Anyone who grew up in the 1990s is probably familiar with the popular children’s book series Where’s Waldo? Each oversized book was filled with detailed illustrations of people gathered in wondrous worlds, challenging readers to find Waldo.
Like a Waldo illustration—where, despite his signature red-and-white-striped shirt, Waldo could be difficult to find—the market for managed service providers is remarkably dense. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd.
However, there are several things MSPs can do to make themselves more visible to potential customers—starting with refining a sales and marketing strategy by using the following five techniques:
In a crowded marketplace, customers are most likely to see the MSP that’s right in front of them. Cold calling might sound old-fashioned, but it remains an extremely effective sales strategy—especially for engaging the leaders of small- and medium-sized businesses, who often appreciate being approached by a live human being.
Of course, cold calling can come off as intrusive. The difference lies in your approach: Instead of focusing on yourself (i.e., what you’re selling), focus on the prospect (i.e., what their problems and pain points are, and how you can solve them). Highlight your benefits and align them to the customer’s specific needs—keeping in mind, for instance, that a law firm has different priorities than a medical practice.
Potential customers should be able to find you. If they Google MSPs and your website is listed on the tenth page of results, you’re losing out on sales leads. Invest ample time and resources in search engine optimization (SEO), because an Internet search is the first place most people turn to find service providers. Video, blogs and social media are some of the best tools to help move a website up to a higher position in search engine results; include them on your website, and add frequent updates.
Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn can be great sources to fill your sales funnel. By tweeting about your areas of expertise, for instance, you can build credibility with potential customers. Likewise, MSPs who contribute to conversations on LinkedIn’s Groups section, which hosts B2B discussion groups for virtually every industry and business interest out there, can build a virtual list of contacts who could one day become customers.
Social media can also help you foster one-to-one relationships. MSPs that interact with people on social media—responding to comments and promptly answering questions—show a commitment to personalized, responsive customer service.
Consider, for example, authoring free white papers and e-books that illuminate industry trends or present best practices for solving common customer challenges. When prospects register to download these resources, you can flag them as qualified leads. By helping prospects solve a small problem now, you’ll improve the chances you’ll be hired to solve a large problem later.
Sales should no more be left in the hands of technical staff than IT should be left in the hands of sales staff. The most successful MSPs have a separate team staffed with dedicated professionals who understand the finer points of sales and marketing, the same way the company’s technical staff understands technology’s various nuances. The resources required to hire and train these experts can be significant—but the return on investment can be, too.
Follow these five tips and you’ll be on the right track to setting yourself apart from the tough competition in the MSP space.