Episode 39: Making the transition from IT supplier to Trusted Partner

Episode 39: Making the transition from IT supplier to Trusted Partner

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Episode 39: Making the transition from IT supplier to Trusted Partner

 
 
00:00 / 00:27:38
 
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In this week’s episode

  • It’s the holy grail of client relationships… becoming a ‘trusted partner’. Making the transition from being just a supplier to actually being a trusted partner will revolutionise your MSP and this week Paul explains how it can be done
  • Also on the show this week, Paul’s joined by a special guest who can not only help you pick the phone up more often, but then go on to build stronger relationships once you have them connected
  • Plus, how can you upgrade your website to help you win more business? Paul has a few simple things you can do that will make a big difference to your marketing. And on the subject of websites, he answers a great question from a listener about how to do split testing

Show notes

Episode transcription

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

Paul Green:
Hello. And welcome to a brand new, fresh episode of the show. Here’s what’s coming up this week.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
I once booked an appointment from a cold call. I booked an appointment with the marketing director at Microsoft. I had him in absolute hysterics within just a few minutes, and he actually turned around to me and said, Michelle, if your organisation has got half your personality, then I will give them a job.

Paul Green:
Also going to look at how you can upgrade your website to win more business. And in a similar theme, I’m going to answer a question from an MSP about how to split test different webpages.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast.

Paul Green:
If you listen to this podcast often, and if you do, by the way, thank you so much for joining a growing audience of MSPs worldwide listening to this podcast. But you’ll have heard me say over the last few weeks that there are only three ways to grow your business. You have to get more new clients. You have to get those clients to buy more often. And you have to get those clients to spend more every single time they buy. And, of course, most MSP owners, they focus all of their marketing attention on getting new clients. Actually, even at a COVID time like this, the fastest way to grow your MSP and ultimately your net profit, which is the goal, isn’t it, just to grow that net profit, is to actually focus more attention on the clients that you already have. So if you think of your business as a leaky bucket, and you’ve got all these… Imagine you’ve got a metal bucket you’re holding it up and it’s full of water, but there are holes in the bottom.

Paul Green:
Now the holes represent you losing clients. Now obviously being an MSP, your holes are very, very small. You’re not losing a lot of water at all, but ultimately some of the water is seeping out of the holes because it’s impossible to have a 100% leak-proof bucket. Some companies, the water comes in at the top and go straight out the bottom as fast and not in our kind of sector. But if you’re in retail and in hospitality, it’s quite hard to keep your bucket full. Now for an MSP, you can plug your big holes and you can have an efficient marketing system that markets as much to existing clients as it does to new clients. And that means then you don’t need to put as much water in at the top. This isn’t the best analogy, but you can see where I’m going with this.

Paul Green:
If the bucket is full, because the amount of water leaking out of it is tiny, you don’t need to put so much water in at the top, i.e. new clients, to keep the bucket full, and a full bucket is a nice profitable bucket. So sometimes, as business owners, we tend to focus all of our attention on our worst clients because they generate the most noise, the ones that shout the loudest. And so they create the biggest headaches and we want the headaches to go away. And it’s very much in our nature. We don’t all do this, but many of us figure that our best clients, we can just leave them to it because they’ve been clients for ages. So it’ll be okay. But here’s the thing. Someone is more likely to switch from one MSP to another because of the small things, the ancillary factors, more than the core service itself.

Paul Green:
So your actual IT support might be better than it’s ever been. But if a long term client feels as though, in their words, things just aren’t as good as they used to be, then you’ve got a problem. Something as simple as a change in the person answering the phone can have a pretty dramatic effect on retention in a good or a bad way. And the answer is to communicate more with your existing clients and never allow them to forget just how critical you are to their business. Now you could introduce a newsletter to do this. I didn’t use to be a fan of newsletters until a couple of years ago. My opinions changed on them, and now I can see that there’s a good return on investment for that. But really what you need a single message communications that just cut through all of the other marketing clutter.

Paul Green:
That means sending them some stuff in the post, physical mail. That means sending them emails on a weekly basis, reminding them, keeping them warmed up about everything that you do for them. It means maybe, now and again, sending a text message, an SMS. Text messages have an amazing way of cutting through because they demand immediate attention. Maybe it’s about putting content in front of them in LinkedIn or on Facebook. You’ve got to find ways of educating your clients, not just the prospects, but the clients, about the issues that are important to them. And then getting them to interact with you and ultimately to buy something else from you. See all of these things will support the work that you do when you do your quarterly business reviews or your strategic reviews, as I prefer to call them, where you’re sitting down or you’re on a Zoom call with the client, and you’re actually formally looking at their business going forward. All of the marketing you’ve done leading up to this point really helps you.

Paul Green:
Now I know you don’t want to encourage unnecessary support calls. I know you don’t want to get work in for the sake of getting work, but you do want your clients. And you want to encourage them to rely on your business for everything, for the important, big picture stuff. You want to be the heart of their own strategic reviews. When they’re planning for the future that it just doesn’t occur to them, that they would use a different MSP. And imagine what the power of this could be because you can advise them on a regular basis on how they can plan their IT for not just for today, but for tomorrow, for next year, for the years ahead. What we’re talking about here is a transition from being just the people who fix the computers. You move from being a supplier, to being a trusted partner. Trusted partners are deeply involved with their clients, or at least there is the perception that they’re deeply involved.

Paul Green:
Because I know if you’ve got 50, a hundred, 150 clients, you can’t be deeply involved with all of them, but you can set up and systemise a process that makes it look like you’re deeply involved with them. Because you do your quarterly business reviews. Because you’re sending them stuff. Because you drop them the old email now, and again. All of this stuff doesn’t have to be random. It can all be systemised. Moving in their hearts and in their minds from being a supplier, to being a trusted partner is a critical thing to do. And it doesn’t have to be difficult when you set it up as a system.

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

Paul Green:
I’ve recently completed a training program. It was called the Great Big Client Grab, and it was quite a comprehensive program to prepare a load of MSPs for the opportunities that are coming up in the autumn when a bunch of business owners are going to decide, well, they’re going to take action on switching to a different MSP. So they’ve already decided they want to switch and leave their incumbent MSP. They just haven’t taken action on it yet. And I believe that September, October, onwards, there’s going to be a mass shift of clients.

Paul Green:
Now, as part of this program, I did a website review for all of my clients. And each one took me around about 20 minutes. This about 10 minutes of prep, looking through the sites, and then 10 minutes doing a screen recording of me looking at their website. And I have to say of the 45 MSPs that we had on that program, probably around about 40 of them had very, very similar websites. They all had very similar headlines at the top. So saying things like, welcome to ABC IT support or a headline like IT support for town, or they all had what I call drizzle.

Paul Green:
And I don’t mean this to be offensive, but drizzle is where you’ve got a whole series of words that are there on your website. And they don’t really mean anything or they’re the same as they could go on anyone’s website. If you call yourself a especially support solutions company that’s forged a reputation for excellence in supporting its customers. What does that mean? Well, there’s two parts to it there. What does that mean? And also anyone could say that. It doesn’t tell me anything about you. It doesn’t differentiate you in any way or show me your unique selling proposition, your USP. Because here’s the thing ordinary people don’t look at 45 MSP websites. They look at three. But even if they look at those three and all three of them appear to be the same, they’ve got the same kind of headlines, the same kinds of drizzle.

Paul Green:
They’ve got the same stock images. They’ve got, dare I say it, pictures of network cables. They all claim to have the highest levels of care. They all claim to have the same quality or the best quality and the most experienced staff. It’s very difficult for ordinary business owners and managers to differentiate between those MSPs. When everyone says the same thing, they all seem quite samey and samey kills sales. It’s why of those 45 websites I looked at, around about five of them were really different, and I’m talking seriously different. They stood out for a number of different ways. Maybe they were more quirky or they were based around the personality of the owner more, or they were just visually more striking, or they were based around cartoons or animations, or they had a lot of video content, or there’s just a lot of real people in there.

Paul Green:
One of the best ones I saw had the clients talking about why they loved the IT support company. These websites were different, and they stood out. Now if they stood out for me, who spends a lot of his time looking at MSPs’ websites, they must have really stood out to the ordinary people, the ordinary decision makers who will be researching those companies. This is a good thing. You want your website to be different because you’ve got to remember the clients and the prospects are not like you. They don’t think about IT support from the second they wake up until the second they slip off to sleep at night. They don’t read IT support blogs and websites. They don’t listen to podcasts like this. They don’t pour over all the new technology that’s coming out, rubbing their thighs in excitement, going, Aw, look at this. It’s a new Surface Pro. It’s amazing.

Paul Green:
No one does that in the normal world. That’s just in our world that that happens. The average everyday normal client. Doesn’t think about IT support all their MSP at all until they need help with something. In fact, this will scare you. Some of your clients, nevermind the prospects, but some of your clients don’t even know what your business is called. You’re just the tech guys to them. Now when you put yourself into this mindset, into the mindset of your clients and your prospects, do you suddenly see how critical it is to utterly differentiate yourself from all of the other MSPs that they could look at? You know, if someone’s looking for a new IT support company, and let’s say they Google the phrase IT support your town. And let’s say they land on your website. Do you know how long you’ve got to grab their attention and make them want to read on? It’s not 30 seconds or 20 seconds, or even 10 seconds. It’s three seconds.

Paul Green:
If you don’t grab their attention in three seconds, they will go elsewhere. They will hit the back button and they will go and look at something else. So this is why samey kills sales. If you use the same kind of generic marketing bumph that all of the other IT support companies use, it’s such a bad idea. Differentiation is what it’s all about. So here’s a challenge for you. What I want you to do is I want you to do that Google search. I want you to look up all of your competitors in your area,. Google IT support, your town. Have a look at the top five, 10, 15 listings that come up and then visually compare them to yours. Do they look the same? Are you the one with the differentiation? Or are you just another one of those IT support companies?

Paul Green:
Because if you’re not getting enough leads coming in off your website, there’s two aspects to it. There’s traffic and there’s conversion. Are you getting enough traffic? And are you converting that traffic enough? And this is a subject we’re going to explore in detail in a future podcast. But this really is something you need to spend some serious time on. Your website is the single most important digital marketing tool that you’ve got. It is literally your shopfront. If you had a physical shop front, you wouldn’t let it degrade and look tired and old.

Paul Green:
You would keep it up to date and you would give it a lick of paint because you know that people wouldn’t turn up and they wouldn’t come inside, if it looked a bit old and a bit naff. And you’ve got to look at your website as exactly the same. It’s worth every single penny that you spend on it. It’s worth every single minute that you invest into making your website as good as it can possibly be.

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
Maybe one idea to improve your website is to post it in a safe forum where your peers can give you a little bit of feedback on it. And do you know what? I’ll give you a bit of feedback as well, because I run a Facebook group. It’s only for MSPs and it’s to discuss marketing and growth ideas, all the kind of things that we talk about on this podcast. It’s very simple to join. You can join nearly a thousand other MSPs from around the world. Just go onto Facebook, type in MSP marketing at the top, go into groups, and you should see my face at the top. Tap on my face, not too hard, please. And then you just have to answer a couple of questions so we can verify that you are, in fact, a proper MSP and you’re eligible to join that group. Go on. Come join me in the MSP Marketing Facebook group. It’s free. And it’s a very powerful resource for you.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
Hi, I’m Michelle Mills-Porter. I’m a master behaviour profiler. I’m a communication expert. My first book was called Phone Genius the Art of Non-visual Communication.

Paul Green:
And tell us about being a phone genius. Because we all know that we should be making more phone calls and calling more prospects, but no one likes doing it. No one likes picking up the phone. So what’s the secret to picking up the phone, calling more people, and getting better results.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
I think the secret is that when you can become a phone genius, when you understand the art of communication non-visually, then actually you make less phone calls. Phone genius. It’s about making those phone calls so good that you actually have to make far fewer.

Paul Green:
So give us an example of something you do to make the phone call more productive.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
I once booked an appointment from a cold call. I booked an appointment with a marketing director at Microsoft and I had him in absolute hysterics within just a few minutes. And he actually turned around to me and said, Michelle, if your organisation has got half your personality, then I will give them a job. And I said, do you mean we’ll get onto the roster? Because organisations like that have a roster and you have to wait your turn. And he said, “No. I will give you a physical job to do so you will jump ahead in terms of the roster queue.” And that was all done in one phone call. And the only secret there was actually being authentic and just showing them lots and lots of personality. I think the key is to actually get your personality across. And most people don’t know how to do that.

Paul Green:
So do you have a system that you recommend to people to do that, to get your personality across?

Michelle Mills-Porter:
Yeah. I think that the whole premise is that you have to understand that when you’re communicating blindfold, there are lots of elements that get in the way of you building rapport and get in the way of you showing your personality. So what we need to do is we need to try and get ourselves across in such a way that actually it’s almost like we’re transported the other side of the phone so that we’re actually sitting in the office with them. The things that you do in order to get there are things such as putting more animation into your voice. One thing that not a lot of people know, Paul, is that when you communicate over digital format, so that’s a phone, or it could be on Zoom or anything that’s digital. What happens is that the digitised version of your voice cuts out loads of your personality.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
So it strips out the inflections. It strips out the bass, the deep notes in your voice, which give you authority when you’re speaking to people, and all the things that it can do to scupper your chances of building rapport can be overcome if you’re aware of them, and if you work on them. So as an example, couple of tips I would give, whenever you’re dealing with somebody over the phone, put more inflections, more light and dark, more light and shade into your voice. Make sure that when you say something authoritative, you go down at the end of the sentence. Because that lower tone is what gives you authority in your voice. And there’s a whole host of tips that I give around that particular subject.

Paul Green:
This is really good stuff, Michelle. And this obviously is useful when you’re actually on the phone. Can you give us some advice to help MSPs actually pick up the phone more often? Whether it’s them that’s doing it, or whether it’s their staff that’s doing it for them.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
Well, I think the first thing you need to do is understand why you’re not picking up the phone. Usually it’s a fear and that fear may be subconscious. But the thing is that people are really good at face to face communication are suddenly putting themselves in an environment where all of those tools are stripped away. So they don’t have the ability to be able to read micro facial expressions. They don’t have the ability to be able to decipher body language and pick up the indicators that we normally get in face to face communication. So it’s almost like putting a blindfold on a child and stuffing them into a room. It is scary if you don’t know where you are. So we have to understand what is it that’s stopping us from getting on the phone and then we need to challenge it. So the only way to challenge those kinds of fears, how am I going to communicate?

Michelle Mills-Porter:
How am I going to build as much rapport? They can’t see me. They can’t see my body language and they can’t see the whites of my eyes. How am I going to make that happen? You have to transfer it all to your voice and you have to make sure that your voice is giving exactly the right messages, the messages that your body language and your eye contact would normally do. As an example, Paul, if you think about the quality of the different phone lines that you can use, there is a big clue there.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
If you and I were speaking on a mobile phone here, if it was mobile phone to mobile phone, then actually the quality is going to be really bad. I think it’s about 12 to 14 kbps, which is kilobytes per second. That is the kind of quality of a phone call. You’ll get it. If you revert to a landline, you’re probably looking at 64 kbps, which is astronomically better. Now what that does is it captures more of the personality and the inflections in your voice and enables you to get more of your personality across. I don’t know if you know just how bad mobile phones are in terms of your ability to build rapport. Did you know that, Paul?

Paul Green:
No. I didn’t know that actually. That’s fascinating.

Michelle Mills-Porter:
If you’re using a phone, if somebody can’t hear you because you’re using a mobile phone and they can’t hear you clearly, imagine this. Your subconscious mind may take you to thinking about what happens when you see somebody face to face. If you can’t hear them face to face, it’s usually and I’m doing it now. It’s usually because they’re hiding their face. They’re hiding their mouth. Now in body language terms, most people will tell you if somebody is hiding their mouth when they speak, it’s because they are lying or because they don’t like what they’re saying. Either way, it creates distrust. Now if you strip away that visual sense and imagine that you’re listening to somebody over the phone, and you can’t hear them clearly, your subconscious mind may very well take you to an alarm bell that says don’t trust this person. So actually when you’re picking up a mobile phone to speak to a hot prospect and they can’t hear you clearly because you’ve used a mobile phone and not a land line, you could be creating distrust.

Paul Green:
That’s fascinating. And I guess it also explains why Zoom and Teams and the other video conferencing platforms are better ways to do sales meeting because obviously we can see that person although we haven’t got eye contact with them. But also the audio quality tends to be a little bit higher as well. Is that something that you’ve found?

Michelle Mills-Porter:
Yeah, but you can have problems, and I think this is the reason why Phone Genius is so important because you can be on a Zoom call or you can be on another platform. And suddenly the video will stop working, your camera will start working, or the quality for the line goes down, and you get to that place again of wondering whether you can trust that person because you can’t hear them clearly. So it’s really good to make sure, and especially if you’ve got a bad connection, and you’re speaking over each other, there’s a delay, or it’s not in sync with the way that the person is moving their mouth. Sometimes it’s actually better for you to say, do you know what? Let’s take video off this and just go on to audio because then the broadband will be better, we’ll have a better quality relationship. If you have the confidence to be able to speak to somebody without that visual aid, and you’ve got all the tools to do it, then it can really save the day.

Paul Green:
This is really good stuff, Michelle, thank you. Could you tell us a little bit more about and Phone Genius and give us your website address?

Michelle Mills-Porter:
Phone Genius needs to be updated actually. It’s for sale on Amazon. And I think you can get any book for stupid money. It’s been in print since 2014. And my website is just me. It’s Michelle Mills-Porter limited and it’s MMP limited. So there’s only one Michelle Mills-Porter on the planet. If people do want to get in touch, I would strongly suggest just find me on LinkedIn and tell me that you’ve seen me here. And then I’ll be able to accept you immediately. I do a whole host of analysis that I’ve built myself, created myself, and they all stem around human communication. So it’s the non-verbal communication. It’s the non-visual communication, and it’s behaviour profiling as well.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing podcast. Ask Paul anything.

Elly Whitehead:
Hi. My name is Elly Whitehead from Evaporate. How do you do a split test on a webpage?

Paul Green:
Great question, Elly. Thank you very much. Let’s establish first of all, what a split test is. Well, we are being subjected to split tests online all the time. A split test is where you take a page, let’s say a web page, and let’s call that page A, and then you create a different version of it. Let’s call that page B. And on page B, you change one element. The element might be the headline. You might have different text for that. Or you might have a different photo or you might move things around and put some things in different positions, but typically you just change one element, and then you divert your traffic so that half of your audience goes to page A, the other half of your audience goes to page B. Now they don’t know that there are different variations. They just think they’re going to the page. But you can have a look then and say, right. We sent a hundred people to page A and two people pressed the button or did the thing you wanted them to do.

Paul Green:
We sent a different hundred people to page B, and five of them pressed the button. Which of those is the more successful page? And you can see the answer is quite clear from that. These are the kind of tests that the online giants are doing on us all the time. Amazon, eBay, Google, Facebook, all of these guys, Apple they’re constantly split testing pages. In fact, they’re probably doing something called multivariate testing when they’re actually trying lots and lots of different changes in one go. And the reason they can do this with confidence is because they have huge amounts of traffic. Can you imagine how many people visit Amazon every day or every week or every month? So they get so much traffic that they can do really, really statistically sound split tests and multi-variate tests. In fact, the reason that the Amazon page looks the way it does is because of split testing.

Paul Green:
They use the data. They made the change that increase the sales. It’s why if you look at it, Amazon pages are ugly. They’re horrendous. If you look at it, no one in their right minds, no designer, would ever sit down and arrange such a long, complicated, difficult page. And yet that’s the page that sells more stuff. And that’s why we have that page. And I’m sure they are testing the layout and all the different elements of that page absolutely continuously. So how do you do a split test? Well, you can do a split test for free using some software called Google Optimize. So you already have Google Analytics sat in your website. Google Optimize is, I think, just another line of code that you add in, and it’s a little bit geeky to get set up. You can probably find someone on Fiverr dot com to get it set up for you, but essentially Google Optimize creates a second version of a page for you so you don’t have to.

Paul Green:
Isn’t that just wonderful? So you take your A page, you tell Google Optimize about it. It creates an identical B page, and then you can change one element. And then Google Optimize will handle the traffic for you so it will do the split testing for you. And it will tell you which of them is the more powerful page. The thing you’ve got to bear in mind here is that your split tests are going to be very slow because you’re not getting huge amounts of traffic. I mentioned statistical significance, really to get that in a split test, you need at least 333 people going through an A B page variation. And that’s the minimum. There are many companies that wouldn’t place any statistical significance, unless they’d had thousands of people going through a couple of pages. And that’s going to take you quite some time to do that.

Paul Green:
You’ve also got to bear in mind that people who are buying from an MSP, are not just buying a thing online. Split testing really was designed for e-commerce. It helps e-commerce sites and software subscription sites to get more out of it, but it’s still a valid tool for you. Because something as simple as getting someone to book a 15 minute appointment using Calendly or Microsoft Bookings, that’s the kind of outcome that you want from a page. And maybe you could split test different variations of that page to find out what’s most persuasive to get more people to book. So go and have a look at Google Optimize. See if that’s the kind of thing that you could use to be constantly running a split test on your website.

Voiceover:
How to contribute to the show.

Paul Green:
Do me a favour. Would you? And can you send in a marketing question that I can answer? You can either record an audio file on your phone and just email it through to me. hello@PaulGreensMSPmarketing.com, or you can go onto my website onto this podcast page. That’s just forward slash podcast and there’s a little orange button underneath every podcast now. It’s called speak drive. You can just press that button, record an audio message, and it will send it to me automatically. I’d really appreciate your marketing question for this podcast.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Alan Butler:
MSPs that are not traditionally in security, but they have end users asking them to support them are now considering how do I do this?

Paul Green:
Alan Butler from Datto. He’s going to be here next week talking about their state of the MSP report. We’re going to look at how Coronavirus has affected MSPs around the world. We’re also going to examine why you need more and more and more monthly recurring revenue and we’ll look as well at the need for offering more security solutions in the future. It’s a fascinating interview and I can’t wait to play that to you next week. We’re also going to look at the link between confidence and competence. It’s something really critical that you need to understand both for your own performance and also to get the most out of your team. We’re also going to answer a question from an MSP about how to position yourself as an expert in your marketing. And I’m going to be telling you about something that Google has quietly introduced, called Core Web Vitals. It’s something that’s going to make quite a significant difference to your performance in search results in the years ahead. I’ll tell you everything that you need to know and what actions you need to take in next week’s podcast. See you then.

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

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