Episode 101: Why your MSP’s marketing follow-up should never stop

Episode 101: Why your MSP’s marketing follow-up should never stop

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Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 101: Why your MSP’s marketing follow-up should never stop
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In this week’s episode

  • Are you one of the wasteful 48 per cent? Stats show that 48 per cent of people waste valuable sales opportunities by not following up with a prospect. This week Paul explains how you can fix this and increase sales for your MSP
  • Also on this week’s show, how to help your team to solve their problems without getting bogged down in problem-solving. When someone presents you with an issue, there’s a great technique for dealing with them effectively
  • Plus there’s an extremely valuable conversation with Paul’s featured guest, all about improving your SEO and the changes that Google have been making (these might have impacted your MSP’s website search ranking)

Featured guest

Alex Robinson is this week's featured guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Thank you to Alex Robinson from Novus Digital for joining Paul to talk about SEO and the changes Google have been making.

Launched in 2019, Novus Digital are a digital marketing agency dedicated to delivering commercially viable SEO to SMEs in the UK and US. We pride ourselves on being able to deliver value at almost any budget with open, tangible SEO methodology.

Connect with Alex on LinkedIn.

Show notes

  • Out every Tuesday on your favourite podcast platform
  • Presented by Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert
  • In discussing how to use a ‘telephone person’, Paul mentioned the full guide that featured in Episode 72
  • Register for a free copy of Paul’s book
  • Thank you to Nick Moran from Powernet for recommending the book Legacy by James Kerr
  • In the next show on October 26th Paul will be joined by email marketing specialist Liz Wilcox, talking about how to get people to open and take action on an email newsletter
  • Got a question from the show? Email Paul directly: hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
Hey, there. And welcome to episode 101 of the podcast. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.

Alex Robinson:
Core Web Vitals are the core technical indicators that Google uses to determine where your website’s going to appear.

Paul Green:
We’re also going to be talking about why you need to have more follow up in your marketing and in your sales. Most sales are not made in the initial burst of contact. They’re made through follow up. And there’s lots of different follow-up you need, some of it before you even speak to the prospect and much of it after you do. We’ll talk about that later in the show. We’ve also got successful MSP owner, Nick Moran, back on the show this week. He’s got a great book recommendation for you later on.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
Problems, problems, problems. Doesn’t it just sometimes feel like you are just there for other people to come and unburden themselves of their problems to try and make them your problems? And I don’t mean clients here because that’s what they pay you to do. I mean your staff, maybe your partner. And I mean business partner, as well as life partner. Maybe even your family, they’re just hitting you with problems.

Paul Green:
Now, the reason that people come to you with problems is because actually, you are a good problem solver. This is one of the traits of being a business owner. Isn’t it? We can take almost any problem and we can find the solution for it. All of those people that come to us with problems, they know we’re a problem solver. And that’s why they keep coming to us with problems. In fact, in that sentence I just said, is the ultimate solution to this problem, which we’ll talk about in a little while.

Paul Green:
Now, the challenge I believe, is that when people come to you with their problem, they want to spend a few minutes describing the problem itself. And then they want to spend about 30 minutes talking about how they feel about that problem. Do you find that? They’ll come to you with the problem. And then, the emotional stuff comes out and it’s all about this happened and that happened. And then this was a problem. And that was a problem.

Paul Green:
And it’s all drama and drama and drama and drama. And you’ve got a couple of options open to you. You can either cut through that. And I’m the kind of personality that I would tend to do that, particularly if it’s someone that does that to me on a regular basis. Now, I don’t actually have many people coming to me with problems because of a technique I’m going to give you in a second.

Paul Green:
But when people do come to me with problems, if they’re a repeat offender, then I will tend to cut off the emotional stuff and, “Come on, crack on. Let’s get back to the problem in hand.” Which I realise does have an emotional impact on the people that I work with. I try not to do that very often. Only with the very, very repeat offenders.

Paul Green:
Sometimes when someone comes to you with a problem and they want to talk about how they feel about that problem, sometimes you just need to be a counsellor and you need to listen to them. And accept that they need to get this off their chest. It’s got this issue, by the time it’s reached you, it’s just a big deal in their hearts, in their emotions. And they want to exhaust themselves. They want to let the whole thing splurge out.

Paul Green:
I think actually, probably a more effective way to deal with that. If you’re happy being a problem solver, is to tell the people who bring you problems, what the ground rules are for dealing with those problems. And maybe even you’d say to them, “Hey, did you know, when you come to me with a problem, you often bring the problem and your feelings about the problem? We need to separate those two out. We need to deal with just the problem and not your feelings. Because I can acknowledge your feelings, but that will remove a whole stack of valuable time where we could be fixing the problem.”

Paul Green:
I mean, that’s one way you could do it. I think a better way really, is to push the problem back onto that person. And that’s what I do. And I don’t just do it with my team, not that my team do this very often to me. But I will do this with my child, I’ll do this with my friends. I’ll do this with almost anyone where I don’t have a clear mandate to help them in some way.

Paul Green:
If someone comes to me with a problem. Let’s say they say to me, “Hey, the so-and-so document isn’t working properly.” My first reply will be, “What do you think is the answer to that?” Because 99 times out of 100, they know what the answer is. They just don’t have the confidence to actually take that answer and run with it. Or they want to cover their own back by checking with the boss. A hell of a lot of that goes on in businesses all over the a globe.

Paul Green:
Let’s listen to that sentence again. “What do you think is the answer?” Now, there are times of course, that people bring you genuine problems that they genuinely don’t have a clue to solve. But for those people who are just coming for an endorsement from you, what you are doing is pushing not just the problem, but the mental burden of solving the problem back on that person. Because if you are one of those people that allows other people to interrupt them all day long with all of their problems, the mental burden for you is just huge.

Paul Green:
I’m only 47, but you know I have to guard my mental energy very carefully throughout the day. And I have a whole series of things put in place to stop people stealing my mental energy. In fact, happening to me in the evenings now. My daughter is starting big school. She’s at what we call secondary school here in the UK. And she’s gone from having an hour of homework a week to having what seems like two hours of homework every night.

Paul Green:
Straight after school, when she gets back, she normally gets in the house around about 4:30 PM and she’ll have a snack, sit down to do her homework. And that’s where the barrage of questions start. And I have learned very, very quickly not to do high mental energy activities from that 4:30 to about six o’clock period. Otherwise, I’m just not getting anything done at any quality because I’m being constantly interrupted by someone who’s got problems.

Paul Green:
And do you know what? The number of times I have to say to her, “What do you think the answer is?” And she’s like, “Oh, well I think it’s so-and-so.” And she’s got the answer. But here’s the thing, I’m not going to stop saying that. I don’t use the exact words every time, obviously, because she would soon spot that pattern. That every single time where I can see, she probably does know the answer, I just push that problem back onto her. I’m preserving my own mental energy and making sure her mental energy is the one that’s being expended, solving her own problems.

Paul Green:
You should do this with your team as well. It’s a really hard habit to get into. But you know what? Try it today. For every problem that’s brought to you ask them, “What do you think the answer is?” Try it all of today. See how it goes. You might feel a bit guilty at first, a bit like you’re not being very supportive. Actually, you are being more supportive by asking them what they think the answer is. You are validating them. You are showing that, yes, they probably have got the right answer and you trust them to make a decision and take action.

Paul Green:
I’d much rather my team and anyone I work with made a decision and took action, even if it was the wrong decision. Because what would be worse than them making the wrong decision and taking the wrong action, would be no decision being made at all. You know what? When you’re surrounded by good people, 99% of the time, they make the right decision. And the 1% they don’t, hey, we can go and fix that. It’s very easy to fix. It’s not like we are doctors or anything important like that. What do you think is the answer? Try it today, try it tomorrow. See if you could try it for a month. It could become a very, very powerful habit to protect you from other people’s problems.

Voiceover:
Here’s this week’s clever idea.

Paul Green:
Most MSPs suffer from a problem called followup failure. This is where you either have no followup or very inconsistent and intermittent followup to your leads, your prospects and the people that you’ve had sales meetings. You’ll know that this is you. If you are only doing followup activities to warm up your leads and to chase the sales. If you’re only doing those some days and not other days, then you have a followup failure.

Paul Green:
Whereas if you are doing marketing activity 5, 6, 7 days a week, where you are following up with your leads, with your prospects. And basically, there’s marketing activity to remind them that you are around and that you are trying to build a relationship, then you don’t have a followup failure, which is great. Because one of the core problems we have when trying to persuade to switch from their incumbent MSP over to you, is that people only buy when they are ready to buy.

Paul Green:
To be in the chance of getting the sale, you’ve got to be in front of the right people at the right time. And in my view, it’s kind of crazy to spend money getting a lead and then not follow-up enough so that you are in, in front of that lead at that person at the point that they are actually ready to have a conversation. Here’s what you should do instead. And here’s how to do it.

Paul Green:
Now, many people swap these terms around, but for this bit of the podcast, I just want to define the terms that I’m about to use. When I talk about a lead, I mean someone who’s taken the very first step towards buying from your MSP. It’s a very low commitment step. Perhaps they’ve just connected to you on LinkedIn or they’ve been through your data capture and they’re in your email database, but that is a lead. If there is a way for you to reach them and they’re vaguely listening, then they are a lead.

Paul Green:
Now, when I talk about a prospect, I mean someone who’s taken on another step. They’ve shown a particular interest in talking to you and they’ve had some kind of more in depth contact with you. Maybe it was a video call. Maybe you’ve had a meeting or maybe there’s some kind of quotational proposal out there. And of course, we all know what clients are. Clients buy Porsches. And yes, Justin, you can turn that one into a t-shirt if you want to.

Paul Green:
This is a slightly simplified sales funnel, but you’ve got lead, which goes on to become a prospect which goes on to become an active client. There is actually another stage. I have a couple of stages I’ve missed out, just to keep this one simple. But what we’re really aiming for is a bonded client. The bonded client is the one that stays with you for years and years, and years, because they absolutely adore what you do for them.

Paul Green:
Now, most MSP sales owner listening to this are the salesperson in the business. You may have some people working for you doing that, but the vast majority of our audience, I think are actually the sales people as well as being the owners. Now, if you ever do hire professional sales people, you’ll find that the very best sales people in the world know that a great deal of their success is down to following up leads and prospects because they want to get in front of the right people and make sure they’re having a conversation at the right time.

Paul Green:
Sure, these people are normally well-trained at how to run a sales meeting and how to listen properly and how to deal with objections. But really, it’s persistence that pays off for professional salespeople. Selling is more to do with understanding what someone wants, what they need, or what they fear than it is having clever tactics to use against them. And it certainly has more to do with following up prospects. And you’ve got to follow them up again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again… And again. This is the unsexy side of selling that most non-salespeople don’t see.

Paul Green:
Now, let me give you some scary statistics. These are about professional salespeople, but they apply to you if you are doing the selling as well. 48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect. Never. That’s insane. That’s literally insanity there. 25% of salespeople make a second contact and stop. Only 12% of salespeople make more than three contacts. Which do you think are the highest performing and greatest income generating salespeople? I wonder.

Paul Green:
And yet, despite the fact that only 12% of salespeople make more than three contacts, only 2% of sales are made on the first contact. 3% of sales are made on the second contact. 5% of sales are made on the third contact. Scary this, isn’t it? 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact and a terrifying and huge and whopping 80% of sales are made on the fifth to the 12th contact.

Paul Green:
You can see that the people who turn up more often, are the ones who are more likely to get the sale. And come on, we all know this. It’s not fun picking up the phone to someone month, after month, after month. But you know what? As long as it’s for relationship building and you don’t get sharp with them or annoyed with them and you don’t apply unnecessary pressure, you are dramatically more likely to get the sale than anyone else because you turned up more often.

Paul Green:
Once someone has inquired to your business, you need to keep going back to them again and again and again, either until they buy, or until they die, or until they say, “Bye bye,” as in, they don’t want to hear from you again. And only a very small number will do this. Now, with your followup, whether they are leads or prospects, there are pretty much about four things that you’re trying to do. The first is to maintain a long-term relationship because they don’t know what they don’t know these people. And therefore, they’re not making cognitive decisions about which MSP to choose. They’re making emotional decisions. So the more they believe they know you, the safer the choice you appear to be.

Paul Green:
The second thing is to never let them forget you. They’ve got to choose to forget you. The third thing is to be in front of them at the point that they’re ready to buy. And the fourth thing is to segment your audience and target your offers. A challenge to you, go and have a look at the followup within your business. Is it all sat on your shoulders? There must be someone you can delegate it to. Or can you outsource it? You know I’m a big fan of hiring a back-to-work mom or mum to do your phoning for you.

Paul Green:
In fact, if you go back to episode 72 of the podcast, which was back at the end of March this year, that’s where we talk about that very subject, how you can hire a telephone person to do this for you. But have a look at what emails are you sending out? What social media are you putting in front of people? And especially, what phone calls are you making to your leads and to your prospects? It’s only by doing this consistently and persistently that you actually get the sales results that you are really looking for.

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
3,209 MSPs all around the world, now have a free copy of my book on MSP marketing. It’s called Updating Servers Doesn’t Grow Your Business. And you can get your free copy posted to you completely free. If you’re in the UK or the US, we will ship it to you at no cost to you. You don’t even have to put your credit card in. This isn’t one of those things where we’re trying to get you to pay for postage. It’s a genuine free book that we send to you.

Paul Green:
Why? Because we’re trying to start a business relationship with you. Maybe you’ll go on to buy something from us down the line, maybe you won’t. It doesn’t really matter either way, but wherever you are in the world, you can get a copy. As I say, there are physical copies in the US and the UK. Everywhere else, we just send you a PDF. Get your free copy at paulgreensmspmarketing.com.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Alex Robinson:
Hello, my name is Alex Robinson from Novus Digital. I’ve been the managing director and the SEO director since we were founded in August, 2019. And what started as a passion project from my bedroom, has grown to a modest agency. But we are looking to grow fairly aggressively over the next year to two years and become a fully formed proper agency, let’s say.

Paul Green:
And why not? And you’re clearly good at what you do, Alex, because you were actually referred to us. And the weird thing is, you live and you’re at your business is based about three or four miles away from my marketing manager, James. And yet, when he asked for a recommendation, somebody in California, which is what? Was that about several thousand miles away, actually referred you. Well done. You’re clearly making some waves in our world, which is just great. And we’ll talk more about what your agency does at the end of the interview.

Paul Green:
I want to focus on something that Google is rolling out during the summer. And I want to, first of all, give the caveat that we are recording this interview early in September, about a month before broadcast. There is always that chance that Google changes something or does something crazy in the month it’s taken us, yeah, to process this into a podcast. But tell us what it is that Google has just rolled out.

Alex Robinson:
We’ve just seen the effects of the Core Web Vitals update has hit over the summer, as you say. And this is an update majorly focused on the user experience and site performance side of Google and SEO. What we’re looking at here and what we’ve seen for a lot of our clients, particularly those that are still knocking around with relatively old websites is, they’ve seen a lot of disruption in terms of where they’ve been ranking on Google, in terms of perhaps they haven’t streamlined their user experience. Perhaps they haven’t spent the time they need to, to get the technical fundamentals of their site sorted.

Alex Robinson:
And I won’t bore you with the technical details obviously, but maybe they’ve not spent the time they need to there. And it has caused a lot of upset. Most of that has since passed. They’ve finished rolling out the update end of August. So we are now in the clear, for the most part. And by the time people are listening to this in October, the dust will have settled. But if you have seen drastic fluctuations in your traffic, in your rankings over the last few months, then that’s why.

Paul Green:
Let’s go right back to what Core Web Vitals actually is. And I remember hearing about this around about a year ago. It’s been quite a long thing that Google’s been rolling out.

Alex Robinson:
Yeah, it has been a long time in the works and we’ve had a lot of pre-warning about it. And Core Web Vitals are the core technical indicators that Google uses to determine where your web website’s going to appear on Google.

Alex Robinson:
And it’s not quite as intimidating as it sounds, but it ties into the fact that they’re now looking at how users are engaging with your website to determine where it should rank. You may have the best built, the nicest looking, most back-linked website there is. But if people aren’t engaging with that, they’re not sticking around. They’re not reading your content. They’re not clicking buttons, then you are going to be affected by that and you’re not going to see the full results.

Paul Green:
This changes the way we need to build our websites and how we put content together. Now, if I’m right, there are three core parts of this and I’m vaguely remembering now, there’s something to do with speed. Isn’t there? And there’s something to do with how annoyed you get with websites when things move around. And that particularly annoys me on my mobile phone.

Alex Robinson:
Yeah, exactly right. So this is big mobile-centric. Google has placed mobile-first ranking factors onto everything for a number of years now, as it is. And this is a further move in that direction. All the time, the percentage of traffic that is mobile-based is increasing. That mobile-first focus is always growing. And that’s a major part of it.

Alex Robinson:
How fast is your website loading on mobile? Another massive thing. There are various technical indicators that are looking at in their speed ranking, that they take into account with that. And if you’ve got a ton of heavy file size images on there, and your site’s not loading particularly quickly, then yeah, afraid you are becoming a dinosaur.

Paul Green:
Can we go through the three things? Can you tell us what their technical names are and then explain them to us in normal human terms?

Alex Robinson:
I can do. Yeah. The first one is the web loading speed. That’s the core focus of it to begin with. It’s the loading speed, the interactivity and the visual stability of the site. So the first one being the largest contentful paint, LCP. That is, how fast are the various different aspects of your website loading? And there are various different cheats that you can do around that to make that appear to load faster.

Alex Robinson:
Without going into too much detail, for example, if you were to go onto a website, you may have the title and some of the text load first. That’s cheating Google into thinking that the website’s loading, whilst in the background, you’re loading content further down the page. Those images are still loading in, but because the user isn’t seeing them yet, it’s all working in the background to make the website appear like it’s loading fast than it actually is And that’s a way to get through fairly visually heavy content. Get it onto the website in a way that isn’t going to affect that.

Alex Robinson:
The second focus, being first inputs delay, FID, the interactivity. How long is it taking people to engage on the website? What is it they’re doing there? What is it that we’re waiting for in terms of them coming on? Is it for them to click on a button, for example, to see more information? Is it for a form fill? Is it to click on a phone button to ring you up? It entirely depends.

Alex Robinson:
And then there’s the CLS, the cumulative layout shift, the visual stability. Which again, comes back to how is the website presented? How is that content along the website presented? How are people engaging with it? Are they having to scroll for miles and miles through the content in order to get to the most important part of it? Hopefully, that made some sense.

Paul Green:
It did. It made perfect sense. And I’m hoping this changes the way that we consume news. I don’t know about you, but if I take a 10 minute break and I flick through stuff on my mobile. And often, I’ll find myself flicking down an article, because there’s just too many adverts in the way, or things are moving and whatsoever.

Paul Green:
And it sounds like some of the sites I’m looking at, which I’ll be honest, are mostly sci-fi, Marvel movie sites, that kind of stuff. That’s my downtime. It sounds like a lot of these sites are going to have to make quite a lot of changes to keep up with this. What’s the next thing, Alex? What do we think Google is going to come up with next? Because they seem to change the game, I don’t know, what? Every three to four years.

Alex Robinson:
Yeah. I’d actually argue it’s maybe more often than that. It’s more, yeah, every one to two years there’ll be a major update. We’ve just weathered this one. And I think the next one’s going to be more focused on link building. So link building is really where they staple columns of SEO now for, well, since it’s inception.

Alex Robinson:
And it’s gone through various iterations that affected so many websites that were practicing black hat link building techniques. And they’re only refining that as time goes on. I think the next stage will be further devaluation of links. I don’t think they’re ever going to fully cut it out in terms of a metric that they used to determine whether a website is fit for purpose or not. I don’t think they can. I think it’s so tightly wound into what they do.

Alex Robinson:
But I think they’re going to be looking at, okay, well, what links are actually providing value? And only really placing the value on those links that are news articles, for example. Incredibly relevant topics, all the things that traditionally, we’ve been told we should be focusing on, but as SEOs, we can from time to time create artificially. And I think they’re going to be really cutting down on that moving forwards.

Paul Green:
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. One final question for you, Alex. If you assume the average MSP hasn’t done a great deal of SEO optimisation for their website. They’ve got a site and it says who they are and what they do, but they’re not adding a huge amount of content, which in my experience is around about 70, 80% of MSPs. What would you recommend are the first steps to start to optimise your site and ultimately, get more organic traffic?

Alex Robinson:
I think the most basic step, and maybe this will come as something of a relief to people listening. Is that the first step isn’t actually the most difficult one to take. My first bit of advice would be to determine what it is that people are searching for. And across the MSP industry, it is fairly generic. It is things like IT support, cybersecurity, things on those lines. Determine the target area that you want to focus on. If we are talking about ourselves, we’re maybe looking at cybersecurity, Milton Keynes, for example, cybersecurity, Kettering.

Alex Robinson:
And building pages around that content, not in a horribly artificial way, but focusing in on that content, creating content that would be relevant for people searching for IT support, Kettering. What is it that they’re looking to land on? Well, they’re obviously looking for a local company. And if you are based within that area, then you can deliver that. And they’re looking for more information around what’s involved in your IT support services. Maybe include a little bit more information about first line, second line, third line support and all the various different offerings that you give as IT support to those businesses that they’d want to see.

Alex Robinson:
And that content could be as little as four to 500 words. And again, on a nicely optimised landing page. That’s going to be the most important thing now. Making sure that the page is laid out nicely, with lots of calls to action, getting people to engage. But that would be my first step. And potentially one that wouldn’t necessarily take that long, depending on how many areas you service.

Paul Green:
Okay. That’s great. Thank you, Alex. Tell us a little bit more about Novus Digital and how can we get in touch with you?

Alex Robinson:
Okay. Well, you can get in touch with us from our website, which is www.novus.digital. No.com, no.uk. We just simply went for .digital. And as I said, we’ve been going two years now, which in the agency space, it doesn’t make us an old player, but it certainly doesn’t make us the new kids on the block either.

Alex Robinson:
We’ve found our feet with various different things. And as I said at the start, we’re actually an agency that was formed in my bedroom. It’s something that some people may be embarrassed about. But for me now, looking back, I think, “Well, actually, I’m proud of where we’ve got to as now a team of seven.” And now that’s all set in stone, it’s time to actually start picking out some of those clients and showing them what we can do.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast. This week’s recommended book.

Nick Moran:
Hi, my name is Nick Moran from Powernet in Australia. And the book I recommend is a book called Legacy by James Kerr. It’s a book about leading a team or an organisation, but more importantly, about leading the life you want. So go out, get it. It’s fantastic.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Liz Wilcox:
Hi, I’m Liz Wilcox. And in next week’s show, I am going to talk all about email marketing, how to write a newsletter in less than 20 minutes and how to get people to actually open and take action on it. I cannot wait.

Paul Green:
We’ll also be talking about prospects and expanding on something I mentioned earlier in today’s show. I said that they don’t know what they don’t know. And in fact, I destroyed a piece of personal property of mine this week. It was a great reminder of what happens when you don’t know about something. And how you can have a complete misconception, you can make a silly mistake and you don’t even realise that you’ve done it.

Paul Green:
I’ll tell you what I did and the marketing lesson from it next week and how it can help you to understand exactly how your leads and prospects are thinking and feeling. And if you need more leads, the other thing we’ll be talking about next week is how to go from nothing to your first 100 leads. If you literally have nothing right now, maybe because you’re a newer MSP or maybe because you just haven’t been doing marketing for a while and you haven’t really got a lot to get started with, I’m going to take you through a process to go from zero leads to 100 leads. We’ll be doing that in next week’s show. See you then.

Voiceover:
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