I Had Peaked At $340,000 In Annual Revenue
The year was 2009. After 10 years in business, my break-fix IT business had peaked at $340,000 in gross revenue. The rollercoaster of waiting for something to break so I could go fix it was exhausting. Something had to change, and that’s when I finally made the decision to go all in on managed services, launching a new company, eTrepid, and setting a goal to reach the $5 million mark within five years.
When I say “all in” on managed services, I really mean “all in.” For my employees AND clients, there was no choice. If they wanted to stay with me, they had to make the leap. This decision cost me a few clients AND a stubborn employee. And my revenue actually DROPPED to $240,000 my first year as an MSP. Things had to get a bit worse before they got better. In year two as an MSP, we nearly tripled to $730,000, and in year three, with the help of my first salesperson, we nearly hit the million-dollar mark. We were on our way!
If One Salesperson Was Good, A Sales And Marketing TEAM Would Be Great, Right?
My thought was, if I could hit the million-dollar mark with one sales rep, I should hit 2 million with two. I discovered real fast that the math doesn’t quite work that way. In year four as an MSP, my growth stalled. I attempted to jump-start sales by hiring an account manager and then a marketing person. We broke the million-dollar mark that year but just barely. After an up-and-down year with my sales and marketing team, by the next spring all of them were gone and the business plateaued at this mark for years. While my business has provided me and, quite frankly, my employees a comfortable livelihood, it was far from reaching my goals and certainly not going to fund my retirement.
I Was Staring In The Face Of A 20% Dip In Business To Start The Year
Six years ago, after being introduced by a business acquaintance, we had signed a 25-employee single-location dental office. This was our largest MSP client out of the gate. Fast-forward to January of this year and that single large client had expanded to five locations and over 120 employees. We were an integral part of their business and they in turn represented 20% of our revenues. The head doctor commented that, without us, he could not have achieved such success. Late last year, I was hit with the realization that my top client was in the process of selling the business. I was staring right at a 20% loss in business to start the year. Finding enough clients to replace that revenue would be difficult if not impossible for my anemic sales and marketing efforts. The chances of finding one client – let alone enough smaller ones – to offset this loss were practically null. We were going to start the year right back where we were six years ago.
“Run Away, Run Away As Fast As You Can”
A few years ago, I attended a conference where Robin was a keynote speaker. I listened to her and agreed with practically everything she had to say. I felt like she had studied me and my business and was using it as an example from the front of the room. Apparently, everyone else in the room thought the same thing because after she spoke a herd of IT business owners rushed to a little six-foot table in the back of the room to sign up for the Toolkit. Being a pessimist, I called up a consultant I had hired and asked what he thought. He said, and I quote: “Run away, run away as fast as you can.” And that is exactly what I did.
Then, while at a conference last summer talking with a group of peers, I listened in as one of the group was querying another about his experience with the Toolkit. He was a Producers Club member and raved about how it had propelled him from $1 million to $3 million in a little over a year. That’s all the proof that I needed. Upon my return to the office, I called up Robin. She didn’t answer, but I did speak to some folks who pointed me in the right direction. I was off to Nashville for Robin’s Rapid Implementation Workshop!
Our First Marketing Campaign Generated One Lead, 8 Testimonials And Saved Our Oldest Client From Leaving
My first campaign resulted in eight testimonials. The second, sent out on day one of Robin’s in-person workshop, resulted in one referral and, more importantly, I also found out that another client was NOT willing to refer us but WAS looking for a new IT company. This came as a shocking blow as it was my oldest client. I immediately followed up with an e-mail and scheduled a meeting. During that meeting, I found we had not been servicing this client as well as I thought. This ended up being my first client QBR, and what an eye-opener it was. I decided at that point the entire team had to be part of sales. After the meeting, we performed an afteraction report with the team to address all the issues with this client and ultimately saved them. TCV = $216,000. Our first win from the training!
At this point, I had seen enough and went all in. In addition to attending every weekly training call, I quickly completed Robin’s 30- and 90-day implementation checklists. As a part of these checklists, we implemented our new Robinized website, started mailing our print newsletter and implemented Infusionsoft CRM, AppointmentCore and Zoom Webinars (taking advantage of Infusionsoft’s integration capabilities).
The Quarterly Business Review – Our #1 Secret Ingredient
No marketing plan is complete without an assessment of cross-sell/upsell opportunities with your current client base. We evaluated every client agreement to verify what was included and identify the services clients did not sign up for. We found that “Hassle-Free IT” in many cases was “Free IT.” We went to work plugging the holes, correcting the billing and ensuring that our technicians were encoding things properly. By doing this, the increased agreement gross profitability (AGP) and out-of-scope T&M billing completely offset the loss of our one big client. We didn’t need to replace the client – we did it by increasing profit margins and revenues from existing clients and did not have to increase prices. AGP grew by 4%, keeping the gross profit consistent as revenue dropped. At the same time, T&M billing increased by 500%, from $2,100 per month before attending the Rapid Implementation Workshop to over $11,000 per month. Additionally, we identified over $600,000 in upsell/cross-sell opportunities for this year while completing the QBR preparation. To date, we’ve written 67 proposals to existing clients, winning 29 of them (a 43% close rate). Since implementing a focused and detailed QBR process, we have already conducted 15 QBRs, presenting 31 proposals and closing 22 new deals (a 74% close rate). In total, from these QBRs alone, we have added $5,982 in monthly recurring revenue and $39,016.04 in onetime project revenue. If this close rate is sustained, we will end up adding over $444,000 in revenue from existing clients this year alone.
Building An Irresistible USP
When I first heard the term “USP,” I thought, “What the heck is that?” After working with Robin and her team, we sat down internally and began brainstorming on things we thought were unique about our company. We were able to pare it down to 10 solid ideas, but we weren’t ready to go to market quite yet. We ran these 10 points past several clients and confirmed with these clients that all 10 would be important in selecting an IT company, but even more importantly, an IT company that had all 10 in place would be hard to pass up. And finally, our USP was born.
Our Magical Website
Our new website went live on January 9, with SEO optimization shortly thereafter. January 21 was a magical day as our Google Analytics lit up. Ever since that day, we have been averaging 25 new visitors a day, who visit two pages on average and stay for nearly two minutes. Prior to that we had one or two visitors a week, visiting one page and leaving in less than 30 seconds. We now receive on average four calls per day and have generated six new solid client opportunities in just the first two months after going live.
New Leads Have Doubled Since We Attended Rapid Implementation Workshop
In all of last year, we had a total of 11 new client opportunities. New opportunities were precious to us, because they were RARE! In just three months since we started with Robin’s Rapid Implementation Workshop, in addition to all the new business we’ve generated from QBRs, we’ve also generated six new client opportunities and have already doubled our average number of opportunities per month, without even a huge focus in this area! Just six months in, this has already been an incredible journey. We have improved in every area, with better and better results every campaign. This is an exciting time for us as I finally feel like the floodgates are about to open.
We greatly appreciate all that the RR team has done for us. Staying on top of us, driving us to complete the checklist and participate in the meetings, and being available when needed. You have changed our business for the best!
Side Note: Tom’s story of a consultant telling him to “run” from hiring me is all too common. Funny how I have that effect on other marketing and sales consultants in this industry who sulk around in the dark, whispering rumors and spreading lies. This person, like many others, is one I thought I had a productive relationship with, have helped and have referred people to, who took advantage of my goodwill in the most disingenuous way, both to me and HIS client, who could have greatly benefited from working with me years ago. A snake. I don’t expect “competition” to be friends or to even like me, but if you seek me out and extend the hand of friendship and collaboration, and I accept and invite you into my home, at least have enough professional integrity and character to not poison my dog and pee in the plants.