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 Should MSPs do SEO?
06:15 Improving your outbound call success rate with a ‘pave the way’ letter
11:23 Hate selling? Then try invitations and conversations
Thank you to David Newman, Founder and CEO, Do It! Marketing, for joining me to talk about how by reframing how MSPs think about selling, they can secure more clients, charge premium prices, and increase sales.
David Newman is a Certified Speaking Professional and member of the NSA Million Dollar Speakers Group. David is the author of the business bestsellers, “Do It! Marketing”, “Do It! Speaking and “Do It! Selling”.
David helps solo consultants and business coaches grow their revenues by 50%-500% in less than 15 months. Nothing makes David happier than client results. (Well, maybe puppies – but that’s it!)
Connect with David on LinkedIn:
Extra show notes:
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- I discussed SEO with Aaron Nihat in Episode 117, which you can find here:
- And here are the ‘Ultimate MSP Marketing Strategy’ episode links to catch up on:
- Grab yourself a copy of this week’s recommended book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Fresh every Tuesday, for MSPs around the world, this is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
Hello, my friend, and welcome back to the podcast. This is episode 183, and here’s what we’ve got in store for you this 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.
And on top of that great interview with David, we’re also talking about something called a “pave-the-way letter”. It’s a unique tool which gives you a very good excuse to pick up the phone and call your prospects.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.
This could be one of the quickest segments of the podcast ever, because I have a one-word, very simple answer to the question I’m about to pose myself. Should your MSP do SEO, search engine optimization? The answer is probably no. There we go. We’re done, right? I can just go home now. See you, everyone, bye. Oh, hang on, you want me to finish the podcast? Okay, I will do. No, the answer is probably no. And I know that there will be 100 SEO experts listening to this putting their head in their hands thinking, “What is he doing?” And we have had some great experts on this podcast over the years. In particular, go back to episode 117, Aaron Nihat was my guest there talking about SEO.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a massive value in SEO. And what I’m not saying is that you shouldn’t do SEO because it doesn’t work. SEO works if you get the right people doing the right things, and they understand your audience, and they understand why people are looking for you. So SEO as a marketing strategy, as a marketing tactic, works, but the question I posed myself was, should your MSP do SEO? And the reason that I gave a negative answer to that was probably because you may not already have some of the marketing basics in place.
Because here’s the thing, SEO, it feels like you’re doing good, it feels like you’re doing your marketing. Because you can go and find an SEO agency, and you can put some gold and silver in their palms, and you can say to them, “Please go and do your search engine optimization magic.” And when you’ve done that, you get a little rush of adrenaline. You kind of feel like, “Yeah, I’m doing marketing. I just paid someone to go and do some marketing.”
And most SEO companies will very happily take your gold and silver and go and do some marketing. But if they are just focused on sending new organic traffic to your website, and your website was built in 2007, 1884, it’s the same year really in website terms, if your website is slow, if it never has any new content added to it, if it’s clunky, it’s full of stock images, there’s not a very clear call to action, and it doesn’t differentiate you from your competitors, so all the basic mistakes, or many of the basic mistakes, MSPs make, the problem is, you can drive as much traffic in the world to that site as you want, but it isn’t going to convert. When it comes to good, decent SEO, it’s not just about traffic, it’s about two things; it’s about traffic and conversion. Traffic without conversion is pointless. And the reality is that if your marketing fundamentals are not in place, there is no point driving a ton of traffic to your website.
So should you do SEO? If you meet these criteria, then maybe you should. Criteria number one is you have an up-to-date exciting website that’s full of images and videos of real people. It’s got social proof in it, so case studies, testimonials, reviews. It’s got lots of new blog content that’s going on there. There’s a very clear call to action, and that call to action is probably booking a 15-minute Zoom call with you to talk about their business. If this is your website… Oh, and it’s optimized as well, as in it’s fast, it’s a now, it’s a 2023 website in every way. If you’ve got that website and you’ve got someone whose job it is, and that might be your job or it might be some kind of marketing system, but someone whose job it is to look at people who are coming in and capture their details, and get them to join your email list, and work your LinkedIn, and just generally you’ve got a ton of marketing activity happening. If this is your business right now, then, yes, you will/could/should benefit from SEO, depending on the marketplace that you are in.
Obviously in the big cities, you’re competing against a lot of other SEOs, so it’s going to take a lot longer than if you’re in a small, one-horse town in the middle of a desert, a dusty desert at that. So yes, SEO could be the right thing for you, but you’ve got to get your marketing fundamental in place first.
My experience, and this may not be the case with you, but my experience with working with many MSPs is that 80% are simply not in a position where they would benefit from SEO right now. And it does come down to the website’s just not right, there’s not enough work going into LinkedIn, there’s no machine. We talk a lot on this podcast about building a marketing machine, and that machine needs lots of different cogs that goes in it, things that happen on a daily basis, a weekly basis, and a monthly basis, and you keep turning the handle. That is the machine. If you haven’t got that yet, please don’t waste your money on SEO, but do spend the money, go and get your website fixed, get in place all the cogs of the machine that you need, and that is the right thing to do to get started.
And if you’re wondering at this point, what are the cogs of the machine? If you go back to our first podcast episodes of this year, the first three podcast episodes of the year covered off the ultimate MSP marketing strategy. That will tell you the pieces that you need to put in place your own marketing machine.
Here’s this week’s clever idea.
I’ve just checked, and those podcast episodes about the ultimate MSP marketing strategy are episodes 165, 66, and 67. And if you go back and watch those, you’ll see that the strategy I recommend has three parts to it. You build multiple audiences of people to listen to you, you build a relationship with those audiences through content marketing, and then you commercialize that relationship.
An important part of commercializing that relationship is having somebody to make outbound phone calls on your behalf. And we normally recommend a back-to-work mum for this. Now, just in case you’ve never heard me talk about this before, I’m not talking about cold calling, I’m not talking about selling on the phone. I’m talking about having a warm, friendly person picking up the phone, calling everyone you’re connected to on LinkedIn, calling everyone that’s in your email database, people that you’ve been sending content marketing to. And her job is not to sell, it’s not to talk about technology or your business, it’s to talk about them and their business, and essentially try to see if this is the right moment for them to have a 15-minute Zoom with you. And then you do the hard work because, on that 15-minute Zoom, you qualify them and you check to see if this is the right time to talk and turn them into a proper sales meeting.
Now, that job, even though it’s not cold calling and it’s not Robodialing and it’s not a Wolf of Wall Street style kind of telesales room, even so, it is a difficult job to do. No one really likes picking up the phone and making outbound calls to people who don’t really want to talk to you. Very, very few people enjoy that. So there are a number of things that you can do just to make life easier for that person, and one of those things is called a pave-the-way letter. And it does literally that, it paves the way for their call to be more likely to get through a gatekeeper, to be more likely to be taken by the decision maker, and for actually the call to be a much more pleasant thing.
So the pave-the-way letter is literally something you send to someone in the mail, you ship it to them, before you call them. And it can be a letter, literally just a letter that you’ve written, and I’ll give you an example in a second. It could be a postcard. It could be like a magazine or something like that. You might have a case studies book put together. There’s a number of different things that you can do. Our MSP Marketing Edge members, we put together something called an IT Services Buyer’s Guide, which is something that they can send out to people before that call.
Now, the idea of this is that you cut through the noise. You capture their attention, and you cut through the noise, because you are sending them something. And then when you phone them up, you also have a reason to phone them up. So it cuts through the noise and it also makes it easier for your telephone person. Because starting a call with, “Oh, hi, I sent something through to you in the post a few days ago. I’m just calling to check you got it,” that seems like a much more natural start to a conversation, doesn’t it, than just, “Oh, I’m ringing today because…” We all put the phone down or kind of reject those kind of callers.
So what could you send? Well, use your imagination. What’s something unexpected and exciting that you would like to get through the post? And don’t immediately jump straight to thinking of merch, and branded pens, and lumpy mail, and all that sort of stuff. And it can be as simple as, in fact, this is something else that we give our MSP Marketing Edge members, we give them a four-page sales letter, which just asks the recipient to think about the customer service levels they’re getting from their current IT support company. And it literally says, “Are you getting the customer service you deserve? If not, here’s what some of our clients say about us.” And they open this up, it’s like a four-page letter, they open it up, and the two middle pages, it’s just full of testimonials and reviews and quotes from clients. And then, on the back, there’s a call to action. It’s a very, very simple thing. It’s a sales letter that doesn’t look like a sales letter.
You’re more than welcome to pick up that format. I can’t give you the files, of course, but that kind of format works very well, or even just a simple postcard asking them a question about some aspect of their technology. It almost doesn’t matter what you send so long as it paves the way for your phone person and makes it easier for her to pick up the phone and say, as I said earlier, “Hey, we sent you something in the post a couple of days ago, just calling to check that you got it.” Oh, and by the way, when she asks that question, a surprising number of people will say, “No, I didn’t get that.” Trust me, they did get it, it’s just fallen out of their mind. It doesn’t matter. The point is not for them to read this thing and consume it, and they certainly won’t act on it. The point of this is to pave the way for your phone person to call them.
Paul’s blatant plug.
Cancel Netflix, get rid of Amazon Prime, and you definitely don’t need Disney+ or Paramount+ anymore. Because if you want to be entertained and grow your MSP at the same time, you’ve just got to go to youtube.com/mspmarketing.
The big interview.
My name is David Newman. I’m the author of Do It! Selling, and I want to help you sell even if you don’t like it.
And that’s what we’re here for, we’re here for more selling. And I don’t think there’s any, or virtually any, MSP I’ve ever met who enjoys selling, it’s just something that, of course, they have to do to grow their business. Now, David, you’ve worked with hundreds, possibly even thousands, of business owners who need to get out and to sell to grow their business. What is it that we do as business owners that sort of hobbles ourselves? How do we hold ourselves back in selling?
Well, I think there’s a huge psychotic rift between the work of the work, which most MSPs love, and that’s why they started their business in the first place, and then what they call the selling part. And, of course, the moment that you’re in business, no matter how wonderful you are and how much you love the technology, you realize, “Oh, wait a minute, this is not about doing the work, it’s about selling the work.” And then maybe you go off and you go to some sales training, you go to some seminar, and what you see there and what you hear there makes your skin crawl. You’re like, “Oh, I don’t want to do that. That sounds terrible. I come across like a peddler. I come across like a vendor. This is the lowest possible positioning I could possibly be in. I’m chasing business, I’m persuading, I’m convincing, it’s one step away from begging.” And that is thinking about sales and selling the completely wrong way.
So I’m going to channel all of our MSP listeners, and I’m going to say, if you don’t like the words “sales” or “selling”, you may remove them from your vocabulary. That’s right, you may remove them completely from your vocabulary and replace them with two new words. Because everything that I talk about, everything that I teach, everything that I write about is really about an invitation to a conversation.
Let’s unpack that very quickly. Generally speaking, most people are not afraid of invitations. What happens when you get an invitation? There’s a party somewhere. There’s either cake or bourbon or barbecue or something delicious on the other end of that invitation, and so no one is afraid of either getting an invitation or sending an invitation. Part two, conversation. Usually, we look forward to conversations. They’re engaging. You learn things. Maybe you make a new friend, you connect with some cool people. Again, generally speaking, no one is afraid of a conversation, being in a conversation or being invited to a conversation.
So if you literally reframe the lead generation, and prospecting, and selling, and every part of what we’re going to talk about as simply sending enough invitations to the right people that you would love to have come to your party, send enough invitations to a conversation, and those conversations are easy, effortless, enjoyable, organic, dare I say fun. And then at the end of that conversation, you mutually decide, “Hey, is there a reason for us to continue talking about having a commercial relationship or a financial relationship, everything in selling becomes so much easier. But rather, we’re so freaked out, “What do I say? What do I send? Do I do it on LinkedIn? Do I send cold emails? Do I batch and blast the universe? Do I start ringing the phones and do 100 cold calls a day,” that we overanalyze, we over paralyze, we over overthink and over dramatize the very beginning of that sales process, which really I think is the most fun.
I mean, I think the whole sales process is fun, because I’m crazy that way, but I think the initial invitation to a conversation, that should be fun. And you should be having three, four, five of these every single day. And if you’re dreading that or if you’re not sure how to do that, I would say that, if sales isn’t fun for you, you’re probably doing it the wrong way.
Talking of fun, I have to say cake and bourbon, that sounds like exactly the kind of invitation that I’d get, or I’d like to get anyway. I’d like to get more of those kind of invitations. Right, let’s give you a scenario, David. Let’s imagine it all goes wrong for you. This is horrible for you, but it works out well in the end. So your career as an author is over, you’re down on your luck, your income streams have all dried up, but there’s this MSP who takes pity on you and says, “Hey, I heard you on that podcast with that Paul Green guy, and you sound like you know what you’re doing with sales. We don’t really do a lot of sales here, but we are very ambitious. Come and do our sales.” So you start on next Monday morning, you’re in working for that MSP, they’re local to you thankfully, and you’re sitting at your desk, but there’s no pipeline, there’s no sales systems. What would you do first? How would you get the sales going within that business?
What a fantastic question. So I would start by really deciding and defining, who is my very best client? Who’s my very best prospect? Who are the people that I truly want to do business with? And one of the mantras that I talk about, Paul, in the Do It! Selling book is target what you want, and you can always take what comes.
Now sadly, because MSPs are famous for hating sales and not being very good at it, because they hate it, their business model is part two of that statement, take what comes. Take what comes, take what comes. Let’s see who comes in the door. Let’s see who comes out of the blue. Let’s see who lands in my lap. Maybe I’ll get lucky, maybe I’ll have a referral, and maybe someone will just start knocking on my door. But that is a completely passive and reactive way to grow your MSP business.
I would say target what you want, which is the clients that you really, really, really love. And this could be demographics, this could be psychographics, this could be by personality, industry, job traits, mindset, value system, companies that really ring your bell in every possible dimension. And then once you’ve decided that, and once you’ve defined that, I would start looking around. I would start looking around, I would check the business media. I would look at your local business journal. I would look in the business section of your metro newspaper. I would look at every possible place where these folks might gather, both online and offline. So, for example, what trade publications do they read? What associations do they belong to? What conferences and meetings do they go to? And I would strategically insert myself in those places. So what that means is accidentally on purpose start running into your ideal prospects.
So most of us, if we’re looking at a marketing or a lead generation strategy, it’s some combination of speaking or publishing or online marketing. Maybe it’s ads, maybe it’s organic, maybe it’s content marketing, maybe it’s search engine optimization. But whatever it is, we need to accidentally on purpose start bumping into our ideal client. So if you decide, for example, “Boy, oh, boy, we do our best work with folks in this industry,” you can go to Google right now, put in that industry. Let’s just say it’s financial services just to have an example. Financial services blog, financial services community, financial Services newsletter, financial services association, financial services conference, financial services meeting, financial services magazine, because the magazines and the media companies, of course, they also have live streams, webinars, in-person meetings, all kinds of things, that is the market that I would penetrate.
And I would reach out to every one of those blogs, portals, communities, groups, media companies, conferences, professional and trade associations. I would do about 15 minutes of research on each one. I would look to see when their next event or their next webinar series or their next live stream or their next blog is coming out. I would subscribe to everything that they offer that’s free. I might even have a conversation with someone in the membership department to say, “Hey, I’m curious, are your members interested in this? Are your members interested in that? Because I’d like to submit an article. What would you like to see from me to be considered?”
So seriously, writing, speaking, publishing, all of these things are direct contact with your target market. So I’m also a little bit biased, I think that every owner of an MSP firm should also be the thought leader and the face and the voice of their company, the face and the voice of their firm, and they should be out speaking a couple times a month. They should be publishing articles, not just in their own in-house newsletter, but in the trade publications of their target market.
And we need to be the one that is going to democratize and popularize the technology that we are selling and that we are advocating and make it friendly. And speak English; we don’t need more geek speak in the world of MSPs. We need business solutions to business problems because that’s what the CEO’s, presidents, owners, and founders that you’re trying to connect with, that’s what they resonate with. They do not resonate with tech talk. They do not resonate with jargon. They do not resonate with consultant speak.
So my first week on the job, Paul, would literally be that, where are the blogs, portals, communities, groups, associations, conferences, centers of influence where I could start to put my content, I could start to insert myself in those conversations? And then, when you find a conversation or you find a thread that has lots and lots of comments, because it’s a hot topic or it’s a big headache for your target market, I would then take those folks from that platform, find their email, and there’s all kinds of different cool software that you can find anyone’s direct email address, and I would say, “Hey, Bob, I…” Assuming his name is Bob, “Hey, Bob, I saw your post on the XYZ forum. Is that still a challenge you’re working on? I may have a couple of ideas that would be helpful for you. Worth a quick chat, question mark?”
And then that’s my lead generating. So I’m going from public and publishing and connecting to inviting, right? That’s a perfect example of send an invitation to spark a conversation, “I saw you had this problem, I saw you had this question, I saw you had this complaint. Is that still a problem? I may have a couple of ideas that would be helpful. Worth a quick chat?” 75%, Paul, 75% of people that receive that within a week or two of posting whatever that problem was, they will still have that problem and they will still want to talk to you.
I love this, I absolutely do. What I love particularly is you could take a marketplace with 50 MSPs, all of whom are listening to you give out this such great advice here, and still only one of them will go and do it, or one or two of them will go and do it. And so your opportunity to stand out in the marketplace is immense, absolutely huge.
Right. Follow up question for you, David. It’s now your second week, so you’ve been busy that first week getting a sales pipeline started, but now in the second week, you look at the prices and you realize with horror that this MSP hasn’t put its prices up for three years. And you ask the owner, “Why haven’t they put the prices up?” What’s the answer he’s going to give?
We’re having enough trouble with the prices that we have now. People are scared of our pricing now, and you’re saying it should be higher? Are you crazy?
Yeah, exactly. Or, if we put our prices up, we’ll lose all of our clients. So obviously, this is not the case. Now, it’s very easy for someone like me or you to say, “This is not the case. Put your prices up,” and, in fact, this is a recurring theme within this podcast. You’re an expert, David, at sales and at pricing, why should the prices go up?
So here’s the reality, my friends, MSPs are not a commodity. You might think because of whatever you’ve been doing that your M SP looks like, sounds like, acts like everybody else, but you have a beautiful opportunity to de-commoditize yourself. When I say MSPs are not a commodity, what I mean is you’re not a pork belly and you’re not a barrel of oil, so the laws of supply and demand do not apply to you.
So time after time after time, every single time that one of our clients has said, “I’m afraid to raise my prices. I’m afraid [inaudible 00:24:31]. I can’t get people at my current prices. Are you crazy? Raise my prices? I’m going to put myself out of business.” And what they really say is, “I’m going to price myself out of the market.” And when I hear, “I’m going to price myself out of the market,” with an MSP who is not doing well financially or not doing as well as they would like to, I meaningfully pause, and I smile, and I say, “Well, yeah, you’re pricing yourself out of the broke market and you’re pricing yourself into the premium market.”
Because, my friends, I guarantee you, your MSP has lost business because you are too cheap. Now, they don’t tell you that that’s the reason, they go, “Oh, that’s what you charge? Hmm. Well, we’re going in a different direction. Thank you so much for spending time with us. Thank you for those great meetings. We’ve decided to hire someone else.” And I almost always guarantee you, that someone else is more expensive than you. You might do better work. You might do faster work. Your work might even be more meaningful, more lasting, more bulletproof, more future-proof than the technology that you advise and recommend and install, but they went with someone more expensive because you were too cheap and it scared them away.
So your pricing is baked into your positioning; your positioning is baked into your pricing. When they say, “Oh, I thought this was like the market leading firm, I thought that these folks knew what they were doing, and it’s only that much. Well, we were talking to these other folks, and they’re three times the price. Don’t you think they’re better?” Because the premium positioning automatically has a halo effect, they must be better, they must be smarter, they must be more reputable, they must get better results, they must have a higher level of client base. And when you’re too small or you’re too cheap, they will throw the little fish back in the water. So you can be in the little fish pond and stay in that market, or you can elevate your fee structure and, of course, also elevate the way that you do pricing.
I don’t think, Paul, we have time to go into package pricing versus hourly pricing, but my quick advice on this is, please, please, please, if you’re still doing hourly pricing, you absolutely have to stop and move to value-based pricing and value-based fees. But if it’s too cheap, it will scare away premium clients. So price yourself out of one market, price yourself into the premium market. Your positioning will improve. That halo effect will improve. The confidence and the certainty of your clients that you can get the job done… Because it’s a very, very important job, right?
All MSPs, they basically have the future of their client firms in the palm of their hands. They can either totally crush it and destroy it and derail it, or they can make it amazing and awesome and streamlined and propelled into a brand new future. You want to position yourself as the firm that’s going to propel them into a brand new future, and you have to be reassuringly expensive.
Just like Stella Artois. The good news is, David, that most MSPs have already moved away from hourly based pricing, and they are in that sort of package pricing and monthly recurring revenue. And having a package pricing has been a very big part of the MSP model for a number of years. It doesn’t mean everyone’s doing it that way, but I would say the majority are certainly there, which is good news.
I’m talking to that one guy in Montana. That one guy in Montana is still doing $125 an hour and he needs to stop.
Yeah, yeah. In fact, there’s worse than that, there’s still some people doing break-fix who are listening to this. And, of course, break-fix, that’s like three business models ago, but there are still people doing it. And, hey, that’s a choice, I guess, but it does make it difficult to grow your business when you are stuck at that kind of level.
Even good news, David, is that you have a guaranteed career for life in the world of MSPs. I suspect you don’t need it, because you’ve done quite well for yourself with what you do. Tell us a little bit about your books, about your business, and tell us how we can get in touch with you.
Yes, yes, yes. So there’s a couple of resources that might be valuable to folks listening. The first thing, of course, is the Do It! Selling book, which is specifically and explicitly for people who hate to sell. Let me repeat that, people who hate to sell. So I think all of our listeners will love it. And the shortcut to go grab that book is simply doitselling.com. My main website is Do It! Marketing, because my first book was a marketing book, so doitmarketing.com. We have a blog, we have a podcast on there, all kinds of free resources and goodies. We also have our Do It! Marketing manifesto, which is at doitmarketing.com/manifesto. So those couple of resources I think will be massively helpful to our friends listening.
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.
Hi, I’m Marc Gordon, the customer experience expert. One of my favorite books, and I’ve read so many, but there’s one that keeps coming back to the top of my list, is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is an old book, but, I’ll tell you, the concepts and ideas in there about communicating with people, about being authentic, listening, and really making people feel that you want them there, that they are valued as individuals, and that you’re listening to them, these are qualities and traits that we should all have regardless of what profession or industry you’re in. And I would say, these qualities are probably more important today than ever before.
Coming up next week.
Hello, my name is Alexander Abney-King, I’m a workplace psychologist with Abney Global, and I’ll be on next week to talk about workplace psychology and how to help your employees work better within your organization.
Remember, please do subscribe wherever you listen to or watch this podcast. It helps us to reach more MSPs, and it also means that you will never miss an episode. On top of that interview next week,
We’re going to be talking about LinkedIn newsletters. I’ve been doing one every week for, it must be getting on for about 65, 70 weeks, something like that, so I’ve gotten my lessons for you from publishing a LinkedIn newsletter every single week. We’ll also talk about three simple questions that you can ask yourself which will completely change the way that you think about the cost of marketing your MSP.
So don’t forget, we have our YouTube channel. When you do cancel your Netflix, you’ll find that at 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.