expect this coming from a sales coach like me, but I can assure you that the dealers that add customer-facing sales tools to their training and commit to a 90-day program see exponential results. I’m talking about measurable ROI on your training investment.

When you do sales training, I highly suggest you make it interactive, with plenty of role-playing to see how your people are responding in the heat of the game.

Why it matters: Some dealers have forgotten that product training is not sales training. They are completely different, and both are needed. Trained salespeople sell more than untrained salespeople, which helps you grow your top and bottom line. Sales training programs can also help dealers recruit better candidates, retain salespeople longer, and help their people make more money.

Action plan: Test your teams’ sales readiness by role-playing common sales scenarios. Test their prospecting approaches, see how they handle objections, and how they sell the services beyond your core offering. Be sure to include your new and tenured people to evaluate what type of training is needed. You may also want to consider outsourcing your sales training so you know it’s being done, and your people are exposed to industry best practices used outside your dealership.

7. Is your compensation plan a motivator or demotivator?

Let’s talk money: You know salespeople are coin-operated. Think about what motivated you when you were selling. Didn’t you sell whatever made you the most money with the least resistance? As dealers strive to grow their monthly recurring revenues with new managed services, many of their compensation plans are stuck in the 1990s chained to a gross profit number on an MFP. Money may not be the most important thing to your salespeople, and I’m sure you’re paying on more than a copier, but make sure your compensation plan motivates the behaviors and the sales results you seek.

What’s the best compensation plan? Salespeople tell me they want a compensation plan that is easy to understand, fairly rewards their financial contribution, and includes achievable gates to maximize their earnings. As a dealer, your best compensation plan is one that motivates your people to sell more services that drive recurring profits from current and new accounts.

Action plan: Look at your compensation plan through the eyes of a salesperson. Determine how you may want to change it or add spiffs to motivate your reps to sell the products and services that will increase the value of your business. 

8. Is your marketing old school or new school? 

Meet new school: AI, sales automation, and marketing automation are the buzz at the industry conferences I’ve attended so far in 2024. It’s hard to keep up with the overwhelming surge of bits, bots, and promises from so-called experts that the “silver bullet” has finally arrived. Before you jump on the bandwagon, I strongly suggest you do exactly what you tell your customers to do with your technology: Do an assessment of what marketing assets you have, how they’re being used, what they’re costing you, and the results you are accomplishing.

What’s the right mix? The high cost of a human knocking on doors is being challenged by 2024’s alternative of hotwiring some contact lists into a CRM and then blitzing those new contacts by email, text, or phone. Consider a mix of old and new-school sales and marketing strategies to maximize your ROI. People still buy from people, and we find that a hybrid strategy works best.

Action plan: To determine what’s best for your business, you’d be well served to speak to a full-service agency specializing in helping MSPs decide on the best value for their marketing spend. This will help you validate your current state or know what’s possible.

9. How’s your webinar strategy coming along?

Webinars are No. 1: At a recent CDA meeting, I did a presentation about cross-selling. This meeting included a panel of marketing leaders from several dealerships. At the end, I asked, “What is your number one lead generation driver?” Without exception, they said webinars. Webinars can drive over 50% of a dealer’s sales leads.   

Why webinars matter: An educational webinar will attract prospects who are in or entering the buying window. Webinars are perfect for creating awareness, boosting consideration rates, generating sales leads, and validating your competency on services adjacent to your core offering.

Action plan: Study what webinars are being offered by other dealers to see what topics may be attractive to your customers. If needed, seek professional help for promotion, registration, content creation, delivery coaching, recording, and postproduction so you have the video replay as an evergreen lead generation magnet on your website.

10. Are you open to external coaching?

Can a third party help? When I speak to sales teams, I often tell them, “It’s what you learn about sales after you think you know it all that really counts.” The same applies to your sales and marketing plans for the year ahead. Do you think you have it all figured out? 

Why coaching matters: The right sales and marketing coach will help you access and optimize your sales offense. The wrong coach will lead you down a path that favors their offering. Great coaches can identify quick wins and provide strategic thinking to help you navigate your many options to increase sales productivity and performance. In the same way great athletes have great coaches, so do great business leaders.

Action plan: Think about your internal skillset and bandwidth when executing an impactful sales and marketing strategy. Maybe it’s time to consider a third-party coach to complement your growth objectives.

What’s your score?

Now is the time to tally up your self-evaluation score based on how you rated yourself on all 10 questions on a 1 to 10 scale. A score of 100 means your current sales and marketing is perfect.

Score meanings:

50 or less: WARNING ZONE!

51 – 70: OPPORTUNITY ZONE, a third-party coach will supercharge your results!

71 – 90: OPTIMIZATION ZONE, a holistic strategy will elevate you to perfection!

91 – 100: OVERCONFIDENT ZONE, you may be hard to convince change is needed.

How did you do? Maybe it’s time to rethink your plans for the year ahead if you want to make sure your team is selling and marketing to win. 

Rick Lambert is a Digital Sales & Marketing Coach helping hundreds of Imaging Dealers and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) increase awareness, boost consideration rates and generate sales leads in hypercompetitive markets. Rick is the Founder and CEO of selltowin.com, a Sales Performance company and IN2communciations.com, a full-service Digital Marketing Agency specializing in Managed Service Providers.