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:
00:00 Why you must give up your break/fix habit
09:08 Three tips for emergency lead generation
22:11 Identifying and remedying failures in B2B sales journeys
Thank you to Leahanne Hobson, Founder and CEO of Alinea Partners, for joining me to talk about what she has learned from mystery-shopping hundreds of MSPs.
With many years’ management and field experience in the high technology and telecommunications markets, Leahanne has directed business transformations, go-to-market strategies and new business development programs for global companies of all sizes. In 2005, she founded Alinea Partners, where she and her team of global Buyers consistently assess and transform customer experiences and sales journeys for MSPs of all sizes, globally. Alinea Partners is the only B2B high tech Secret Shopper and has shopped +700 different high tech companies globally. Pre Alinea Partners, Leahanne held Executive roles in Channel Development and Marketing at Avaya, Alcatel Lucent and IBM.
Connect with Leahanne on LinkedIn:
Extra show notes:
- Listen or watch every Tuesday on your favourite podcast platform, hosted by me, Paul Green, an MSP marketing expert:
- You can join me in the MSP Marketing group on Facebook:
- Find out about my MSP Marketing Edge service:
- Subscribe to the MSP Marketing Action Monthly magazine:
- Subscribe to my YouTube channel:
- If you haven’t already listened to the ‘part 1’ episode I mentioned, Episode 180, you can find it here:
- And if you enjoyed my chat with Justin as much as I did, you can catch up on his previous appearance on this podcast here:
- Subscribe to this podcast using your favourite podcast provider:
- Got a question from the show? Email me directly: hello@
- Grab yourself a copy of this week’s recommended book, The Challenger Sale: How To Take Control of the Customer Conversation:
Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world, this is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Hello, hi there, and welcome back to the show. Here’s what we got in store for you this week.
Hi, I’m Leahanne Hobson, CEO and Founder of Alinea Partners, and I will be on the show to talk to you about how many MSPs don’t pick up the phone and lose prospects.
And on top of that interview with Leahanne, we’re also going to be talking about emergency lead gen. If you desperately need more leads in your business in the next seven days, I’ve got three emergency lead gen options for you.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Look, there’s no easy way of getting into this one, so I’m just going to jump straight into it. If you’re still doing any kind of break/fix work within your MSP, then you’ve got to get yourself off this drug. It is a drug, it’s a habit. Break/fix work is a very unhealthy habit and we need to clear it out of your system.
Let me go back a couple of steps.
I often talk to MSPs, I do interviews, I do Zoom calls, it’s great to just talk to new people. And quite often, you’ll find people who have transitioned or are in the process of transitioning from break/fix over to fully managed services. And if you’ve done this yourself, if you’ve finished your transition and you’re fully in the managed service space, I think you’d be kind of surprised just how many people are still going through that.
I’ve spoken, just in the last couple of weeks actually, I’ve spoken to two MSPs. I say MSPs because they’re really still break/fix shops, but they’re very keen to move into managed services, they know that in May 2023, that’s where the game is at and has been for some time. So they’re kind of doing that transition. But there are a surprising number of people at all different levels of transition over to full 100% managed services.
And I think one of the things that some people get stuck on, and maybe you did if you were in this situation, is they get stuck on a point where they’ve got some people paying them monthly recurring revenue for a proper managed service, and in order to make ends meet, they’re still taking on break/fix work. In fact, as far as they’re concerned, they still have 40, 50, 60, 70 clients who are regular clients, they’re just not managed service clients. So they’re clients who turn up when something is broken.
Now, I think we can all agree, and remember, I’m not a tech, but I understand your business model very well, I think we can all agree that break/fix isn’t good for you from a cashflow point of view, it’s not good for… I know it can be good from a profits point of view because you can charge a good hourly rate, but in terms of reliable sources of income, it’s not great and it’s certainly not great for you in terms of doing a proactive job. There’s no encouragement for you there to look after a client proactively to do work that you’re probably not going to get paid for. So from the client’s point of view, they think they’re getting a great deal, but you and I know genuinely if they are paying you a fixed amount a month on a recurring basis for you to manage services for them, there’s a lot more proactive work that you can be doing. And overall, they are going to be safer, they’re going to be better supported, they’re going to have fewer interruptions to their precious productivity.
So we know that. But we also know that break/fix is a drug. It is a drug because the reality is it’s very, very hard to move a break/fix client into being a managed services client. The longer that they have been with you on a break/fix basis, I think the harder it is to actually move them over into being that managed services client. And I think this is why people get stuck with break/fix because actually, if it was as simple as taking 20 or 30 of your break/fix clients, putting them on a contract and that’s it, bang, you’re an MSP, then well, everyone would do that. But actually, it’s not as simple as that. Is it? You have to find new clients. It’s like as you are bringing on board new managed service clients, you’ve got to lose the break/fix clients at the same time. And that is tough. Lots of people find that tough.
I think the only way that you can do this is almost a kind of a process of burning your bridges and saying, “Right, no more. I’m not going to go back.” You know, I’ve been there in my business, my first business, which I started in 2005. My first year, well, I was going out and winning PR clients because that’s what I started out doing, public relations back in 2005. I was going out and winning clients and I had a phone call from my employer that I’d left just a few months before saying, “Would you come and do some training for us? Would you come and do some minor-level consulting?”
And initially I was very, very happy to do that. That was my PR equivalent of break/fix work, so it was easy work. I didn’t have to think about it. It paid relatively well and all I had to do was go back and turn up at some offices and do it. And in the first few months that was very welcome, but then as time went on and my old employer was asking me to do more and more and more training, it actually started to become a bit of a burden and it was getting in the way of me building my business.
So to put this in your terms, it would be imagine if you were doing so much break/fix work and you were glad of the money to do it, but it was stopping you from going out and finding proper managed service clients. That’s the equivalent of what was happening.
So I got to a point eventually where I drew a line in the sand and I said to my previous employer, “Thank you so much for all the work. I really appreciate it. However, as of this date,” and I think I gave myself like three months, I said, “as of this date, I won’t be accepting any more work from you. It’s not you, it’s me.” I know that’s what girlfriends always seem to say, but in this case, it was actually the truth. It’s not you, it’s me. And I said to them, “I’ll be honest, while I’m working for you and enjoying the money and the work from you, I’m not building a proper business.” And my goal was to build a business, not just to sort of build a freelance income as it were. And they were great with that because I’ve given them three months’ notice and that was it.
So maybe there’s a break/fix equivalent that you could do in your business. Maybe you say to your break/fix clients, “Hey, as of this date, we will not be supporting you on a break/fix basis.” And you don’t need to explain to them what that is because that’s jargon to them, but you might say to them, “We are not going to work with you on a ‘You break it, we fix it’ basis. From this date forward, we are only working with our clients who are under contract with us because of all these reasons,” and you talk about the proactivity and the protection and how you sleep better at night knowing you’re looking after someone properly, whereas of course, your break/fix clients are at risk, always at risk because they’re probably not protected properly.
Now, you wouldn’t necessarily do this with all of your clients in one go, but you may choose. Let’s say you’ve got 20 or 30 break/fix clients. You might choose two or three a month every month for the next year. So you are slowly winding down the amount of break/fix clients you have. Crucially at this time, you don’t take on any new break/fix work. So anyone that comes to you the first time and asks you to fix something, you say no. You say, “I’m sorry. We only deal with people proactively.” So this is you slowly, over a 12-month period, drawing a line in the sand.
Now, maybe, just maybe, some of those people will choose to come on board with you on a managed basis because they don’t want to lose you. Some of them will never put their hands in their pockets and pay for it because, and this is frustrating, they will with someone else, but they won’t with you. I think sometimes people get stuck in pigeon holes in the brain. You are the break/fix guys and someone else is the managed service people and they will spend that extra money with them. But you never know. If you were to ask each of your clients slowly over a period of time and say to them, “This is the deadline. We’ll stop working with you on this date. It’s not you, it’s us. We’re focused very much on protecting our clients, which has to be done using this business model,” some of them may just come over to you.
Now if they don’t, and this is your backup plan, is by setting this deadline and slowly off-boarding your break/fix clients, you’re sending a very keen message to yourself. That message is you’ve got to get out there and you’ve got to go and find yourself some new managed service clients because they are the future. The fact you’re not taking on any more break/fix work and you’re slowly firing your break/fix clients, this is a good thing. Not if you do it all in one go. That’s how you destroy the business. But if you do it slowly over a period of time, what happens is things change in your brain and things change in your heart and suddenly, you start to put extra effort in to all the things we talk about on this podcast of how you can go out and win yourself new clients.
So if you are there with that break/fix stuff, go on, give it a go. I know it seems scary, but it is a drug. Break/fix is a drug and it’s time to wean yourself off it and stay focused on a much more healthy future with managed service clients.
Here’s this week’s clever idea.
There comes a point in many businesses where we need to generate leads in an emergency. Maybe it’s because you’re doing something like we were just talking about, transitioning over from break/fix, or maybe you’re just at a point where your costs have gone up or you’re in a bit of a cashflow hole and you need new leads.
Now, one of the worst things about owning an MSP is that there is no real super fast lead generation because the sales cycle is so long when you’re trying to find new clients, and you’re trying to get in front of people on the day, the exact day that they are ready, willing and able to pick a new MSP. And even at that point, it can take months until they’re actually taking money off them. So it’s a very, very long game. And I normally try and shy away from these kinds of silver bullets, fast and quick and dirty actions, but I do understand that there are moments where you just need more leads.
So I’m going to give you, right now, three, if you like, emergency lead gen options. My preference would be that you put in place a lot of the things that we’ve talked about on this podcast, especially if you go back to the beginning of this year. I know we’re going back four months now, but the first three podcasts of 2023, I laid out for you the ultimate marketing strategy for MSPs. That’s a great place to start on this podcast and that’s the long-term lead gen strategy. I’d always much prefer you focused on the long term, but if you need leads in an emergency, here’s three things that you can do. And I’m going to be honest with you, they are going to get more difficult as I go through them.
You see, the first one is relatively easy. It’s about getting on LinkedIn, so LinkedIn, the most beautiful, beautiful social media platform for MSPs. And if you can find 60 minutes a day to work LinkedIn, you can work it with the four Cs. You may have heard me talk before about the three Cs. Well we added a fourth one in. The four Cs, let’s see if I can remember them all off the top of my head. We’ve got connect. I’ll explain them in a second. We’ve got connect, we’ve got content, we’ve got comment, and we’ve got contact. Surprisingly hard to remember those four words because they’re all very similar.
So contact… No, hang on. What was the first one? It was connect. Every day, trying to connect to seven, eight new people. Go and find someone who already has the connections, the people that you most want to do business with, connect to them and then connect to their connections. So essentially there might be like an uber networker in your town who’s connected to thousands of business owners and managers. Connect to them and then just go and connect to their connections. Simple as that. So connect is the first C.
The second C is content. You post a piece of content every single day, five days a week. This is about being out there. It’s about having a presence. It’s about being active. Getting marketing right is partly a numbers game and it’s partly a game of timing. People only buy when they’re ready to buy. This is more true in managed services than anything else. So you need to have a presence on LinkedIn seven days a week. And if you don’t have the ability to generate your own content, then don’t worry if you do because very few MSPs enjoy generating their own content, then you just go and find a user service like my MSP Marketing Edge or there are many other services out there that will supply you with social media content. It’s never going to be as good as your own content, this kind of canned content, but it’s better than nothing.
So we’ve got connect, we’ve got content, then we’ve got comment. That’s my new one that I’ve just inserted in the last few months. Comment is where you go and find other people’s posts and you add a relevant comment on it. So let’s say, for example, you’re looking in your timeline, someone’s written something and there’s been some comments underneath and you think, “Actually, I’ve got something to add there,” you would add in a comment. So you are commenting on other people’s posts and this is putting you and your profile in front of strangers, hopefully relevant strangers to you. Now, it’s not going to get them to all run out and go to your website and phone you up and buy from you, but it’s all part of building your audience and building a relationship with your audience.
So we’ve had connect, we’ve got content, we’ve got comment, and then the final one is to contact. And that’s about messaging people on LinkedIn because unlike email, we’ve got 100% deliverability on LinkedIn messaging. We can’t guarantee they’re going to read them and we certainly can’t guarantee they’re going to respond, but at least we can send a message to them. And you might look at it and say, “Right. Three, four, five people a day. What’s a value-add message that I could send to them?”
So that’s your first sort of emergency lead gen and that might not sound like an emergency, but if you put in 60 to 90 minutes a day every day on LinkedIn following those four Cs, you’re just creating this burst of activity. And what will happen relatively quickly, I’m not going to give you timescales, but fairly quickly, you will start to get up some big momentum and the momentum on LinkedIn, especially as you’re working the messaging… In fact, if you can do more, if you could do an hour in the morning and then do an hour at lunch and do half an hour at the end of the day, this is not mucking about on social media. This is using social media as a tool to build your audience and to build a relationship with the audience. And what we’re looking for are those people in your audience that, as I said, they’ve got to that point where they’re fed up with their incumbent MSP and they’re almost ready, willing and able to have a conversation with someone else. Well, let’s get them having a conversation with you.
So that’s the first activity. That’s the easiest to do because you can do that at a keyboard, you can do that absolutely anywhere.
The second activity must be done during the day and requires you to step way out of your comfort zone. And the second activity is picking up the phone and calling people.
Now, if you do go back to my early January episodes where we talk about the ultimate MSP marketing strategy, you’ll remember, or if you haven’t heard of it before, I have a three-step strategy for your marketing. It’s to build multiple audiences of people to listen to, such as on LinkedIn and your email newsletter. Then you build a relationship with them, which is done through content marketing. And the final part is to commercialize that relationship. And for that, I recommend that you get someone to make outbound phone calls for you. So it’s not selling, it’s someone phoning up your audiences and ultimately, they’re trying to book a 15-minute Zoom with you.
Now, if you are desperate for leads, essentially rather than hiring someone else to do this, you do this yourself. So we’re not talking about cold calling, we’re not talking about making horrible sales calls. Yes, there is an element of pain to this. I don’t like picking up the phone and calling people and I’m sure you don’t either. But you know what? If I was desperate for leads and revenue in the business, I would do it. And I have done it myself many, many times in the past. You pick up the phone, you phone 10 or 20 or 30 people a day, you might get through to one or two or three of them, maybe more, and then you just have a conversation about their favorite subject. And their favorite subject, of course, is themselves and their business.
So you don’t talk about you at all. That’s why this isn’t selling. This is just connecting someone saying, “Oh hi. Yeah, we’re connected on LinkedIn. I’m just phoning around to a few people I’m connected with. I’m just wondering, how is business for you guys right now? Here we are in May. How is it May already? This year’s gone so quickly. Has the year been good to you? With the economy the way it is, has that affected you in a good way, a bad way?”
And then you could just jump straight into, “So I’ll be honest, we do an IT support service. Do you have an IT support partner at the moment? You do? You don’t need to tell me who it is, but just on a scale of one to 10, where one is awful and 10 is world-class, how would you rank them right now?” And if they give you a score of eight, nine or 10, they’re happy. If it’s seven or below, then there’s an opportunity there and you can probe and you can say, “Well, that’s actually quite a low score. Well, can you give me an example of something they’ve done wrong that’s made you give them that low score?” That, by the way, is called a leading question. “Can you give me an example of something they’ve done wrong?” Very, very leading, that is, but it has its use, that kind of question.
And the goal here is to find people again who are at that point where they’re either highly dissatisfied or on their way to being dissatisfied enough with their incumbent MSP that they will do something about it. So all we’re doing with the phoning is we’re just trying to get the timing right because you can email 1,000 people, you can contact 1,000 people on LinkedIn, but that won’t… And by the way, and those are very valuable activities, they pave the way for what we’re trying to do here, but nothing is as fruitful as picking up the phone and phoning people. It’s a really critical part of your overall marketing mix.
So that’s the second emergency lead gen thing. And if you’re not comfortable with that, maybe you’ll be more comfortable with the third one, although it does involve you leaving the house or leaving the office, and that is to go networking. You literally get out there and you find yourself as many networking meetings as you can go to.
Now, if you set yourself a, I don’t know, a geographical area that you’d be willing to network in. When I was starting my first business in 2005, I would travel. I think the most I traveled was like 100, 120 miles, which was a couple of hours driving. And I actually won some clients from those cities that I went to a long way away. So I was trying to get out and go networking at least once a day, and that did involve having to get out of the area. And it was great to win those clients until I realized that I had to drive out there to service them. So I had a couple of clients where I had to drive a couple of hours just to service them, which was fine. It worked out okay. You, of course, don’t have quite so much servicing difficulty because after the sales and the setup, it’s all remote work. The vast majority of it is until you come to do some kind of strategic review with them.
So you may look within a couple of hours, where can you go networking? What are the networking events? What are the BNI chapters? Does everyone have an IT person? Because BNI will only allow one type of business per chapter. Could you join a local BNI? Could you sub with BNI? You make a commitment to going every single week, and if you can’t go, you have to send someone in your place and they’re called a substitute. Could you be a professional substitute working your way around the BNI chapters in your town? What else? What other networking meetings are there? If you’re in a niche, a vertical, where do your vertical companies meet? Where do they hang out?
Networking is unpleasant for many people. I didn’t really enjoy it. I did it for a number of years and it was okay. It can be a great way though to meet people. And again, just like the phone, it shortcuts the relationship building and it shortcuts the finding people who are nearly ready, willing and able to talk to you and nearly ready, willing and able to buy.
The thing with networking, as with all of this, is as much as it’s a bit of a shortcut, there’s still an amount of relationship building that has to be done. Don’t expect to walk into a networking meeting for the first time ever today, meet someone and get a good referral from them that turns into a six-figure sum tomorrow. It doesn’t quite work that fast, but it will. Well, going and physically meeting people and having an overpriced unhealthy breakfast with them is way, way more productive than just doing a bit of LinkedIn.
So LinkedIn’s a great thing to do, but it’s digital. Everything that’s digital is just slow and it’s a lot of noise. Calling someone cuts through the noise a hell of a lot more, but actually physically meeting someone cuts through the noise like you wouldn’t believe. You’ve got their full attention for a good five to 10 minutes talking to them, shaking their hand, swapping business cards, having a coffee with them or eating a bacon sandwich or whatever it is. And yes, that’s the most distressing thing you might have to do for the day, but ultimately, it’s the thing that might bring in some emergency leads.
And if you really do need some emergency leads, there are three things there that you can try.
Paul’s blatant plug.
We have talked about some difficult subjects in this week’s podcast and if you would like extra support, there is a group that you can join where you can get support directly from me and up to 2,000 other MSPs. It’s a Facebook group, it’s the one that I run. It’s called the MSP Marketing Facebook Group, and it’s completely free for you to join, but only if you are an MSP. We don’t allow vendors in. So I’m there every day discussing how to market your MSP, how to grow your business, how to make your life easier. Those are all fun subjects that we talk about and it is a great place for you and me to interact.
So if you’re not already a member of that Facebook group, grab your phone, go onto the Facebook app, type in MSP marketing at the top. Now, just be aware that we have a page and we have a group and it’s the group that you want to join. You go in, you answer a few basic questions, and one of my team will let you in within around about 24 hours. It’s the MSP Marketing Facebook Group and it is the perfect free resource to help you while you are growing your business.
The big interview.
Hi, I’m Leahanne Hobson, CEO and Founder of Alinea Partners, and I am a professional high-tech B2B shopper.
And we got chatting on LinkedIn several months ago, and you hooked me into getting you onto this podcast by saying that you had essentially mystery shopped 700 MSPs, which means that you understand what it’s like to be a prospect and to try to buy from lots and lots of different MSPs.
Now, that’s just mind-blowing and I know that some of the things you’re going to tell us today will blow minds because there are so many MSPs listening to this who are making it far too hard to buy from them, and it’s not as if people are queuing up day and night to buy from an MSP in the first place.
Before we get onto that, tell us a little bit about your background. So what makes you a professional shopper?
So as you can hear, I started in the States doing high-tech PR a number of years ago. I then moved over to Europe and worked for IBM, learned all about buying and selling PCs, and then I went to Lucent Technologies and learned about buying and selling from telcos and all about the channel. And I spun with Avaya and learned about moving from selling hardware into selling software.
And when I left the company, one of the things that I decided to do is establish that while we can do sales enablement, channel development and strategic marketing, we had some pretty strong background in trying to purchase hardware and software from different companies. And the reason that we had this was because of a PR gag. We decided that we wanted to do a Christmas card for Lucent Technologies, and so I had my team secret shop 50 different Lucent partners and listened to their music on hold and rate it. So it was a bit of a gag, but we learned a lot about who had music on hold, who was running ads, which was very annoying, and who had nothing, and also who picked up the phone.
So we took that learning, and actually Microsoft, which is a client of ours since 2006, asked us if we could prove or deny what McKinsey and Bain were saying about if you improve customer experience, can you move the needle on revenue? And I thought, well, our tagline is a different train of thought. Let’s do things differently. So we suggested why don’t we actually try to buy hardware, software, and services from these companies, put together a methodology and rate how they do?
So we started with 40 in Europe as the pilot and that grew to 700 today of different companies, and also we do this for other clients.
I love it. And I love how you just dropped in there, the 17-year relationship with Microsoft. That was a sly little one. Get that one in there.
So when you are acting as a mystery buyer, talk us through the process. So let’s say you are looking at an MSP, it doesn’t matter where they are, but you’re looking at an MSP. Your methodology, without going into all of the detail and giving away your secret source, I assume it starts with looking at their websites, looking at what messages they’re putting out there and then actually leads on to getting in touch with them.
Yes. Well, first what we do is we put together an ideal persona. So for example, a lot of the MSPs are focusing on the S&B market. And we don’t ever try to be something we’re not, so we don’t pretend to be a bank, which has its own vocabulary and their own websites, et cetera, but we do shop as a real company. So if they’re savvy about using Google or LinkedIn, then they’ll find us, or at least the company that we shop as.
So we sit down and we say, “Okay, who and what? What are the drivers? What would they be looking for? What’s the deal size that this would represent? That way, at the end of the experience, we can say, ‘It was this add to your revenue,’ or ‘this loss.'”
And then we brief our buyers and we have buyers available who can do this in multiple languages because we shop all over the world and we go through a process, so we start with discovery. Ah-huh, I want to buy a PC. Who might sell it? So we look at social media, just as you would or anyone else would who was looking to buy something. We look at websites and we then get to a website or several websites that we actually like. We then look at whether or not they function and we have quite a few nightmares regarding that, and also regarding collection of data, privacy settings, 404 alerts that go off, which scare our buyers away completely before we even had a chance to get to the website. We also look at the content and is it relevant for the buyer that we are pretending to be? Does it answer our questions? Does it move us farther into the buying process? Is it engaging and authentic?
We then look at the construct of the offer. How is it put together? Does it appear from our buyer’s eyes that there’s an upsell? Does it appear as though there are good packaging with managed services? Because we all know we’re not making money today on just selling hardware and services. The margin’s too small. And so we go through that full process on the website.
When we’re then ready and interested in this company and want to engage with them and ask a few more questions, we go to the sales process, and we take a look at all of the possible sales engagement channels. And from my experience, this is going to be chat, email, web forms. Believe it or not, in Latin America, they still use fax. We don’t test fax though. And then telephone. So if we’re buying a walkie-talkie from Motorola Solutions partners, then maybe we have one call. If we’re buying a printer with some software around that, then there could be two or three calls. And if we’re buying Azure from Microsoft, then it could be three or four calls depending on whether it’s just moving to the cloud or they’re actually looking at building out a consultancy practice on data.
Once we get through that process, we then look at either 100% purchasing on the web if that’s possible, if they have a marketplace, or getting a proposal. And actually, two-thirds of the time when we go and ask for a proposal, we don’t get one. So that’s a pretty significant amount of lost opportunity in the market out there and lots of room for the competition. If it’s easy to purchase and it doesn’t mean that a CEO or sales director is going to have to take a big amount of money off of their PnL, we actually purchase. So we buy Microsoft 365, and then look at what is the onboarding process? What is the welcoming process? Telcos are notoriously confusing. You get three or four different emails, some from Microsoft, some from the telco, and you don’t know how to actually sign up and start downloading and provisioning.
Then we look at aftercare and customer support. So if we have any problems, we usually come up with a couple of things, we then look at customer support, not only the phone call but the assets that the company has. So have they built up a community center? Do they have a frequently asked question? Can we get through if we want to get through on the telephone?
And that’s the process. We package it up with recommendations for improvement. We let the shopped company know this is the benchmark for your type of business model. So whether you’re a high-volume seller like a GoDaddy or a Telco or SoftwareOne, I only mention companies that have approved it, or if you’re more of a value MSP, a value reseller, then we can look at that business model and benchmark you against those in our group that fit. We’ll tell you where you perform better and where you’re highly competitive and you should keep doing those things. And then we also tell you where things were a little bit confusing or could have been a little smoother or where we know that you’re losing prospects, and that’s what we call our prospect abandonment rate. So these are prospects that you’ve lost before they even hit the CRM system.
And this is such valuable intel because it’s really hard for any business owner to stand back and not… I think once you know everything about the business, to then experience the way that the business markets and how you sell, it’s very difficult to do as a business owner because you already know everything.
Now Leahanne, let’s focus in just on MSPs because I know you work across the whole technology spectrum as it were. You and I were having a conversation just before this interview and I was saying to you that we have lots of members of our MSP Marketing Edge service in the US and it’s not an infrequent thing for a member of my team to phone an MSP in the US during their opening hours. We’re not talking about, because I appreciate we’re in a different country, but not talking about extreme hours, but during normal working hours, and more often than not, an MSP that we call in the US will not answer the phone. There’s no answer phone, which in itself is bad, but no one ever answers the phone. And when we were talking about this, you were saying that was your finding as well.
Can you give us the headline horrors, the things that far too many MSPs are doing wrong, which is literally creating friction and killing sales?
Yeah, so we go through that process, as you say. First we find out that there’s no phone number on the website. Very common mistake. People think they’re all Amazon and therefore don’t have to put any contact details.
Once we get in there, and I would say the majority of companies have one sales channel, and remember I mentioned chat, email, web forms and telephone, one of them doesn’t work in approximately seven out of 10 times. And so we send in an email request and we never get a response, or even a web form and we don’t get a response. Now the thing to think about with that is we don’t ever get a response. So we may shop a company, deliver a report in three or four weeks, and then never hear from that company again, so it’s a systematic problem within the industry.
When it comes to telephone, it’s quite often that we sit on hold, we can’t get through, we then get through to a receptionist who bounces us to another department. Quite often it’s the wrong department, and depending on where you are in the world between US, you were talking about that, and maybe Germany, you will get different levels of aggression when you bounce and say, “Listen, I was transferred here. Can you transfer me to the right department, if you’re the wrong department?” People will actually be actively aggressive if you bother them during the day to talk about wanting to buy something from them.
In the beginning, we had the experience that we would try to contact some companies as many times until we get through to a correct salesperson, and we stopped that because we were hitting numbers like 9, 16, 27-plus. And so now I have my buyers just try three times with each channel.
Because of course that’s more realistic. Normal buyers won’t contact someone nine, 15, however many times. They will try once and if they don’t hear anything, they’ll move on to someone else.
If you could wave a magic wand, Leahanne, and make all MSPs do one thing better as a result of all of your research, what would that one thing be?
Pick up the phone. And sorry, can I have two? Please get a proposal out. Two-thirds of the times, we never get a proposal and that’s just such a lost opportunity because it’s a profit hit. If you put your website together, get me to call you, have a conversation with me or one of our buyers and then never follow up and send the proposal, then that’s a profit hit.
Yeah, absolutely. I’m going to turn your two down into one. I’m going to turn it out into communication, better communication, pick up the phone, answer the emails, send out the proposals. Essentially, I think the business owner needs to systemize contact with prospects. They probably have systemized contact with their existing clients, but there’s no system for, if someone sends an email and the boss is away for a day, what happens to that email? Who picks it up? Who responds to it?
It shocks me that in 2023, any business would have a position where their phone isn’t answered. You’d think every phone system in the world, after three or four unanswered rings, it can move over to a call answering service. I thought this stuff was standard, but by the sound of it, it clearly isn’t.
And it’s what we’re selling, so we should be experts in this.
We hear quite often that it is the technology because there are patchwork bespoke systems that are put together to represent the organization. We get PBX’s that are too old. If you’re going to rely on hardware and your PBX is over five years old, then the chances are you’re going to miss calls, so either get a new PBX or go to the cloud. There are lots of really good solutions out there. You’re probably selling some of them.
We get people who are overwhelmed. There’s a lot of resourcing issues and so the phone keeps ringing and I can only answer so many calls. Well, somebody needs to look strategically at that and make sure that the right processes are set up, but also, that the right workload is set up within the organization so that the sales people can respond and react as needed and as desired by the company.
Yeah. But I think the technology one that you mentioned before, I think that’s an excuse, blaming your technology for a lack of response. To me, that means that it’s just not a priority for the business owner and so it hasn’t become a priority for the business. The reality is most MSPs have so few leads coming in, so few inquiries that they should be on top of every single one the second they come in. Because if someone phones you now or submits a web form now or live chats you now, the opportunity is now, and unfortunately these days, fast very much beat slow, unlike the old days when it used to be that big beat small. That’s all gone now. It’s absolutely about fast beating slow.
Okay, Leahanne, thank you so much for this. Let’s wrap this up here because I figure we could keep talking about this and it would just get worse and worse and worse.
This does, by the way, this does present a massive opportunity for one or two MSPs in every single area. I’ve said this about all marketing right from the start, which is if you can get a little bit better than your competitors in your marketing, in your customer service, in the way that you do business, that will give you a massive advantage over your competitors because often, a lot of your competitors just aren’t doing very well. And I think that’s quite an exciting thing, and let’s finish the interview on that positive note.
Leahanne, just briefly tell us a little bit what you would do for MSPs if they were to contact you and what’s the best way to get in touch?
Yeah, sure. You can contact me on LinkedIn or through my email address. You could then have a conversation, set up your own persona, your own deal size, and identify whether you want to be shopped directly or if you actually have other partners that you work with and you want to shop them. We can do that as well. And the discussion takes usually about 30, 40 minutes. We then go away and we shop and we bring back a report within two to four weeks, depending on how many shopping experiences we’re going through at the time.
To land the results. We do an hour, hour-and-a-half call where we go through the summary and all of the specific results, and give you specific recommendations for how you can improve. Because we all know we’re moving really fast, and if we can save a CEO, a sales director, marketing manager time by saying, “Don’t focus here. This works. Focus here instead and fix that,” then we’ll have done our job.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.
Hi, I’m Darren Strong from scaleablemsp.co.uk. The book I recommend is The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon. It’s all about challenging the prospect of a sale to think about something differently, maybe something about the business that they don’t know, to challenge them to think that you are the person they need to talk to.
Coming up next week.
This is David Newman. Have you ever asked yourself, man, why is it so hard to sell? Why is a sales process so gosh darn challenging? Why can’t I put up my fees? Why can’t I start charging more money for the amazing work that our team does? Tune in and we’ll explain all of that and unpack it for you step by step.
If you’re watching this on YouTube, please hit the subscribe button below and the little bell notification thing so that you never miss an episode. And in fact, whichever podcast platform you are listening to this on, you can do exactly the same. Please subscribe so you never miss an episode.
On top of that interview next week, we’re also going to be looking at whether or not your MSP should be doing SEO, and picking up from what we were talking about today about phoning people, I’m going to introduce you to the concept of a pave-the-way letter. It’s something that makes phoning prospects so much easier.
We’ve got tons more content for you on our YouTube channel. It’s 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.