One of the questions I get all the time from MSPs is, “Robin, should I charge for IT assessments?”
Sometimes they’re called network audits, risk assessments, cybersecurity assessments, whatever it is. There’s a lot of controversy out there, and some people are saying you absolutely should not do these for free and you should not give them away.
And there are times when that makes sense. But I think before you jump to the conclusion that you should charge for them or you shouldn’t charge for them, you have to understand this is basically a tool. And there are two ways you can use this tool to generate more sales.
So, I coach my clients to use risk assessments in marketing as a lead generation offer.
It’s a way of getting a prospect to engage with you that lowers the threshold they have to jump over to engage with you. It’s just like offering free information, a free report, an e-book. Giving it away for free is a good thing because it helps generate leads. The minute you cross over into charging for something, you will get fewer leads, making selling more difficult.
Now, I understand the argument could be if you charge for an e-book or an assessment or whatever the person you get will be more qualified and therefore more serious about hiring you. So you’re going to have a better chance of closing that deal. And that is true. But the other side of that, you have to realize, is that if you are charging for an offer, whether it’s an e-book or a seminar or even a free assessment, you have just raised the bar.
And now it’s not just a lead generation offer. Now you’re getting someone to purchase something, which will reduce the number of people.
And it’s not necessarily a bad idea to give things away for free to get people to engage with you. I mean, this is a standard offering. If you look at chiropractors, they offer free exams and X-rays all the time to get people into their practice. Financial advisors offer free assessments or similar consultations like a financial plan assessment. Tax preparers offer free tax plans or tax return reviews. And they’re doing this, not because they are stupid and because it’s a bad idea and they don’t know what else to do. They’re doing it because offering something of high value for free opens the floodgates and allows you to get more prospects. More leads.
And they’re not all necessarily going to be non-buyers. I don’t buy that for a second. Now, when you offer something for free, you do need a process, and you do the assessment, or you give them the free thing, it has to be appropriately engineered so that you get more commitment, you move that prospect from being maybe a shy yes to hell yes, and they want to hire you all. That is true.
But again, when you’re thinking about what kind of offers am I going to make to the marketplace, any time you are charging for something, the difficulty of getting someone to go up goes up exponentially.
Like even in my business, if we decide we’re just going to charge $47 for a webinar, we get fewer people. The difficulty of getting people to sign up for that webinar goes up exponentially. Yeah, the people who show up are more committed, I get it. But you’re reducing the number of people that were actually going to sign up by as much as 50-60%. Whereas if I offer it for free, I could get 100 people signed up instead of 20.
Those are 100 people that I could get more leads and opportunities with. But, yes, some of them won’t be as committed because maybe they’re just early in the sales process. They’re just starting to kind of think about making a change or buying something. But, by getting them into that webinar or doing this assessment, we’re getting them to move closer to us.
So again, there are times when it’s appropriate to charge.
And I would say, for example, if you’re doing an in-depth risk assessment, something that is a reliance opinion, where it’s for compliance or something to that degree, and it’s going to involve a lot of work, it’s going to involve a lot of hours, then it’s perfectly appropriate to charge for that. But you’ve got to make sure that you’re dealing with a qualified lead. Because then it becomes a sale, not necessarily a lead generation offer.
And again, we offer an audit or an assessment for free because it’s a good offer.
When you’re making an offer to a prospect, it has to transcend immediate needs. So, if you’re calling on the marketplace or sending out whatever kind of marketing pieces you’re sending out and you’re saying, “Hey, we do IT support and services, managed services, cybersecurity, we’re really, really good at it. Do you want to talk? Do you want to schedule an appointment?” You know, a lot of people are going to say, “No, I’m just fine.”
But if we offer something like a risk assessment to see how well your current IT company is protecting you. To ask, are you being backed up and genuinely secure from ransomware? When we offer that sort of score or risk assessment, somebody who might not be actively looking right now to change IT providers, who might have a little dissatisfaction, who might have a sneaking suspicion their current IT company is not doing a good job, will say yes to that. Because there’s value in it, it transcends immediate need, and there’s a much higher perceived value than just sitting down and having a sales meeting about you hiring us for IT.
So again, that’s one of the reasons why we use audits and risk assessments. It’s a good offer. It transcends immediate need. It has a high perceived value where even if the prospect doesn’t buy, they feel that meeting with you and going through this process will deliver value. And if you’re doing it right, it should. And so again, you get more people to engage with you. You get more people to sit down with you.
Doing that kind of risk assessment also allows you to wedge out the incumbent provider and other providers.
As you know, for you to be the MSP of choice, you’ve got to get rid of the incumbent provider or the current person, whoever is in place right there because they’re not going to hire two MSPs. So, by doing this kind of risk assessment, you’re going to be able to wedge out the incumbent provider. You’re going to be able to diagnose before you prescribe. It also allows you not just to go in and say, “Hey, everything’s screwed up.” Suppose you’re using some of the assessment tools out there today, like RapidFire Tools or Galactic Scan, ID Agent Dark Web. In that case, it gives you ammunition to add more value than only saying, “Hey, Mr. Business Owner, your IT company is screwing up. They’re not doing a good job for you.” I mean, if you’re selling them stuff, they’re going to expect you to say that.
But if you can show potential customers scans and results and low scores by third party auditing software to show them that they have vulnerabilities and they have neglected areas of their network, that provides you with more concrete evidence in wedging out that incumbent so that they realize they’re not “fine.”
They want to bring someone like you in to hire them. So again, before you jump to the conclusion that you should not give away an assessment for free again, you have to understand that it’s not just “let’s offer it for free and be done with it,” but there are specific and strategic reasons why you’d want to give it away for free. To open up the floodgates, get more leads, and have more engagement coming in.
Whereas if you’re charging for it, you’re going to cut that lead flow off. And from my experience with most MSPs, because they don’t have marketing systems and don’t have a lot of inbound leads, I’m going to recommend that you offer it for free. Use it to get more appointments, conversations, and engagements and create that pipeline of your getting-ready-to-buy buyers.
So, don’t just jump to free assessments are bad and paid assessments are good or vice versa.
You’ve got to understand the reason, the situation, the purpose of why we’re doing it. And it has to be done strategically, not just in a one size fits all approach to marketing strategy.