I’m A Huge Skeptic About Robin (Or At Least I Was)
I love order in my life. I’m very analytical and pride myself on running a professional business with a “get it done right the first time” mantra. This probably comes from years working on computer networks where order is inherent in the design of a well-run system. Whatever it might be, I’ve always related to my more analytical side.
That was until the day Robin told me to put a crisp dollar bill in the mail.
I’ll admit that going into this program I was dubious, skeptical and thought maybe the tactics and techniques were useless gimmicks akin to snake-oil salesmen setting up their tents in the town square.
I was so wrong.
We Had Floated Along For 27 Years On Word-Of-Mouth “Advertising”
I took over management of Computer Magic last December. I was overwhelmed and afraid of the prospect of running a company with five employees. We had enough clients to keep us busy, but we had no growth and had floated for 27 years on the strength of word-of-mouth over having a marketing system.
We were doing just fine, but we weren’t thriving. Like a pond in midsummer, we were stagnant, lacking any oxygen of fresh new clients. We were looking back, not forward, and, combined with the loss of a few clients last year, we were facing a downward trajectory.
Stuck on a shelf in our office was a relatively unused five-year-old copy of the Toolkit. It was this huge binder with a bunch of documents with verbiage that seemed oversimplified and silly. When I read through the binder, I never believed that this kind of content would resonate with our clients. Everything was so informal. We were a professional MSP with over 25 years of experience. This kind of language ran against our company’s ethos. I puffed out my chest, believed that marketing like this wouldn’t work and decided I didn’t want to be a part of this system at all.
Fortunately, my analytical side came to the rescue. I went online to research Robin’s testimonials. I was stunned. The results were clear. Hundreds of MSPs were saying the same thing: “It works. Trust the system; even if you don’t think it will work, it will.”
I was dumbfounded.
After seeing these testimonials, I sent her a direct message on LinkedIn. I told her I wanted to join Producers Club right away. Robin gave me the best advice ever: “Start at the beginning.”
The beginning for me was at March’s Rapid Implementation Workshop in Nashville.
From Skeptic To Optimist
I was still a skeptic. I thought to myself, “Is this really for me?” I desperately hoped I hadn’t wasted a bunch of the company’s money for what could be a zero-return investment.
It takes trillions of drops of water to erode a mountain face, but it took far fewer words in class for Robin to convince me of the power of her system. What she said made sense: “Focus on your verticals.” “Target the RIGHT clients.” “Invest time in your old clients for new services.”
The father of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, once wrote, “We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” I had resisted marketing within myself and had driven the company into stagnation, not focusing on building the best clients for our business. Since March, I’ve been on this incredible journey from critic, to skeptic, to believer. Now marketing is the only thing I think about.
The Power Of Accountability
When people think about Accountability Groups, they think about weight loss, self-help or addiction recovery. In reality, we all need accountability for helping us keep our personal and professional goals on track. People are community-driven. This basic understanding of human psychology applies to every facet of our personal and business lives. We want to belong. We want to feel connected. We want to feel supported. My accountability came through two entities: Rapid Accountability Group and “The Robinators.”
Initially, the concept of an Accountability Group working this closely together was foreign to me. Rapid Accountability Group has been one of the most blessed opportunities for me. Meeting and collaborating with like-minded people is truly invaluable. They’ve helped me define my USP, focus in on my target market and pushed me to keep checking off tasks on my implementation checklist. One thing was certain: I didn’t want to show up on our weekly call without progress because I didn’t want to let my group, coaches and myself down. The Accountability Group has been a huge motivating factor in all of this.
From doing the workshop assignments and from the support I’ve received through my Rapid Accountability Group and The Robinators, my company has been going through a rapid change in a short amount of time. We’ve had really transformative moments getting back in touch with our current clients, evaluating where they are and also figuring out who is the best fit for our company. We’ve taken four distinct approaches in this transformational process: E-mail Marketing, Direct Mail Marketing, Website Marketing and Redefining Our Ideal Customer Base.
The “Quick Shot” E-mails That Changed Everything
E-mail #1: My 10-Word E-mail. One of the first things Robin made me do was to send this 10-word e-mail to all my unconverted leads.
Within five minutes of sending the e-mail, I received a response from a client we had approached before without ever closing a deal. I ended up setting an appointment to go over his server upgrade. This meeting would also allow me to discuss our Gold Managed Services Plan, which is ultimately what I wanted for the client.
Using the skills I learned from my Rapid Accountability Group, I ran a security assessment on their network before our meeting. This created an opening to discuss how our Managed Services Plan would benefit their business. During the meeting I presented the security assessment and put a heavy emphasis on cyber security. The client did not have an active backup solution or cyber security solution, and their server hardware was very out-of-date. Further, they were not patching their systems, which presented me with a great opportunity to discuss how our Gold Managed Services Plan would resolve this issue for them. I also referenced recent cyber-attacks to show the prospect the severity of the situation. As a municipality, they are a prime target for cybercriminals.
In just one 30-minute meeting, I ended up selling them:
- Office 365, a new server, multiple new workstations and monitors, for a total of $15,000 in onetime sales.
- Our Gold Managed Services Plan @ $780/month.
E-mail #2. In the second e-mail Robin had me send out, we focused on our Gold Managed Services Plan. The first response I received was from an existing client that’s been on break-fix with us for the past nine years. We’ve tried repeatedly to get them on our managed services plan but they refused. I received a reply within five minutes. The owner wanted to schedule the meeting right away to discuss our Gold Managed Services Plan, our highest tier.
During our first meeting, they were still leaning toward our Silver Plan. Then, after consulting with my new Accountability Group, we devised a format to present the findings of my assessment to this client (thanks to Scott Beck!).
I followed this format and did the following:
– I broke down the cost of break-fix, Silver and then our Gold plan.
– I looked through the client’s service bills spanning the past 12 months, and then averaged their monthly service bill, including their time and materials cost.
By the time I was done, the three partners were selling my Gold solution to themselves. I simply sat back and thought to my myself: “My God, I can’t believe this is happening!”
I ended up selling the three partners our Gold plan, which increased our MRR by $1,246 per month.
The Godfather Campaign That Generated 9 Leads, 3 Sales Appointments And $3,872 Of New MRR
After reviewing several campaigns, I decided upon “The Godfather Campaign” (Marketing Example #3). I sent out multiple batches of letters to manufacturers and law firms.
Here’s a summary of my results:
- Manufacturers Batch 1 (50 letters sent out) Generated three leads and one appointment from a manufacturer. New MRR Added: $1,313 per month.
- Law Firms Batch 1 (50 letters sent out) Generated four leads but only one appointment. The law firm is going on Gold with us for 15 PCs and one server. New MRR Added: $1,514 per month.
- Manufacturing Batch 2 (50 letters sent out) Generated two more leads and one appointment. The manufacturer is going with our Gold plan for eight PCs and one server. New MRR Added: $1,045 per month.
The Bad Date Campaign That Generated A 7% Response Rate (But No Sales… Yet)
My second direct mail campaign was the “Bad Date Letter”, which offers two free hours of support over a sequence of three letters.
I only sent this campaign out to 100 prospects (50 manufacturers and 50 attorneys) so far and have generated seven leads to date, but no closed sales or appointments…yet.
Robin tells me a 7% response rate to a cold list on direct mail is pretty awesome, so I guess I’ll keep at it with this one!
My Phone Follow-Up Fail
For the above campaigns, I was instructed to follow up two to three days after sending out each letter. I thought this would be easy. I was, again, very wrong. The second I picked up the phone, I started shaking. I truly have never been that nervous. I let the nerves get the best of me. I had a script to read from but I found myself fumbling all over the conversation, improvising and not reading from the script even though it was right in front of me. I found myself talking very fast because I wanted to get off the phone as quickly as possible. When I reached voice mail I was relieved.
My follow-up calls amounted to nothing and the voice mails I left went unanswered. This style just didn’t work for me because I was too uncomfortable and not confident enough in what I was doing.
I knew I had to come up with another solution. From Robin’s training, I remembered that she had talked about touching the prospect from all possible angles: phone, mail, e-mail, social media, etc. I formulated an e-mail instead, which landed four more appointments that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise!
Would I call prospects again? Of course. I think the phone follow-up was the absolute hardest thing for me during this whole journey. I don’t think I’d look forward to it, but I see its value in retrospect.
Finding The “Right Fit” 1,412 Prospects For My Company
Before working with Robin, I thought we should go after anybody that wanted to work with us, and that the broader our approach, the more results we’d yield. Sadly, this was far from the truth. Robin taught me the importance of concentrating my efforts and resources on a small, well-defined target market. I decided that we’d be going after manufacturers within a 40-mile radius of Madison, WI, that have at least one server and five to 50 workstations. Our ideal customer has to be small enough to not have a full-time IT department, but large enough to be able to pay for our services.
I finally understand that we cannot be all things to all people. We need to talk to our ideal customers in a language they understand, and present solutions to problems they are familiar with and face day-to-day. At the core of this is the idea that we needed to know our customers better and be more capable of relating to their needs.
In our marketing, we’ve stopped telling them what we can do, and started talking to them about specific challenges they are facing in their own businesses.
Know Your Customer, Grow Your List
Accurately defining our new customer allowed me to approach the “Deep Dive on List Building” lesson and really go after compiling my master list. Lists may seem like a never-ending process, but there is a true, long-term benefit to this. When you import that list into a data management system, like Infusionsoft, you then create a database with which to collect and manage your customer development data. No one really likes list building, but there is this element of Sherlock Holmes in putting your list together. Sherlock Holmes is known for seeing things other people don’t and connecting dots that most people wouldn’t put together. Finding my ideal customer meant I needed to think outside the box to find out where they are and who they are.
My path to list building was twisty-turvy, involving government agencies, county census data and a “clandestine” mutually beneficial meet-up with a local librarian. Here’s how it went down:
- Navigated to https://www.zip-codes.com/zip-code-radius-finder.asp?zipMilesLow=0&zipMilesHigh=30&zip1=53716&srch=Do+Radius+Search to find all counties in a 40-mile radius of my office.
- Using http://www.melissadata.com/lookups/sic.asp I was able to look up the SIC code for every relevant manufacturing business I could target.
- Going back to http://www.melissadata.com/ I was able to drill down into each SIC for my state and relevant county that’s in a 40-mile radius.
- I concluded that there are 1,412 manufacturers fitting my target market within a 40-mile radius of Madison, WI.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
My analytical side wanted to know exactly what the numbers showed for all this work. Just five months into this process with Robin, we have doubled our sales leads and more than tripled appointments compared to all last year. On top of that, our MRR is already up 27% and sales are up 85% compared to the same time frame last year.
Now, I’m not going to say that every day has been easy. There have been some ups and downs. It has been challenging to bring our staff on board with focusing their attention on incorporating marketing into their client relationship building. Though I’m a convert to this system, I still have heart pangs about some of Robin’s tactics.
Some days I think, “There is no way our potential client is going to think this is okay.” But I committed myself to trusting the process. And the “strange” thing is that it just keeps on working.
People let down their guard. These marketing tactics captivate them in some manner. I put my trust in Robin. She’s the expert in marketing. Each new success in the process continues to shift my mindset. I understand now that marketing and sales are essential to the core growth of the business. You can’t fall back on referrals and expect to thrive.
I keep my eyes on the numbers on a daily basis. From Boot Camp, I’ve implemented Gino Wickman’s VT/O into my company, and with that we’ve set one-year, three-year and 10-year revenue goals. My Quarterly Lead Generation Marketing Plan is up-to-date and keeps me on track to achieve the goal I’ve set for my company.
To put it lightly, big, positive changes have happened in my company, and I’m so grateful to Robin, my Accountability Groups and my staff for making these changes possible.