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Take It From The MSP Marketing & Sales Experts
Stuart Crawford from Ulistic, Ken Thorsen from Acumen Management Group, and Nick Points from Chartec share their thoughts on vendors leads, marketing best practices, sales management and recruiting, differentiating your MSP and more.
Stuart tells us that you can never go “deep enough” with your clients. You must invest all your efforts in their satisfaction. It’s much easier to sell more services to your existing clients than it is to find new ones.
If you treat your clients as they should be treated, they will be a great source of reference for new ones. Work with them to get referrals. This creates a funnel of new business that you can count on.
With referrals coming in, you’ll have the flexibility to try new marketing and sales strategies.
Another strategy: Take a look at your customer base over the past 3 to 5 years. Rank them and you’ll find that the top 15% provide about 65% of your revenue and the next 20% provide 20% of your revenue.
This calculation will help you determine the demographics (size, industry, location, etc.) to focus your marketing and sales efforts on. Once you identify your A and B customers that make up 85% of your revenue, and their demographics, you can go after these kinds of businesses.
Take your top 10 customers and power-network with them. They can help you develop leads.
Remember, you must work hard to generate and keep your sales pipeline flowing.
Stuart says that his experience running his own MSP business over 10 years ago was that he could get 20 to 30% of leads from vendors and partners. However, this will only happen if you build strong relationships with them. If you do, when an opportunity comes in, hopefully, they will send it to you.
And don’t focus on just one partner or. Keep a healthy balance of them.
Remember, your partners and vendors don’t owe you referrals. Plus, they generate referrals based on requests. You could end up spending a lot of time and money going after a lead who only wants a $12 device. Make sure you qualify your leads.
Define your A and B leads based on the demographics and based on your 85% numbers mentioned above. Ensure the leads you ask for meet your demographics. And, make sure your salespeople chase the right leads.
1 You must know who your ideal client is.
2. Set expectations with your vendors to ensure they understand your criteria.
However, keep in mind that partner and vendor-supplied leads are like gravy on top of mashed potatoes. You must make the mashed potatoes yourself. They provide the gravy.
Consistency is the biggest challenge. If you send out 1,000 pieces of marketing materials and sit back and wait, you’ll be disappointed.
Marketing requires consistency and patience. If you don’t get results, don’t stop. Many Managed Service Providers are continually starting and stopping their efforts, and use the same tactics rather than trying new things.
The result is that they don’t get the clients they need. It takes more than a year to see results. You must stay the course.
Try using a 20/20 marketing plan. This is a rolling campaign that consists of 20 emails, phone calls or postcards a week. Just be sure that you have the staff to handle the clients that come in.
Remember to use the right marketing/sales approach for each lead. Think of this like a game of golf. You have different strategies per each hole, and 14 different golf clubs you can use. Customize your marketing according to the demographics you’re going after.
MSP businesses that serve one or two verticals do better than those that try to be everything for everyone.
Those that market to a single vertical consistently outperform their peers. If you want to make money in the MSP business, become a specialist in what you do.
Here are 4 ways to specialize:
If you do this, your MSP business will soar.
To make money, you must spend money. If you’re going to spend the money on marketing be sure you do it right and have the backup you need to follow through. You must get a payback from your marketing investment
10% or more investment for marketing is needed today. But most partners only spend 2 to 3%.
Forget the Sliver-Bullet theory. One marketing push won’t get you the clients you need. You must continually invest in marketing.
If you can spend $100K on a car, you can pay $20K for a sales event. Reassess your priorities.
Outsource calling isn’t magic. It’s a temporary solution to solve a problem.
It may bring you immediacy in volume, but you must build a sales process, execute it and follow up.
Build a sales machine for 5 years out. You must invest in the sales process in the background while you use these services.
If you don’t have a sales process in place, telemarketing won’t help. You need the process to follow up on your leads
You need a high-performance sales team.
Look for sales employees who are patient enough to coach and train others. Hiring a salesperson to be a sales manager doesn’t usually work. They aren’t the right types to bring your sales team along.
You need managers who can coach and follow a process. For sales, you can use the “A players.” Or find the C players and make them B players with coaching and training from your management.
Most MSP business owners hire sales professionals who “look like themselves.” This isn’t the right approach.
Onboarding is very important. One of the reasons people have nonproductive salespeople is because they weren’t onboarded correctly.
It’s your job to train them properly. 30-day training is needed to identify failure early on. You need a training program and process in place that holds your salespeople accountable.
If the salesperson you hire hasn’t completed 75% of their tasks in the first week, a red flag should go up. Paying close attention to new hires with onboarding, training, and validation is key.
If they can’t stand up in front of your president and sell the company, they aren’t capable. And, if they can’t hit targets, don’t keep them.
And don’t forget the emotional aspect of sales leadership. Your sales people must believe that the products and services you are providing are worthwhile.
They shouldn’t just push products and services. They must have the passion required to do the job. Make sure your salespeople have the right “DNA.”
Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL and Fort Erie, ON-based Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.