How Coaching Your Clients Leads To Higher MSP Profits (Pt. 1)

Coach Your MSP Clients How To Buy For Higher ProfitsToo often, business owners overlook the buying power in the clients they ALREADY have and are too focused on acquiring new ones.

So in this two-part series, I’m going to discuss how you can increase sales with your current clients and turn them into the clients you want. Let’s dig in…

Part 1 of Coach Your MSP Clients How To Buy For Higher Profits: Teach Your Clients How To Buy

I received several letters from American Express in the last month about using your Amex card to pay your taxes.

Honestly, it never occurred to me to do this, mostly because I’ve never been unable to pay my taxes. But I know a LOT of  people who are in that situation and have not thought about this as an option.

Which brings me to a key point: teaching your clients HOW TO BUY.

Years ago I sought out and purchased a phone system from a vendor, only to have my current IT company grouse at me for not buying through them.

I told them quite clearly they were idiots for not educating, reminding and pursuing ME to let me know they even offered that.

A BIG question you need to ponder: do your clients REALLY know all of the products and services you could sell them? Read full article and comment →

How A Strong Unique Selling Proposition Helps MSPs Market Themselves

At Rapid Implementation Workshop we cover the USP, or unique selling proposition, in detail: what it is, what it is not, how to develop it and how to use it in your sales and marketing to unseat incumbent providers, close more business and fight price sensitivity.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a USP here’s the short of it. It’s a one sentence statement explaining why a prospect should choose to do business with you versus any and every other option…including doing nothing.  An example that became famous was from Dominos Pizza. “Fresh hot pizza delivered to your door in under 30 minutes or its free!” 

More often than not, most IT services businesses do NOT have a USP and are largely a “me too” business that appears to be just like every other MSP they compete against. Because of this, they start from a weak position with no authority, which leads to difficulty in selling their services at prices even slightly higher than the competition’s.

After all, if Joe’s Computer Shack appears to be delivering managed services for $20 a seat less than you, why SHOULD prospects pay you more? While I understand there IS a legitimate difference in service, quality of delivery, etc., your PROSPECT doesn’t know.

Fast Response

Not too surprisingly, “fast response” is very often brought up as one of the key differentiators many have over their competition, and it IS a good one.  “Slow” to no response, dropped balls and poor communication are all the top reasons why businesses fire their IT company and look elsewhere. But if you’re going to claim THAT as all or part of your USP, you can’t be half in. Someone who is trained and managed needs to answer the phone LIVE, ideally 24/7, but definitely between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Read full article and comment →

What Are The Steps To Properly Brand My New Startup Company? (My Answer)

Two questions from Brad Ashmore, Practical Technology Services:

1. “Can you provide the steps to properly brand my new startup company?”

2. “What is the best way to find a qualified business partner to join me in this new venture?”

As a new startup, you have a special place in my heart because I’ve been in your shoes. And since you’re a newbie, I wanted to make sure I address both of these questions. First off, my best piece of advice I can give you is to figure out what your niche is going to be. The hardest thing to get rolling is a plain vanilla company trying to be all things to all people. One of the BEST things I did early on in my business was seek out a niche. It took me over a year of fumbling around before I found it, but it was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. Not only does marketing get easier, but your systems and processes can be scaled more effectively and profits are higher because you become more efficient. You can also become a true expert in delivering one type of result for one type of customer, making your expertise worth more (if you’re good, of course). All of my programs talk about researching your CUSTOMERS first. Since you’re a startup, you have the ADVANTAGE of choosing who you want to make your customer. My hope is that you see it that way and don’t dismiss the wisdom in my program by thinking you can’t use it because you don’t have any customers. You just need to decide upon and research the niche you choose. Read full article and comment →

When To STOP Marketing To Someone On Your List

Here’s a question I often get: “At what point should you stop marketing to someone on your list?” My personal opinion is that you never stop unless they specifically tell you to stop, give you reason to believe they will never buy from you or they give some indication that they aren’t the type of client you’d want to acquire. No point in shooting bullets at targets that, even if you hit them, don’t count for anything. But for most, leads are given up on way too soon. Considering the fact that most businesses are on a 3-5 year schedule to upgrade their server or network, you need to let a prospect “simmer” for at least that long before you can count them unconvertible.

In a business builder interview I did with Dean Jackson, he gave some powerful insight into this question. Dean has spent the greater part of his professional career developing marketing strategies for realtors. One of the strategies he teaches them is to use a monthly newsletter and/or postcard to stay in front of potential prospects so that when that prospect is ready to sell their house, they will think of that realtor and give them the business. Simple. Given the fact that most people don’t sell their house all that often, this question comes up frequently with his clients as well because sending a monthly MAILED newsletter year after year can get pricey.

But Dean shared that one of his clients who was excellent at tracking and reporting numbers showed him recently that only 5% of the leads they generate decide to list their home with his real estate practice in the first 3 months of showing interest. But, 10% would list with them within 3-6 months, and 40% would list with them in the 6-12 month range. Even more interesting is that 25% would list with them 12-18 months after their initial contact, and 20% after 18 months. That means a full 45% of the clients they acquired came in AFTER the SECOND year of marketing to them. If they gave up marketing to these leads after 3 months, they would be missing out on 95% of the business they could get. And given the fact that most real estate deals represent thousands of dollars in commission, I think it can easily be argued that the money invested over 2 years in monthly newsletters is a BARGAIN compared to the return. Read full article and comment →

Having Cojones Of Steel When Marketing Your Business

A few years back the Better Business Bureau cancelled one of my client’s memberships because they thought his marketing was “too aggressive.” Particularly his web site where he clearly and specifically stated why a prospect should choose his company over every other IT service company in the area (which I wrote for him). His reaction was the same as mine: Nuts to them. If anything, it validated what we were doing. In fact, their complaint wasn’t that our claims weren’t TRUE (they were) or even that they were getting complaints about it—their beef was that they deemed it “unfair.” Um, last time I checked, business is based on securing the biggest competitive advantage you can over your competition and then beating them over the head with it. I’ll play fair and honest in my dealings with customers, but I’m not pulling any punches when it comes to taking business away from a competitor—and offering better, more attractive and more valuable service IS fair and honest in business. (On a separate note, I think the BBB is one of the biggest scams going. Very similar to Mafia bosses selling protection. Who appointed those nitwits to be the police of what is and isn’t “fair” in business anyway?)

On this same note, take a look at the e-mail campaign (below) forwarded to me by my staff from the folks at Axcient, a backup vendor that recently hired me to do a webinar for their clients. During one of our prep meetings, the Zenith bond default had just happened and came up during our discussion. I recommended they use that as the key message in a marketing piece to steal Zenith’s clients who were already unhappy with the service, and now rightfully concerned about having their clients’ data under their care. Much to my delight they actually took my advice and sent out the e-mail you see here. It’s nice to see someone willing to be a bit ballsy in their marketing when most are trying to be completely non-offensive, plain vanilla bland so they don’t rock anyone’s boat. Just remember if your marketing doesn’t arouse an emotion on some level, it’s getting ignored.

Got Marketing Questions? Robin’s Got Answers…

Q: From John Micciche, Micciche Computer Services: “What’s the most common mistake business owners make that causes them to go out of business?”

A: While it seems an incredibly self-serving answer, ineffective or non-existent marketing to bring in new customers. Put another way, a complete lack of systems or process to generate sales and profits on a consistent basis. After all, I don’t know of too many IT firms making good money who go out of business.

In almost all cases, they run out of money. And when you’re just starting up a business, the single most important thing you need to figure out and validate is can I make money? Yet newbie business owners do everything BUT marketing. They work on their infrastructure, contracts, systems, operations, etc., THEN marketing and sales comes in as an afterthought. Why is this? Because marketing—or bringing in new customers profitably—is one of the hardest things to do. It’s also highly unpopular because most people are too fearful to sell and have grossly negative beliefs about selling that are rooted in a fear of asking others for money.

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The Biggest Revenue Opportunity Overlooked By Most IT Businesses

Just recently I hired a personal trainer (a.k.a. “Mean Old Luke”). Nothing too surprising here EXCEPT that I’ve been a member of two gyms in this area, one for 2 years and the other for over 4 years—both who sell personal training. Yet neither of them has ever attempted to try and upsell me on any of the other services they offer including babysitting, swimming lessons, tanning and supplements. There may be more services I could list here but I don’t know about them. I’m also a former paying client of dozens of other service-based businesses in this area that I’ve stopped buying from, never to receive a simple postcard, newsletter or other outreach to a) try and get me back or b) figure out why I stopped buying.

This is a HUGE, glaring mistake made by the majority of businesses out there that cause them to leave thousands of dollars in potential sales on the table. That’s why I don’t want to hear any whining and complaining from businesses that “things are slow” when they’ve not lifted a finger to stay connected with their clients. And with social media and e-mail being free, there’s zero excuse for this.

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How To Become A Celebrity IT Consultant In Your Area

Below is an outstanding marketing strategy being implemented by Producers Club Member and former Genius of the Month Pam Viveiros, co-owner of ThinkTech Computers. Pam has secured an AM radio spot as the fresh new “Kim Komando,” answering technology-related questions, and has set up a Facebook fan page with links back to the radio station for content, positioning herself as a celebrity expert on the topic of IT.

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