Welcome to the MSP Marketing Podcast with me, Paul Green. This is THE show if you want to grow your MSP. This week’s show includes:
The best marketing strategy, part 2 of 3 ‘create an unfair advantage for your MSP by building a relationship with your audiences’
Sell more to current clients by getting the very best out of ‘strategic reviews’
An expert joins me to share how to get more referrals by improving retention
Thank you to Joey Coleman, author of Never Lose a Customer Again, for joining me to talk about how to get more referrals by improving retention.
Joey helps companies keep their customers. An award-winning speaker, he shares his First 100 Days® methodology for improving customer experience/retention with organisations around the world (e.g., Whirlpool, Volkswagen Australia, and Zappos). His Wall Street Journal #2 best selling book Never Lose a Customer Again shows how to turn any sale into a lifelong customer.
Extra show notes:
- Listen or watch every Tuesday on your favourite podcast platform, hosted by me, Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert:
- Subscribe to the MSP Marketing Action Monthly magazine:
- Subscribe to my YouTube channel:
- Subscribe to this podcast using your favourite podcast provider:
- Got a question from the show? Email me directly: hello@
- On the subject of content marketing, I suggested listening back to episode 164 to hear the conversation with Marcus Sheridan, author of They Ask, You Answer
- Talking about building marketing relationships and conducting strategic reviews, listen to last week’s episode first:
- The recommended book was The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni:
Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world, this is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Hello and welcome back to the podcast. We got a cracker for you this week. Here’s what’s happening.
There’s a problem that most organisations are facing and that is the relationship they have with their existing customers and whether that’s going to lead to more business in the future or whether they need to be worried about those folks leaving.
That’s Joey Coleman. He’s the author of Never Lose a Customer Again. And as part of author’s month, right throughout January, he’ll be joining me on the show later on today with loads of great retention advice for you. We’ll also be talking about strategic reviews. They are a very useful tool, not only for retention, but also for selling your clients more monthly recurring revenue.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
So, we are doing a few series at the moment to get us into better marketing for all MSPs in 2023. And in this first part of the show, we started last week talking about the ultimate MSP marketing strategy. Now, last week we talked about the first step, which is building multiple audiences. Today, I want to talk about the second step of that strategy, which is to build a relationship with those audiences. So, if you haven’t heard last week’s show yet, please do go back and have a listen to that, so I don’t have to recap it now.
But once you’ve built yourself up some audiences, as we discussed last week, the whole point of this strategy is to then build a relationship with them. Now, why do we want to try to do that? Simply because when you come to sell your services to a prospect, you normally find yourself up against all the other MSPs that they’ve been speaking to and everyone’s in the same boat in that the customer, the potential client, the prospect, knows nothing about technology. They know nothing about the MSPs around. And essentially, all of it is just this big scary pit of nothingness, unawareness. They don’t really know anything.
That’s not a great position to go into because you could be, and indeed, you probably are, the best MSP in your area, but the prospect is never going to know that, then that’s not going to come over to them through the marketing. It’s almost impossible to show that you are genuinely the highest quality through your marketing. Well, certainly it is possible, but it’s very, very difficult unless you really build up your marketing.
So, we don’t want you going into any sales situation where you are seen to be the same as all the other MSPs you’re in competition with. I believe in stacking the odds in your favor. I believe in giving you a massively unfair advantage against your competitors. And one of the ways that you can do that is to build relationships with prospects before you ever sit down with them. Now, this is typically done through content marketing. So, we take educational content, we take entertaining content, we put the two together and we create edutainment. We educate people and we entertain them at the same time. That’s the content marketing that I’m talking about.
I do not mean content that is selling to them. There’s nothing wrong with trying to sell to people in content, but you can’t do it all the time because you’ll never build a relationship with people. Instead, you’ve got to educate them, you’ve got to entertain them, you’ve got to give some value. This is what content marketing is all about and it’s very easy to look at all the content that’s being produced and there is so much content that’s been produced. Isn’t that there a stat knocking around at the moment that something like 90% of all the information that humans have ever produced ever, has been produced in the last five years? I don’t know if someone’s made that up or whether or not that’s a real stat, but it certainly feels that way, doesn’t it?
It’s not as if everyone, anyone has ever sat there and thought, “There’s just nothing to read. There’s not enough content.” There’s so much out there and that may have put you off producing your own content, but actually that’s the wrong thing to do. You’ve got to take part in this game because content is how we build relationships. If you look at the things that you can do as a person to build authority, to build credibility, to build a relationship with people, they all relate down to producing content.
Look at what I’m doing here. I’m standing looking at a camera, talking into a microphone, creating content, creating podcast content. There’s millions of hours of other podcast content out there, but you’ve chosen to listen to this one. And thank you very much for that because the value that you get from the edutainment is worth the time swap, I guess. It’s worth you giving up your time or having me on in the background while you’re walking your dog or whatever it is that you’re doing right now. That’s the point of this. You build the relationship with people through the content, regardless of what all of the people are trying to do.
Now, we must never forget that the prospects we’re trying to reach, the average business owner or manager, they don’t know what they don’t know about technology, about IT, about cybersecurity. They literally haven’t got a clue. And I’m not being offensive when I say that. They really don’t have a clue and I know they don’t have a clue and that’s why we must educate them and entertain them at their level. We mustn’t talk about admin settings. We mustn’t talk about ransomware attacks in any more than educating people about how easily it can start and how it’s most likely to start in their email inbox. We’ve got to educate them and entertain them about stuff that is relevant to them.
So, you’ve got to understand your audience. What drives them? What do they want? What do they need? What do they fear? What keeps them awake at night? What’s the thing they want more than anything else? Well, we can pretty much guess regardless of which niche or geographical area you’re in. They want business growth. They want happier staff. They want more clients. They want more revenue. They want more net profit. They want it to be easier. We all just want it to be easier.
And can you think of ways that technology can make things easier for them? Well, I can think of a million ways and I’m not even an MSP. I’m not a technology guy, but I’ve spent seven years talking to technology people and that rubs off on you and I have an idea of how technology just makes business easier. That’s the stuff we want to educate them about because it’s relevant to them and if it’s relevant, it’s more of interest, they’re more likely to consume it.
And if they consume it, if they engage with it at the point they’re ready to buy, they are much more likely to see you standing out from all the other MSPs. That’s the goal here. It’s about on the day they’re ready to buy. You can’t make someone buy before they’re ready. People only buy when they’re ready to buy. But on that day, we want all those other MSPs that you’re in competition with to be here and we want you to be slightly above it because you’ve built a slight relationship with that person.
And maybe you’ve done it through content marketing, maybe it’s been through good multi-touch point marketing. You could take your LinkedIn audience, your email database, and just from those databases, someone who has seen your posts on LinkedIn and maybe received a message from you on LinkedIn and read your LinkedIn newsletter, and opened some emails from you and clicked through to your website and enjoyed looking at that. Maybe even watched a video on your YouTube channel, well, maybe even seeing you on another platform or even met you in real life, there is a certain level. It’s a low level, but there is a certain level of relationship there and that’s what pushes you up.
So, practical matters, how do you actually do this? Well, last week I recommended you build up your LinkedIn connections and you build up your email database. So, on a practical level, you first of all you post content on LinkedIn every day, and I’m talking six to seven days a week. Stop at five if you want. It doesn’t really matter. I don’t do LinkedIn weekends, but that’s a personal preference. That’s a personal choice. You can do it seven days a week, but put some content on LinkedIn once a day every single day of the week.
The second thing that you need to do then is send out an educational email once a week. So, that’s our rhythm. Social media goes out daily. Emails go out weekly. There is a monthly one which is sending out a printed newsletter, but we’ll cover that off in a future podcast and in fact, we have spoken about it in previous podcasts as well. You can go searching for that. Daily social media weekly, sending out an email.
And by the way, best practice on that email is you send them out an email with a bit of a summary. A tease, something intriguing to get them to click the link and go and read the full article on your website. That’s what we want them to do. So, you can use this to drive traffic to your website as well.
Practically, I guess the final question that you might have about this is, “Well, what do I write about, Paul?” Well, that’s easy. There is a ton of content that’s sitting there for you and it will be suggested by your technicians and your existing clients and your prospects. Every time you have a sales meeting and they ask you a question and you think, “Ooh, I get that question a lot,” that’s a piece of content. Every time you are in a strategic review and a client says something to you or asks you a question, “You think that’s a good question.”
That’s something an ordinary person, an ordinary business owner would want to know. You write it down, it becomes a piece of content. There’s a great book for this. Well, you’ll have heard Marcus Sheridan just a couple of weeks ago on the podcast, the author of They Ask, You Answer. It’s the best, best book I’ve ever read on content marketing. And it’s quite in depth, but it certainly tells you the content that people want to read. They have questions about how to buy what it is that you sell and just general technology questions and answer those questions. That is the easiest way to put out content.
Last week, we talked about building multiple audiences. This week, we’ve talked about building a relationship with them. There’s one final step on that, we’re going to cover it off next week, which is how you commercialise those audiences.
Here’s this week’s clever idea.
The other series that we are running right now in the podcast is how to upsell your existing clients. Last week we talked about the profit matrix. Again, please go back and review that if you haven’t already listened to it, because today we’re talking about something I mentioned just a few minutes ago, strategic reviews. Now, you may know these as quarterly business reviews, QBRs, technology reviews. They’re all just different names for the same thing. I’d like to call them a strategic review because the value in this review is at the strategic level.
A strategic review is where you sit down with your existing clients and you review their technology strategically. It’s as simple as that. What it shouldn’t be and what it must not be is a look backwards at your performance, at tickets, at issues and problems. If you go into a session and it becomes a beat you up session, you’re A, not going to get anything out of it and B, you’re going to feel a bit crappy at the end of it.
And also, you’re not going to want to repeat them in the future, so I will tell you in a second how to [inaudible 00:11:12] or get rid of any potential problems before you do the meeting. But the purpose of this meeting is to sit down and look forward. It’s to sit down and ask the clients that you’ve got some questions, some open questions about their favorite subject. And everyone’s favorite subject is, of course, themselves, themselves and their business.
So, you are positioning yourself with these meetings as their technology strategist. We could even go as far as saying VCIO, Virtual Chief Information Officer. I appreciate that’s there’s probably a big leap from just doing strategic review to being a full proper VCIO. And indeed, many of your clients neither need or want something like that. But it is important that you position yourself at a strategic level because that’s where the big cash lies. And also, they come to rely upon you, they will trust you more. They will have a better relationship with you. The more strategic that they perceive you to be.
So, it’s a strategic review. First thing you do is you book it in with your client, you ring them or you send them a letter. Actually, physically ship them a letter in the post, in the mail, or if you have to just send them an email, although we all know that’s the least impactful way to do. And you say to them, “Hey, I would like to take you out to lunch just for an hour at so-and-so restaurant.” We’ll talk about your choice of restaurant in a second. “And we’re going to do something called a strategic review where we are going to review your plans for the next 12 to 36 months and look at your technology. And how we can make sure the technology gets you where you want to go faster and in no way, holds you back.”
It’s really important they understand what the purpose of this meeting is, okay? So, let’s say you send out a letter to a client and you then follow them up because obviously, you don’t hear anything because no one responds to these things anytime. If you don’t hear from them, you give them a call and you say, “Hey, I sent you a letter, sent you an email, whatsoever. Just called in to get that booked in.” And you do diaries and you compare calendars.
Let’s say you’re meeting them two weeks on Thursday. So, the next thing is you set a venue. And I recommend you go and find a local restaurant in town that’s independently owned and operated. No franchises. No chains. Really important that you are seen to be supporting local businesses. Why? Because local businesses have got to stick together, right? You’re a local business. The chances are your client is a local business. If this is a client that’s out of town, then you pick a restaurant in their town, an independent restaurant.
And you book your table and in fact, you ring up the restaurant owner and you say, “Hey, I want to have a table at the back of the restaurant, please. A little bit of privacy if possible, but we want to be at the back.” And when you get there, you make sure that your client sits with their back to the restaurant. So, you sit with your back against the wall, seeing all the restaurant. They sit with their back to the restaurant.
Why do you do that? Well, think it through. If they’re sat with nothing to look at than you, they’re completely 100% focused on you during the strategic review. You’ve just got to be good enough not to be constantly looking up at all the interesting people in the restaurant. So, that’s the venue that you set.
If you are going to do a lot of strategic reviews in the same town or in the same restaurant, go and do a deal with the owner and say, “Hey, I’m going to be booking 20 lunch meetings here in the next few months. Can we do a deal, please? Can we have a discount?” Or something like that. “Because all of these are the wealthy, well-off business owners that you want in your restaurant, and I’m going to bring 20 of them in here, so some discount would be nice, please. At the very least, I want that table and I want to have it every time.” That’s a fair thing to do, isn’t it? Everyone’s open to a deal if you go in and give them a reason for a deal.
Now, what if there is an issue? What if you are having some issues with that client? Maybe there’s some outstanding tickets or problems or unhappiness. You have to resolve those things before your strategic review. Well, if you’re in a strategic review and problems and issues keep coming up, you literally might as well not bother. So, if you’re in dispute with a client, don’t bother.
If it’s just some minor things that haven’t been sorted, then the week before, jump in, get your hands dirty. Get those things sorted and send an email or phone your client, it will be better. And say, “Hey, I’m just conscious that Dave on your team has been having issues with X, Y, Z. And we’ve got that sorted now. And I’ve jumped in and sorted that out myself, so that’s not a problem. Can you check in with Dave? We’ll check with Dave. Can you check with Dave, please?” Just to make sure that everyone is happy, so essentially you remove any possibility.
And then when you start any possibility of it being a whinging session, when you start the strategic review, you acknowledge it. You say, “Hey, I know we’ve had a few problems recently. As you know, we got that sorted out with Dave last week, and we have enhanced our own internal systems, procedures, whatever, to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” It’s almost like the elephant in the room. Sometimes, you need to address it to move on from it.
Then we get into the actual strategic review itself. The reason I want you to take them out to lunch is because I want you to have an hour of their quality time. And when I say quality, I mean, quality with their brain. I want you to have a very high-level conversation with them. You can’t do that in their office because in their office they’re looking at their phone, they’re looking at their laptop. They’re being distracted by their staff. They’re listening to what their staff are doing behind closed doors. In your office, it’s the reverse. You’re not really focused on the meeting. You’ve got to get out.
And the beauty of lunch as opposed to just meeting for a coffee or sitting in a hotel lobby, the beauty of lunch is it guarantees you an hour because that’s what you need. You need an hour for this strategic review. In fact, if you do do a deal with a local restaurant owner, you may say to them, “Please, can you slow the service down a bit?”
Often people are rushing lunch, aren’t they? Because they want to get to lunch and get back to the office. But you might say to the restaurant owner, “Just slow things down. Don’t worry. Tell your waiter they’ll still get a great tip at the end of it. In fact, I’ll tip better if we are here for more than 60 minutes,” than if the service is too quick.
So, you sit down. You agree the basic rules, phones on silent, upside down on the table. You both have to do that. I highly recommend you take notes on a physical pad if you can, rather than on a laptop or an iPad. I appreciate that’s not the very modern digital way to do it, but I think it’s more valuable to be concentrating on the person that you’re talking to than any other distractions. In fact, if you do use a laptop or a tablet, please don’t connect it to the internet, so you can’t see the team’s messages and all the other rubbish that’s going to distract you from this important meeting.
The strategic review then is basically you asking them about the future. Ask big open questions. What are your plans for the next year? What about in three years’ time? Where do you see yourselves down the line? What are your competitors doing? What do you guys need to do faster? What do you need to do more of? What do you need to do less of?
What’s annoying your staff? Don’t ask that one if it’s you that’s annoying their staff. What frustrations have you got? What could hold you back? If I could wave a magic wand and change something that would help you get to your goals faster, what would that be? What keeps you up at night? What do you lie in bed worrying about?
What we are looking to do is we are looking to shift the answers that they’ll give you from being head answers to being heart answers. When you first start asking someone those questions, I mean obviously, they’re willing to have this conversation because it’s their love, it’s their baby, it’s their business. But initially, they’ll just give you head answers. Almost like the answers they think you want to hear.
We want to get to a point where you and they have bonded so much that they are starting to give you heart answers. Heart answers are what they truly feel and what they’re truly worried about. The most powerful thing is if someone says to you, “I just lie ahead, I lie awake in bed at night and I just lie there and I think, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to make payroll.'” Because that’s normal, isn’t it? That’s all businesses go through at some point.
And if you can get someone at that emotional level while they’re opening up to you emotionally, then not only are you going to strengthen your bond with them, but you can serve them better because you understand exactly what’s driving with them. And also, you can sell more stuff to them, if it’s appropriate. I’m not suggesting in any way that this is an exercise in selling something for the sake of it.
But let’s be honest, all of your clients, you know could sell more monthly recurring revenue services to that would help them. You can help them be better protected. You can help them be more productive, more efficient, communicate better, collaborate better. Remove blocks, remove problems. Speed things up. You know this because you are a genius. Because you’re a technical genius, but they don’t know this because they’re ordinary. They’re ordinary business owners and managers, so they don’t get it at all.
This is why you need to get those heart answers out of them, so you can talk about them. And then you would suggest some stuff. You might say, “Well, hey, look, I think what we could do here is we could shut down that 1998 server that you’ve got in your office. We can move you fully over to the Cloud. That’s going to solve that problem you were talking about having these new premises here, And with your staff hybrid working, we can make all of that go away with one project. Would you like me to get a proposal, a quote together for that?”
And of course, they’ll say yes. All we’re doing here is we’re opening doors. We’re opening doors for new projects, we’re opening doors for new monthly recurring revenue services. Now, there is a third part to this. We talked last week about the profit matrix. We’ve just talked about strategic reviews.
Next week, we’re going to talk about the real long-term strategic tool. The thing that turns any client into a bonded client, who literally will never ever leave you. In fact, they would rather sell their children than leave you because you are so critical to their business. It’s called a technology roadmap. And I’ll tell you all about that in next week’s podcast.
Paul’s blatant plug.
How do you fancy a guaranteed increase in your monthly recurring revenue of at least $10,000, or whatever that is in your local currency, a month as a guaranteed increase? I don’t think there’s a single MSP on the planet that wouldn’t say, “Yes, please” to something like that. Well, I have a massive bonus, which is available to you if and when you become a subscriber to this. It’s my brand new launch. We launched it at the backend of last year. It’s called the MSP Marketing Action Monthly. And it’s a physical printed newsletter that we send out to you.
We ship it to your door every single month. Of course, you get digital copies as well, but it also comes with some amazing bonuses. And one of those is the opportunity to win working with me for 18 months, growing your MSP and growing its monthly recurring revenue. I’ll put all the details on a webpage for you to go and have a look. Just go to paulgreensmspmarketing.com/action.
The big interview.
Hey, everyone. My name is Joey Coleman. I’m the author of Never Lose a Customer Again. And for the last 20 years, I’ve helped organisations around the world to think differently about how they keep their customers.
And it’s so cool to hear your voice, Joey, because I’ve enjoyed 9 hours and 28 minutes of your voice, mostly while I’ve been running around the village where I live. You were the book of choice for me for a week and a half, I think it was. Listening to Never Lose a Customer Again, and I enjoyed every single second of it. And I knew we had to get you here during author’s month, so thank you so much for joining us.
Thank you so much and thanks for letting me travel around the village with you in your ears while you were going. It’s very kind. And it’s one of the things I love best about having a book that’s available as an audiobook is that folks can have that interaction, so that when we get to connect today, it feels like a little bit we already know each other, so I appreciate that.
Exactly. And actually, it’s quite rarely for authors, it’s you that reads the Audible and you did an absolute top job. I can’t imagine how many hours. In fact, well, I’ll ask you at the end of the interview how many hours of recording you did for a nine and a half hour book, because I’d love to get the insight to that. But your book is, it’s one of those very special ones and this doesn’t happen to me very often these days that I hear the book and then I immediately go and buy a paperback copy of it. So, I’ve actually bought your book twice.
You’re very kind. My publisher is very happy.
For those MSPs who haven’t yet had chance to read this book, and this is one of the most recommended books for me because it’s all about retention, just give us an overview of your message and what you say within the book.
I think this is a challenge that most MSPs have, but maybe aren’t aware of, and that is we spend all of our time over indexing on how do we get new customers. How do we fill the funnel, how do we market, how do we prospect? And I’m not opposed to that. I just want us to devote an equal amount of time to how we keep our customers. What are we doing to deepen the relationship? What are we doing to expand the type of interaction we have in the type of revenue streams and service offerings we have for folks that are already in the fold?
So, the entire book is built on this framework of the first 100 days. And the research shows that across all industries globally, wherever you’re operating, somewhere between 20 and 70% of new customers will decide to quit doing business with the organisation they just signed on with in the first 100 days of the relationship.
Now, before any of the listeners say, “Well, Joey, you don’t understand. Our MSP, we signed a yearlong contract. They’re into it. They’re not going to quit that fast.” The reality is they make the decision on whether or not they’re going to renew that contract based on how you interact with them in the first three months. That’s what all the research shows. Lots of folks think, “Oh, well, as long as we do a great job in month 10 and 11 when we’re having the renewal conversation, we’re going to be great.” No, it’s all about that foundation that you lay in the first 100 days.
So, the entire book offers case studies from around the world, yeah, 46, I think in total, about how businesses can think more strategically about retention and the relationships they’re building with customers. Instead of just always being focused on acquisition marketing and sales.
Yes. And of course, MSPs are quite famously, because you and I were talking about this before we started the recording. MSPs quite famously will say that they have insane retention. As in, you can talk to someone who’s been in business 15, 20 years and they’ve still got customers No. 1, 2 and 3. But I think you and I both agree that a lot of that retention is down to something called inertia loyalty.
Absolutely. I think it’s inertia loyalty. And I think the parallel for MSPs is banks, okay? And put yourself in this position. Because sometimes when we’re running a business or we’re operating in an industry, it’s hard to see our own challenges because we live them every day, so it’s hard to put ourselves into the shoes of a new customer, but flip the script a little bit and look to banking. Most people stay with their bank not because they love their bank, but because the pain of changing to another bank is greater than the pain of staying with the evil they already know.
And I think with all due respect to the folks listening, that’s how a lot of people think about their IT support from an MSP. It’s like, “Ugh, I’m really not loving it. It’s not amazing. I’m not referring other people to the platform. I’m not excited to use it. But the idea of trying to find someone else to fill this mission critical need in my business is so painful that I’m just going to stay where I’m at.” And I don’t know about you, but I’m less excited about building a business on people that are handcuffed to be there or feel that I’m the lesser of the evils available in the industry than building a business that is all about people who want to be there, who are excited to be there. And most importantly, want to tell everyone they know about how much they love being there.
Yes, completely. I’m not going to name names, but everyone who’s listening will know exactly who I’m talking about. There is a big, big business, a big vendor in the channel and if you read what’s written about them on various forums, it’s that people stay because they’re locked into contracts. It’s exactly as you were saying there. And they have a great product set. They acquire a lot of products.
And I’m sure not all of their customers are unhappy, but the unhappy ones talk at great length about the unhappiness and how they feel trapped. And I’m sure that the leadership team or hope the leadership team of that vendor is reading that and they clearly need to hire you to go and fix that. If you get a multimillion dollar contract off the back of this, Joey, I’d like-
I’ll know that it came from you, Paul. I’ll be happy to bring you on as my commissioned salesperson.
Okay. I think with a lot of MSPs when they get started, it’s often the technician. It’s the technician within, they want to do a good job. I’ve never met an MSP who doesn’t want to do a good job. Obviously, that’s why we all start our own business. Those first two, three customers, they super serve them. They overserve them. In fact, a lot of the things you talk about in your book, in your framework, I think is it the eight parts in the first 100 days?
Yes. Eight phases of the customer journey. Exactly.
So, a lot of those MSPs do naturally just in terms of trying to do their best for their first three customers. I think it starts to go wrong for them at 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 20, 30 because it’s suddenly impossible for one human being to super serve customers, and actually, not desirable. That’s when you end up with getting tech support requests at 10:00 on a Friday night. It’s not a great life. Talk to us more about that framework. How did you put that framework together and what does it actually look like for a B2B service firm?
Well, what’s interesting, Paul, is while I certainly respect and understand that some people see their businesses as B2B and some see them as B2C, I see all of this as H to H, human to human. And while I recognise that maybe when you’re getting a long term contract with a corporation, it’s at a different price point. There might be more lawyers involved. There might be more people involved than selling to an individual consumer.
The reality is the emotional impact and the emotional relationship we have with the people we do business with is often overlooked in a B2B setting. I think at the end of the day, the challenge that many businesses have, as you point to as they grow and as they scale, is we go beyond knowing the people who are our customers. That first customer, you know their name, you know their significant other’s name, you probably know their children’s name, you know if they have pets because they’re the only customer you’re serving. You’re holding them in the palm of your hand and you’re waking up in the morning thinking, “I got to do everything I can to make this person happy because if I lose them, there’s no food on the dinner table tonight.”
As we grow and as we expand our ability to not only service those folks, but even just to keep in our mind, the scope of the relationship, the depth of the things that matter to them becomes exponentially more difficult. And then as we hire new employees to help our team, other technicians to serve them, customer support members, the problem is they don’t have the back history that we have. They’re trying to get up to speed.
And what are we doing? We’re continuing to throw more new customers into the mix because we want to grow and scale because now, we have to pay for these team members that we’ve just hired on. So, it becomes this vicious cycle that just feeds upon itself. I think the opportunity available to every MSP owner is to say, “What can we do to step back just for a moment and look at the depth of the relationships or potentially the lack of depth of relationships that we actually have with our customers. What are we doing to navigate them through a relationship with us where we’re paying attention to where they are in the customer life cycle?”
As you mentioned, I believe there are eight phases to the customer life cycle and you don’t get someone to move from one phase to the next unless you’re behaving intentionally. You’re holding their hand. You’re doing the types of things to deliver not only the practical experience they need to move to the next phase, but the emotional experience they need to feel confident in moving to the next phase.
What I love the most about your book, apart from those 46 case studies, which I mean, case studies always bring a book alive, but was that so many of your stages are actually after the sale, which makes sense.
It makes sense when you step back and you look at it. Joey, do you have time to take us through the eight stages and give us a very brief summary of each stage?
Absolutely. And Paul, what I’ll do here and everyone, I appreciate your indulgence, we’ll go through a fire hose of all eight because there are eight of them and they all start with the letter A. And the idea behind that is not to confuse you, but rather to think of it that if you’re achieving in each of the eight phases, it’s like getting all straight A high marks from your customers. They’re going to love you even more. So I’ll go through all eight and then if you have any questions, we can dive into specific phases.
Phase 1 is the Assess phase. This is when a prospective customer is considering whether or not they want to do business with you. In common parlance, this is marketing and sales. How are we filling the funnel? How are we driving new business?
After they decide, “Yes, I want to hire this MSP,” They move to Phase 2, the Admit phase. This is where they admit that they have a problem or a need that they believe you can help them with. They transition from being a prospect to being a customer and this is Day 1 of that 100-day journey that is to come.
Immediately after they make the decision to work with you, they sign the contract. They hand over their hard-earned dollars. You’re high fiving, you’re celebrating that you landed the new client. Meanwhile, back at their office, they have entered Phase 3, the Affirm phase. This in common parlance is known as buyer’s remorse where they begin to doubt the decision they just made. And in this phase, we need to reaffirm their choice to work with us and give them the confidence that they made the right choice and that we’re going to take great care of them.
We then come to Phase 4, the Activate phase. I call it the Activate phase because I want you to energise the relationship at this point. I want the kickoff, the first real moment of truth with them to feel unlike any business experience they’ve ever had. That’s how you set the standard for what is to come.
And then we come to Phase 5, the Acclimate phase. Now, as a pro tip everyone, this is where most businesses start to lose. They start to fall off the rails, okay? In the Acclimate phase, your new customer is getting used to your way of doing business. They’re figuring out, “Do we do tickets? Do we call? How do we get information? How do we take advantage of the services and the products that we’ve signed up for?”
See, you’ve done this hundreds of times, thousands of times, maybe tens of thousands of times, but to a new customer, they have no idea what comes next. And you may say, “But Joey, I put it in the contract. We explained it in our kickoff meeting. They have a manual that shows them how to do it.”
Folks, with all due respect, you sign things that you don’t read all the time, all the time, and your customers are exactly the same way. When they are learning, when they are new, we need more handholding and less document giving. Less like, “Oh, go to Page 78 of the manual and you’ll be able to figure it out.” No, help them to find Page 78 of the manual. Help them to explain. Teach them to fish, instead of giving them fish.
We then come to Phase 6, the Accomplished phase. In the Accomplished phase, our customer achieves the goal that they had when they originally decided to do business with us. Now, what’s interesting is most MSPs probably think that the goal is just to have someone on the other end of the line when there’s a tech support problem. That’s all they want. “Well, as long as we’re taking care of, as long as we’ve got the backup, we’re good to go.”
No, no, no, friends. There is a much deeper emotional reason why they’ve decided to do business with you. Maybe that’s they had a problem in the past where they couldn’t get help and it costs them money, it costs them morale. It costs them some type of a negative impact. Maybe they have a vision of where they’re growing or taking their business in the future and they know they’ve expanded past their in-house teams technical capabilities. There is some goal that they have. And if you’re not tracking that goal, paying attention to that goal as it progresses, and then celebrating the achievement of that goal when they accomplish it, they’re not going to celebrate it either.
We then come to Phase 7, the Adopt phase where the customer becomes loyal to us and only us. They’re all bought in. They’re not going to look at the competition. They are committed. This is where we want to guard against that inertia though, because our adopters are the ones who are most loyal and most committed. Yet, in the typical organisation they receive the least amount of attention. They receive the worst pricing because we give our best prices to the new people and they don’t get the same level of care and focus and consideration that they did when they first joined.
And last, but not least, if we’ve made it through all seven phases, we have the right privilege to take our customers to the 8th phase, the final phase, nirvana, when they become an Advocate, a raving fan, singing our praises far and wide. Now, Paul, I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet an MSP anywhere in the world who has said to me, “Joey, I’m all good on referrals. I don’t want any more referrals. I’m happy with my business where it’s at. We don’t need anyone.”
No, we all want more referrals. The problem is the typical business is trying to jump from the early phases to the last phase without navigating their customer through the necessary phases before a customer feels comfortable making a recommendation. And if you doubt the validity of that statement, I would just ask anybody listening to consider how willing you are to put your name, your reputation on the line in referring a B2B provider to one of your fellow business owners before you really know if they’re able to deliver. Most referrals don’t come in the first 100 days, they come after that. But if we don’t get the first 100 days right, the likelihood of getting a referral in the future is slim to none.
I think you’re absolutely right and what’s terrifying is far too many MSPs rely on referrals alone as their marketing strategy. It is very much a haphazard thing. There’s a book on referrals that I’m sure you’ve read, Joey, and it’s feels rude of me to mention someone else’s book during your interview.
We’re all in this together.
It’s called Unstoppable Referrals by Steve Gordon and it talks about the fact that there is a risk, a social risk. If I refer you as a provider and actually, you turned out not to be very good, I’ve taken on board the social risk of the referral. And what you’ve just explained is why that’s the case. You’ve put real detail into that. Essentially, for someone to be an advocate and to genuinely run around, saying, “You’ve got to use these guys,” that there’s an enormous amount of emotional development that they need to go through.
In your experience, where do businesses get stuck? Is it a case that businesses try to jump from the first day to the last day? Or when they’re trying to implement the process that you talk about in your book, do they typically get stuck at a different stage or is it just that they run out of steam?
All of the above, right? I mean it depends on the business and it depends on the business owner. I mean, I think some businesses don’t even think of the multiple phases that a customer goes through. They think of, well, there’s somebody who isn’t a customer and there’s someone who is a customer. It’s a binary conversation. That’s not the world we live in.
And I understand for tech folks to think in a binary world makes sense. That’s what you do all day every day, but humans don’t operate that way. Humans are more complex. There’s more shades of gray between here and there and where we’re going. So, I think there’s automatically a challenge given the industry and there’s automatic a challenge given the fact that we’re also busy that we just want to put people into buckets really quickly and move on.
Additionally, I think most businesses are structured not to take care of their customers in the long term. What do I mean by that? The typical business, if I ask an MSP owner, how much did you spend on marketing last year or last quarter, they can answer that question. If I ask them how much they spent on taking care of their existing customers, their eyes glaze over. They’re not sure.
If I go to the typical business and I say to the sales team, “What are our goals for this quarter? How many new clients are we trying to land?” And then I go to the rest of the company and I say, “What are our goals this quarter for how much we’re going to expand the relationship with our existing clients?” I don’t get any answers.
Instead, I get things like, “Well, we’re just not going to lose any. We’re going to try to save them. We’re going to have this retention program that really isn’t retention. It’s more of a crisis response program that if somebody is going to leave, we’re going to put a ton of effort and human power towards it to try to save them”. Instead of saying strategically, “Where are we going to build and grow and develop and deepen the relationships we have with our existing customers.”
So, sadly, Paul, I think it’s not a “There’s one thing that all companies can do to make it better.” I do think the opportunity is to say, “What is our current customer journey? What does it look like?” Because most businesses haven’t even done that. They haven’t even mapped the current customer journey. They did it maybe when they first started out with their business.
But once you’re up and running and you’re successful, going back and looking at what the actual experience is, is often something business owners don’t do. I’ll give you a quick story. This past weekend, I was working with a mastermind group that we flew into Las Vegas and we had a whole event for them and as part of that process we mapped the journey. And I had CEOs in the room.
And what I noticed is by the time we were done mapping the journey, over the course of the next several hours, they would keep saying, “Oh, but then there’s also this other thing we do. Oh, and you know, I need to check with my team because we used to do that, but I’ll be candid, I’m not even sure we’re doing that anymore.”
Lots of times as our business grows, we get away from the handholding. from the care and the consideration that we had when our business started. And as a result, we become more focused on, “Well, what is the big picture?” Instead of paying close attention to those details that are actually the things that are going to keep us in business long term.
Yeah, I can imagine. There’s two more things I want to ask you, Joey, and then unfortunately, I’ll have to end our time together. I do want to ask you what else you do to help businesses? Clearly, you mentioned the mastermind in Vegas, which all sounds very showbiz, so we’ll come onto that in a second. Before we do, let’s just talk about the actual book itself.
I was going to ask you how long it took you to write it, but I’m conscious that the actual physical putting down words on a page can often be a very short period of time. Often, these books and this feels like a lifetime’s work in a book. How long do you think it’s taken you to create this book?
Well, Paul, it’s a great question and I’m actually in the process of writing my second book right now, so we can compare the two. With my first book, I had given hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of speeches on this topic over almost 15 years. So, by the time I sat down to write the book, I didn’t actually write the book, I talked the book, because I’m a speaker. What I did is I recorded myself talking through the chapters and then had that transcribed. To get the first draft of the book, it took 12 hours.
Now, it’s 12 hours that were built over 15 years. But it took 12 hours to lay down that first version of the book, which was about 240 pages. Final book was about 340 pages. So, you see that the editing process that happened over the course of the next month to three months. And then all the work we did beyond that, added an additional 100 pages of clarification and content and additional case studies.
I think when it comes to writing a book, lots of times people’s first book is one that they’ve spent a boatload of time on and the second book is a little more of a challenge. Now, for my second book, which is called Never Lose an Employee Again, comes out in June of 2023. And it’s all about what can we do with these same eight phases when we turn them internally on our organisation to retain our top talent. It’s taken a little bit longer to write, but has also been researched and written in the last five or six years as opposed to 15 years. And so, it’s a little bit of a different environment.
You’re going to be there at the age of 85, saying, “I’ve got my 7th book, I just need another couple of years.”
Let me tell you, I love writing books, Paul. I’m one of those folks that really enjoys doing it, so I think there are definitely more books to come, indeed.
I hope so. I really do hope so. And was it you that made the decision to read your own book on Audible? Because that is quite rare for a non-celebrity author to read their own book. I mean, you said you’re a speaker, but there’s a difference between being on a stage communicating something and sitting in a voice booth somewhere, probably in LA, reading your own work.
Yeah, there really is, Paul. And it was actually a piece of the contract I did with my publisher. I worked with the folks at Portfolio Penguin. And as part of the contract I said, “I want to be the one who reads the book.” And they were like, “Oh, we’re not sure if we want to do this.” And I said, “Well, here’s what we’ll do. Let’s do an audio test and if you feel confident in my ability to do the book, then we move forward.”
And by the time we got ready to record the audiobook, we’d had so many conversations with their team. They were like, “We think this well enough to be able to run with it,” which I was very appreciative of and honored by. And you asked earlier, we booked three days to record the entire book and it took us a day and a half.
Now, the reason it took us a day and a half, Paul, is not because I’m special or amazing, but as a former singer, as somebody who spends most time on, most of my days on stage, being in a recording booth felt very comfortable to me. So, we were able to lay down the tracks much faster than if I didn’t have that previous life or background experience.
Yes, I can imagine. I can imagine. Joey, thank you very much. You’ve been such a great guest. Tell us a little bit more, we know all about the book, but obviously, a lot of authors, they do use the book to… it’s their business card, and it’s a very, very smart business card. So, what other things do you do to help businesses with their customer retention?
Well, I appreciate that, Paul. I do a variety of things, but I would say the bulk of my time is spent giving speeches and leading workshops. So, coming in to work with companies individually or an entire industry or at a conference. Doing a keynote. Doing a multi-hour workshop. Sometimes, companies will bring me in to spend three or four days with their team where we map out their entire journey and figure out all the ways we’re going to enhance it. And then create the deliverables, so they can actually implement and execute going forward.
I also do private consulting with companies where I will work with a group of folks from your organisation that want to be focused on customer experience, so the customer experience or the customer loyalty team. And we go through and build out your 100-day journey, so that you’re ready to deliver the remarkable experiences that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Cool. And what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
The best way to get in touch is through my website joeycoleman.com. That’s J-O-E-Y, like a baby kangaroo or a five-year-old, Coleman, C-O-L-E-M-A-N.com. If you enjoyed listening to my voice, as Paul mentioned, there’s an audiobook version. There’s also a podcast that I co-host with my friend, Dan Gingiss. It’s all about customer and employee experience called The Experience This Show, which we’re in our 10th season now. And if folks are into customer experience and want to come over for some positive little tidbits of customer experience delight, we’d love to have you listen over there, too.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.
Hi, I’m Chuck Canton, the CEO of Sourcepass. I don’t read a lot of business books, but one that did capture my attention, I saw super beneficial was the Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. It’s super impactful to build self-awareness and also, an understanding of your team to help guide them and develop super healthy culture, to help you execute your business strategy. Easy read and I really enjoyed reading the book.
Coming up next week.
Hi, my name is Mark Copeman, and next week, I will be here on Paul’s podcast talking about my two books, Helpdesk Habits and MSP Secrets Revealed. I’ll even be talking about Episode 2, which is coming very, very soon and revealing some of the secrets inside those books. And some of my thinking behind the two books, and perhaps why you should maybe even go out and buy a copy. I hope you enjoy it.
Please subscribe wherever you listen to this podcast, so you never miss an episode. On top of that interview with the wonderful Mark next week, we’re also going to be talking about the third step in the ultimate MSP marketing strategy, that’s commercializing your audiences, and of course, the technology roadmap. It’s the long-term strategic tool that bonds your clients with your MSP. We have a ton of extra content and you can see that at YouTube. Just go to youtube.com/mspmarketing and join me next Tuesday. Have a very profitable week in your MSP.
Made in the UK, for MSPs around the world, Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.