Do you expect A Team performance from B Team players?

Episode 23: Do you expect A Team performance from B Team players?

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Episode 23: Do you expect A Team performance from B Team players?

 
 
00:00 / 00:26:31
 
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In this week’s episode

  • You’re great at the technical side of your business and you have some pretty good marketing ideas too – but why do we find it so hard to execute both at the same time? Paul’s joined by a special guest who understands the challenge and can offer a solution
  • This week, there’s a deep dive into the psychology of recruitment and why we plump for second best when we really need an A Team
  • If you ARE looking for new staff, particularly if it’s second line or third line staff, Paul has a great recruitment advert concept for you to try. Plus he answers a question from an MSP about the best subject lines for emails

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Made in the UK, for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
Welcome back to another dive into marketing, growing and making the most of your MSP even in these difficult times. Here’s what’s coming up in this week’s show.

Kevin Clune:
It’s really difficult to focus on growth, when you have all these technical issues and the day to day heading over your head.

Paul Green:
Plus if you are looking for new staff, particularly if it’s second line or third line staff, I’ve got a great recruitment advert concept for you to try. And I’m going to be answering your question from an MSP about the best subject lines for emails.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
I’ve got a friend I WhatsApp with quite a lot and he’s a very successful person. By successful, I mean he’s got a couple of businesses and he’s achieved most of the things that he wants to achieve in life. That’s my definition of success. The two businesses he’s got, they churn out plenty of profit. They help to feed the lifestyle he has and they’re good businesses, even in these uncertain times, his businesses are doing okay if not well. The biggest frustration in his life comes from the staff that he has and my friend’s biggest problem is that he is expecting A team performance from B team players. Now he hires lots of people for these businesses and he hires managers to run them for him and those managers, hire people to work for them obviously and my friend almost has a deep suspicion of staff.

Paul Green:
I think this is a deep rooted suspicion back to when he was running his very, very first business when he was ripped off by staff a little bit, which happens to all of us to a certain extent somewhere or another doesn’t it when we’re running a business, but this deep seated suspicion of staff has carried on to the extent that now he will hire people and almost expect them to do a bad job at some point. In fact, I think his default setting is that people will say one thing but the KPIs, the key performance indicators will say another thing, and this is quite an unusual situation because my friend is an A team player, he will operate at a high level of performance just like you do or just like I do. We operate at a high level of performance because that’s what the business owner does and normally, normally, A team players hire other A team players, but that seems to go wrong when it’s your own business.

Paul Green:
So often I’ll talk to one of my MSP clients and they’re having an issue with a member of staff and often that’s because they’ve hired a B team player just like my friend. Why do we do this? Because we all know what A team performance looks like. The issue for us is finding the right people to give that performance for us in the first place. Maybe part of the problem is that we’re not willing to pay the wages. We have lots of discussions in our MSP mastermind groups about the cost of decent second and third line technicians and I’m not sure what it is around the world, but certainly in the UK you have to pay a lot of money for these people. And certainly if you’re in, more popular parts of the UK like London and the Southeast, again that wages bill is going up and up and up and up.

Paul Green:
It’s almost unfair sometimes that we do hire these people who are okay at what they do and we expect absolutely the very, very best A team performance out of them. I think that’s a little unfair because not everyone can operate at the level at which we can operate. If they could, then they’d be running their own business as well. So I think if you want to genuinely hire A team players within your MSP it’s actually got to be a bit of a mindset shift, just like my friend, it’s not just a case of doing interviews a little bit differently. I think you’ve got to switch the way you recruit for the entire business. For example, you’ve got to say, look, “We’ve got a gap, we’ve got a vacancy, we’re busy. We need to fill this position.” That’s completely the wrong kind of mindset and we’ve all done that. I’ve done that, you’ve done that. And we all know we shouldn’t do it, but we still do it anyway.

Paul Green:
We’ve got to refuse to just try and fill positions instead of what we’ve got to do is we got to take our time and say, right, what’s the best kind of person to fill this position? What are the traits that they’ve got? How can this person be the person that excels in this job? That takes the job spec of what we want them to achieve and goes with it and adapts it and maximises it and really, really pushes it. I believe these people are farmed more than they are hunted and what I mean by that is hunting is going out and recruiting someone and stealing them from another MSP maybe, or they’re on the job market, but hunting is you go out, you find them, you hire them. That’s it. In out, quick kill.

Paul Green:
I think farming is a much more robust way of finding your A team players, particularly if your second and third line technicians, your more difficult hires. You need to be getting to know people almost months, maybe even years before you might possibly hire them. Imagine if you met on a regular basis, let’s say once a quarter or every six months, just met up for a coffee when you can with the A team players for your local competitors or people who are perhaps doing a similar job or something else where, who could one day come and work for you? Now they won’t all come and do that, but some of them might at some point and much better just like in marketing, I recommend exactly this approach in marketing, building relationships with people, long before they’re ready to buy from you. You can do exactly the same thing with your staff, building relationships with your potential staff a long time before they may come and work with you and that’s a great way to get to know people long before you’re ready to actually talk about hiring them or offering them a job.

Paul Green:
There’s lots of other things that you could and should be doing. For example, you should be enhancing your profile within your marketplace, but within the IT world of your local marketplace as an influencer because A team players want to go and work for A team players, so you need to position yourself as a top person. You can put together a referral program for your employees. Many of your team already know your next hire. The trick is getting the referral out of them at exactly the right moment, but also making sure you don’t create a little clique within your business of your employees who all know each other and then there is the opportunity to turn some of your B players into A players. And I’ve done a little bit of research on this. I haven’t read the whole book, but I bought it and I had a quick flip through for this podcast.

Paul Green:
It’s a book you can find on Amazon called How to Hire A-Players, Finding the Top People for Your Team, Even If You Don’t Have a Recruiting Department by Eric Herrenkohl. Go ahead and have a look at that book, as I say, I haven’t read the whole book, but the stuff I flicked through look pretty good to me and know that this is one of the most important things for you to do, if you’re going to grow the business and ultimately turn it into a lifestyle business where it pays you an exceedingly large amount of money to own the business, but not to have to run it. You’re going to have to hire a really great staff along the way.

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

Paul Green:
So sticking with the same theme, how do you attract A players in your recruitment adverts? Now I believe that recruitment adverts are primarily a marketing problem rather than a people problem. In fact, I believe the whole of recruitment is a marketing problem because there are great people out there. It’s just how do you reach them? How do you get the right message in front of them at exactly the right time? That sounds like a marketing problem to me. The issue when it comes to recruitment adverts is that all adverts look the same. If you go onto indeed or monster or whatever is the predominant jobs website in your local area and you go and type in whatever you think a third line or a second line technician would type into, look for a job in your area and maybe you’ll see five 10, 20 jobs similar to the jobs that you’ve got that you’d like to fill. They all look the same. They’ve got very samey looking headlines that are very samey looking job roles. They all look the same.

Paul Green:
In marketing, we say that samey kills sales and actually in recruitment we can say a similar thing, samey kills response. It’s kind of simple when you look at it that way, because when you do exactly the same as everyone else in the marketplace, you don’t stand out. You have zero standout ability and that directly affects the response you get from your advert. Now, I wrote a job advert for one of my clients a couple of years ago. I’m going to read just a few lines from it. The headline is this, do not apply for this junior installation engineer’s job. It’s highly unlikely you’d enjoy it and the text reads this, you don’t want this job, trust us, you really don’t. Because even though you’d get full training to become a junior installation engineer, you’d also work very, very hard. Why? Because we’re business name, a busy growing network and AV installation business and we don’t have time for standing around drinking tea and scratching our arses.

Paul Green:
Yes, it actually put that in the advert and the advert goes on from there. It talks about the kind of work that they do, talks about where they work. It talks about the specifics of the job. It talks about ladders, drilling, fixing, lifting things because that’s what’s in that specific job and it talks about what kind of person they’re looking for. In fact, I’ll read it to you. Okay, we suppose there are some benefits. We assume you have no experience, which is okay. In the unlikely event you did want this job and actually got it. You’d work closely with the senior engineer so we could make sure you got excellent training and after an initial three month contract, there’s a strong chance you could be awarded a permanent position. Plus, we might buy you a Mars bar now and again, might. Now the personality of these adverts was matched absolutely directly to my client and they use the advert couple of years ago and they did get a pretty good response.

Paul Green:
They got their new junior installation engineer from it and that’s an advert they can roll out again and again and again. Now you wouldn’t use exactly that advert to hire second or third line techs for your business, but its got some real standout ability to it and that’s the point. You’ve got to stand out. You’ve got to do something completely different. Here’s a format that I think could work very well. Put an advert on your local jobs board and instead of just writing what everyone else writes, take a similar approach. You could say it’s unlikely this is the job for you and your techs could say, we’re looking for a second line, third line technician to work at company name, but this probably isn’t the job for you. Go and have a look at our video to find out why. And that’s it, that’s all that’s in the advert.

Paul Green:
And then the response URL takes them to a recruitment page on your website. And on that recruitment page there’s a video and the video is the actual advert itself. So the text that’s on the job board is just driving traffic. The video is the advert. And what do you put in the video? I would say something that matches your personality. So you might show them your existing office or you might get one of your existing engineers to talk about how much fun they have in the job. Or it might be you talking about how much work this person is going to have to do. Remember A team players are always looking for a challenge. They’re not looking to just sit on their backsides and do very little all day. They’re looking for that challenge. So maybe you talk about how much work there is to do and how many sites there are to look after and how many projects there are to manage and all of that kind of stuff.

Paul Green:
But a video advert gives you five minutes because five minutes is okay for a recruitment video, gives you five minutes to potentially talk to that person, those candidates, rather than the 30 seconds that you would perhaps have if they’re reading a text advert. And I would then make the call to action the way that they apply for the job, a little more difficult than usual. You could for example, put a quiz together. So right from the start they have to prove that they have level two or level three ability or at least Google ability. So you might ask them a series of technical questions that they have to answer and say to them, please send in your CV along with the answers to these questions and email them to, and then there’s a very specific email address and it might be something like 9 out of 10 people won’t get this job@yourbusiness.com, now you’ve got to match all of this to your personality.

Paul Green:
These are just my ideas, things that I would do and in fact I have done it when I was hiring staff in my previous business. Do the things that feel right to you and it will help the person that’s applying for your job get a measure of what kind of business they’re going to work for, but whether you do these video adverts or the kind of job adverts where you’re telling people not to apply, you’ve got to do something that appears to be so, so different from the way your competitors are recruiting.

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
Tell me you’ve got a copy of my free book. It’s called Updating Servers doesn’t Grow Your Business. I wrote it a couple of years ago and it contains within loads of information to get new clients for your MSP. Now you can have it as a PDF anywhere in the world and if you’re in the UK or the USA, we will post a physical paperback copy to you as well. Why do we do this? Because we all know if you’ve got a physical paperback copy in your hands, you’re much more likely to actually read the book, hooray. It’s not a long read, it’s only 44 pages. You could easily read it in the evening and there’s genuinely no downside to requesting a free copy. I send you a free copy, because I’m trying to set up some reciprocity, trying to set up a relationship between you and me and maybe just maybe we’ll go and do some work together down the line. You can get a free copy from my website. It’s paulgreensmspmarketing.com.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Kevin Clune:
Hi, I’m Kevin Clune. I’m the co-founder of mspgrowthhacks.com and author of the MSP Growth Funnel.

Paul Green:
Which is a great book and it’s the book that’s got you onto this podcast Kevin, thank you very much. I actually started to read your book on a flight from England to Scotland, which is not a particularly long flight and it was one of those that when I got back to my hotel I had to keep reading and flicking and flicking, it’s probably one of the best pure MSP marketing books that I’ve ever read. And I believe you and I, we have slightly different approaches to it, but we have very similar opinions and views on how MSP should market. So how did you come to write the book?

Kevin Clune:
We started the blog after exiting at MSP. Really, just by writing one-off articles, I started to get a lot of direct feedback. People were reaching out, they’re asking me questions. And what I realised was that I was giving a lot of, I would call it fractured advice, where I couldn’t really help them in one situation without trying to explain 10 other things that they may… Well, you need to be doing this also, or if you’re doing this, then don’t do this, that kind of thing. So there was always more to it, and the bigger picture, we always started talking about one thing and then our conversation would keep zooming out. And so I realised that we really need something more concrete to go off of and say, yes, here’s what you should do in this situation. But if you back up, 10,000 feet, here’s maybe the overall approach that you should take.

Paul Green:
As you said, you used to own an MSP yourself. When you owned that MSP, were you good at marketing or bad at marketing? And I ask that and of course in the context that most MSPs quite rightfully put their hands up and say, actually we’re not that good at marketing.

Kevin Clune:
So my background is not as a technician or in IT at all. I actually owned a marketing firm before joining an MSP. And I did that not as an owner. My business was acquired. So I had a partner, a customer, we call them partners that was doing managed services very lightly. They were a computer repair company back in 2007 and they started to work on a recurring model. And as a digital advertising consultant, I was helping them generate leads for this new initiative that they were taking managed services. And that’s really how I got into it. So after a while, I ran my business for seven years in the marketing space. I kind of reached a dead end, I lost a very large customer. I was a sole proprietor, that was outsourcing a lot.

Kevin Clune:
And I just kind of had the feeling like I needed a change. So the managed services campaigns that I was running was kind of the most intriguing thing that I had going. And Jeff, who’s my partner now, I worked really well with during that whole process. So it was a natural fit to just go and join their team and then we quickly realised that he is a high level of technical engineer. He needed to focus on that and somebody needed to come in and work on the business and work on the growth. So that’s kind of what we did and how we got to the point we are now.

Voiceover:
It’s the perfect combination really, when you have a high level tech and a high level salesperson or marketer and your view is that most MSPs should be taking a more strategic overview of their marketing. What is it do you think that stops most MSPs from having that strategy and that makes them fall into just a bit of tactical work here and there?

Kevin Clune:
Honestly, I think it’s two different sides of the brain trying to work at the same time. I know like my partner, he’s very technical. He doesn’t think the same way about things that I do, from a creative side. It’s hard to operate full steam using both of those sides of your brain simultaneously. And it’s the same way. I can’t do what he does. That’s kind of the organic look at it. If you look at it into more detail, it’s also time. I mean they’re focused on solving their customer’s problems, which they should be.

Kevin Clune:
Unless you have a full time marketer on staff, which most don’t most actually hire sales first, which I think is also a possibly a mistake especially if we don’t have leads to give, because it kind of just pigeonholes you into doing this cold direct response effort, which kind of in my experience doesn’t really work that well. But that’s really what it is. I think that it’s really difficult to focus on growth, to do the creative side of it and to really understand your customer’s behaviour when you have all of these technical issues and the day to day kind of hanging over your head.

Paul Green:
So if an MSP came to you tomorrow and said, “Look Kevin, we’re not currently doing a great deal of marketing. What could we do or what should we do to get started?” What would you advise them?

Kevin Clune:
So when I actually help MSPs directly, I always start with just having them create a plan from top to bottom. That’s really the best way to see the big picture because if you just start marketing, it’s kind of difficult to build on as you go. And really when things don’t work, you should be constantly pivoting. But at the same time you need something to rely on this concrete that allows you to take that customer from point A to point B. And so that should always be the goal. What you fill in between and what you do, those activities, you might be spending heavily on Facebook ads and then all of a sudden your campaign craps the bed and you need to pivot to something else. That’s fine. The plan is more so how are you going to fill those gaps in the customer process? Getting them from knowing who you are to, signing a deal and then becoming your best customer.

Paul Green:
And just one final question for you, Kevin, which is if you had to pick out one current strategy or tactic that works best at generating more monthly recurring revenue, what would that be? Because of course we all know that monthly recurring revenue is where the real profit lies and selling more to our existing clients. That’s what it’s all about. So what’s the thing you’ve seen that’s working the best right now?

Kevin Clune:
If you want to sell to your existing customers and you want to increase monthly recurring, I rely heavily on email nurturing. I think it works really well still, doing a newsletter, things like that. And that’s the best way to consistently engage with existing customers. Now if you’re talking about new customers, new prospects, getting people in the door directly into your kind of recurring model, that’s when I would say you have to really think about taking that full funnel approach. Do your homework. It’s not as simply as saying, “Oh yeah, send out 10,000 emails or just run this type of LinkedIn ad.” It’s not that simple. So maybe pick up the book.

Paul Green:
No, that’s the perfect answer, isn’t it? Tell us again what the book is called, where we can get it and also your website.

Kevin Clune:
Yeah, so the book is called the MSP Growth Funnel. It’s kind of like I described, we call it a complete guide to marketing and selling managed services, but it’s more about how to build the funnel and how to take your customer from point A to point B. It’s available on Amazon and our website is mspgrowthhacks.com, that’s where we post articles on a weekly basis. We have a newsletter and really we have a little community that we operate there. And so, come on, check out our site and feel free to join.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP marketing podcast, ask Paul anything.

James:
Hi, my name’s James from Contedia. Can you suggest some good email subject lines?

Paul Green:
Thanks James, that’s a great question. It’s actually a very, very big subject. We could do an entire podcast just on email subject lines and that’s because they’re so important. I mean email marketing is getting harder. I think we can all see that. People have too much email, spam filters are becoming very overzealous. Deliverability is an issue, but it really does pay off and mainly because you can use the tracking tools within your CRM to see who is opening and clicking on your emails, which is great for telephone followup. Rather than talk about specific subject lines because you can just Google, best email subject lines. You’ll see literally hundreds and hundreds of specific examples. Let me talk about some of the areas of subject lines and you have to remember that people decide whether or not to open ignore or delete an email based just on two things.

Paul Green:
The name of the sender and they do it based on the email subject line. And this is why emailing people regularly, at least weekly is so critical because you have to build up a trust relationship with those people. So stick to the same sender name each week when you send out promotional emails or educational emails, but it’s your email subject lines that then have to work very hard to get people to decide to open your emails. So for example, several different areas that you could look at. You’ve got your sort of simple no nonsense email subject lines and if you look at any e-commerce purchases you make, often the email subject for those are very, very simple. It’ll say, here’s your order or confirming your order or something like that, now you can use that actually in marketing your MSP, you could simply put as an email subject line regarding your IT support or just your IT support.

Paul Green:
Then we’ve got funny email subject lines and funny really should be something which stands out because it looks amusing to the person who’s reading it within a small number of words of course as well because we’ve got to make sure our email subject lines show up properly in their email clients and controversial or shocking email subject lines can work very, very well. Just got to be very careful with that because it will reflect back upon your business. I tell you what, short email subject lines can work as well and I can’t stop myself from opening an email from someone when it has a single word in the subject line such as Paul, which is my name of course, if someone sends me an email and its just got my name as the subject line, essentially just my first name, I cannot stop myself from opening that email.

Paul Green:
I think the other kind of email subject line is worth attempting and trying as well is something that puts a question in the subject line. Are your laptops encrypted? Question Mark. Now there’s a massive caveat that goes with email subject lines, which is local audiences act in different ways, so if you’re going to try these kinds of different subject lines, I think you should almost do a series of experiments. You could send out emails to the same list, but try these different subject lines and then track open rates because it’s one of the ways that your audience will tell you what kind of subject lines they like. Now, once you find a subject line that outperforms all the others, you can’t just keep using that subject line because it will lose its magic power very, very quickly, but it gives you a guide to what your audience is interested in.

Paul Green:
My email audience is predominantly MSPs and I’ve discovered that MSPs, like things to be straightforward. And we’ve tried humour that doesn’t really work so well. We’ve tried complicated, that doesn’t work. We’ve tried simple, that doesn’t work quite as well for my particular audience as just straightforward telling people what it is that they’re going to get in the email list, but that’s because MSPs I think are very good at email. They’ve got very good email habits and they’re good with filtering and stuff as well. Your audiences might be slightly different in fact, they’re bound to be, so you’ve got to try different things and test and experiment and track the results and let the results guide what kind of email subjects you use.

Voiceover:
How to contribute to the show.

Paul Green:
Talking of email then why don’t you drop me one and tell me what you think of the show or suggest a subject that I should talk about or maybe even a podcast guest. You can put anything in the subject line. Just send it through to hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Corey Munson:
Even for the least tech savvy out there, I think it’s easy to consume and appreciate the benefit.

Paul Green:
That’s Corey Munson from PC Matic. It’s an antivirus vendor with a completely different approach. Instead of assuming all applications are safe and then just black listing, the ones that aren’t, it works the other way around. It assumes all applications are bad unless proven otherwise. The white list approach and he’s going to be telling you next week how you can resell PC Matic to make some money for your MSP. We’re also going to be looking at the website traffic that you drive to your website and how traffic without conversion is completely pointless. And conversion, of course, is getting more people on the phone or requesting meetings with you. And finally we’re going to be talking about the marketing super power of niching in a single vertical. It’s very powerful and I’ll tell you about it next week. See you then.

Voiceover:
Made in the UK, the MSPs around the world Paul Green’s MSP marketing podcast.

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