Episode 94: Are you the most expensive MSP in town? You should be

Episode 94: Are you the most expensive MSP in town? You should be

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Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 94: Are you the most expensive MSP in town? You should be
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In this week’s episode

  • Do you feel uncomfortable about submitting a quote in a proposal or increasing your prices? Many MSPs worry about this, but this week Paul explains why you should always be the most expensive MSP in town
  • Speaking of proposals, how do you stop wasting time submitting proposals to people you never hear from again? This week’s featured guest talks about the importance of capturing your prospect’s ‘story’ before and during the process of creating a proposal
  • And live events have finally returned! Heard about DattoCon 21? It’s back, bigger and better, for 3 days in October. Now as a hybrid event, you can win either a place at the event in Seattle or VIP places for the virtual experience – just for listening

Featured guest

Reuben Swartz is the guest on Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Thank you to Reuben Swartz from Mimiran for joining Paul to talk about how MSPs can create better proposals.

A software engineer to who accidentally became a sales and marketing consultant. He built Mimiran, the CRM for solo consultants who love serving clients but hate selling, the CRM he wished he’d had when he was trying to use tools built for his much bigger clients. When not working, Reuben is probably trying to keep up with his wife, his twins or his dog.

Connect with Reuben on LinkedIn.

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh, every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
Hi there and welcome back to the show. Here’s what’s coming up for you this week.

Reuben Swartz:
MSPs, for various reasons, often write some of the worst proposals, and then they complain that sales is hard and that the customer only compares people on price.

Paul Green:
We’re going to be talking this week about why you should be the most expensive MSP in your town. There’s just too much competition in the middle of the market. And frankly, you don’t want to be the cheapest in town at all. Later on, we’ll discuss why you should be the most expensive and exactly how you can do it. Plus, we’ve got such a great giveaway this week. Producer James is going to be here later on telling you how you can win an in-person or a virtual VIP place at the huge DattoCon 21 event happening this year. Three days of sessions, networking, and insights, just for MSPs. You’re going to love it. And we’ll tell you how you could win a VIP place later on in the show.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
I’m a little bit of a productivity geek. You put some technology in front of me that’ll help me save time or get more things done, or just generally make life easier, and I’m seriously up for that. And a couple of weeks ago, I started using something called TextExpander. Now there are dozens of services that do exactly the same thing. Some are free. TextExpander costs, I think it’s about $4 a month, something like that. But the basic idea with TextExpander is wherever you are in your computer, whichever program you’re using, you can just use a couple of basic keyboard shortcuts to copy and past in some common texts. So, for example, I have a number of standard replies when I’m setting up guest interviews for this podcast. Cause I actually do that myself. I handpick our guests, and I email the guests.

Paul Green:
So if now I’m setting up a guest interview and they asked me, what are, fairly standard common questions about the format of the show and all of this kind of thing. Whereas, previously, I’d have to go and find that either in a notepad somewhere or find it on an email. Now I just type in Z-I-N-T, the int as an interview, “z-int” and in my email, I hear this little sound. In fact, I’ll play you the sound. So that’s the sound of TextExpander, and it means that it’s just found the thing that I’ve typed. So I typed “z-int”, and it’s now pasted in that text. And what’s really cool is you can use some scripts with it as well. So if I copied the person’s name, and then I fire “z-int,” it will actually insert that person’s name for me.

Paul Green:
Can you see how this is just saving me so much time? Anything that you type over and over again, you can create as a keyboard shortcut. I absolutely love it. Even down to now when I sign off an email. So I always type “cheers, Paul,” at the end of an email. I don’t know why I do that. I’ve been doing that for about 15, 20 years. It’s just something I do. And for years and years and years, by force of habit, I’ve just typed. Cheers, Paul. Now I don’t. I type “Z.,” and that instantly brings up “cheers, Paul,” and then adds another couple of return breaks as well. And I really need to set up the script where it will send the email because I’m going to use that in an email so I can set it up so that it will press the keyboard shortcuts of whatever it is on Gmail, to actually send that email as well.

Paul Green:
Now I know that’s only saving me, let’s say, three seconds every single time I send an email. But if that saves me a minute a day, that’s five minutes a week, that adds up to a couple of hours a year. Over the lifetime of me running my business, that’s going to save me hours and hours and hours, maybe a day. And I know that sounds ridiculous, but actually, it’s the little thing isn’t it? It’s the compound effect. If you’re saving a little bit of time here and a little bit of time there, that’s a very smart thing to do. So do have a look at TextExpander. We’ll put a link to it in the show notes. There is pricing for teams. So you can actually share it with your team, which makes me think for a support team, that would be a very sensible thing to do. Obviously, you have to pay a little bit more than that, but it’s completely cloud-based, and that’s why you can share it out amongst your team or just use the personal one or get a free one. There are all sorts of free ones out there. There are plenty. If you just type in TextExpander alternatives, then you’ll find them there on Google. But do have a look at this. If you ever find yourself typing the same thing over and over again.

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

Paul Green:
Now, this might sound crazy, but I believe that you should be the most expensive MSP in your marketplace. Premium people are attracted to a service they believe to be independent, bespoke, and high quality. And that’s how you should be positioning your business, because yes, the best clients expect to pay more for quality products and great service. By being more expensive, you could actually win more business as people will want to be with you, and they will want to stay with you, the right kind of people, not the penny-pinches, but you don’t want the penny-pincher clients. You really don’t.

Paul Green:
Now thinking outside of our world, some dentists are very good at this. They seem to charge very, very high prices. And those that charge the highest prices often have a waiting list to join their dental practice. And they have very loyal clients who don’t leave because they know that there’s a waiting list to get in. And the dentists do this by offering the highest quality. So they have longer appointments, they have more equipment, they have better products, they have better offices. And so, because of all of this, they get the very best clients in town who are willing to pay a little bit more for the best. They don’t get those low-value, hassle clients who query the bills, who moan a lot and just aren’t particularly compliant. No one wants those clients. In fact, if you have some of those clients now, then you absolutely must actively change your marketing, your packaging, to scare those low-quality clients off and simply attract a better quality of clients.

Paul Green:
Now, one pleasant side effect of charging a little bit more for a premium service and being the most expensive in town. It means that your gross profit margins are likely to be higher, which is going to give you a much better chance of a better net profit. Because of course, the net profit is what’s left at the end. Isn’t it? It’s your money to take out of the business once you’ve paid tax on it. So there’s no downside to being the most expensive. The only thing that’s going to stop you from doing it is fear. But Paul, what if we’re too expensive, what if we’re too expensive and we put people off? Well, the good news is you can just nudge your prices up to do this. You don’t have to instantly put your prices up and be the most expensive, just like that on day one. What you can do is just nudge it up. I’m talking here about being more expensive for new clients.

Paul Green:
So take your prices right now, whatever they are per-user or per seat, or per device, however you do it, just add a couple of quid, a couple of dollars on. And then when you win the next client, add a few more quid on, and the next client add a few more on. The market will soon tell you when you’ve reached what is acceptable in your marketplace because depending on where you are will depend on what that is. Some areas, you can get away with charging a lot more than you can in other areas. The only way to find out is to be constantly nudging your prices up, but never, ever be scared to be the most expensive in your marketplace. It is really the route to better clients who stay longer, pay more, and ultimately, they make you more money.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

James Lett:
Hey, this is producer James. This is the fourth prize we’ve given away, and live events are back. This podcast has nearly reached its 100th episode, and the prizes are getting bigger. Your MSP could be getting so much out of this month’s prize. You will be inspired at DattoCon 21, a huge three-day event between October 11th, and 13th and wherever you are, you’ll enjoy a valuable experience. Be that in-person in Seattle, or if you can’t travel or you’re in the UK, elsewhere in the EMEA region, Australia, or wherever you are in the world, the virtual aspect is going to be exceptional. There’ll be loads of experts, fellow MSPs, local champions, new developments, insights, and chances to network. The first-ever hybrid DattoCon is due to be the biggest and best yet. And, of course, you don’t need to be a Datto customer to attend. As I thank you for listening, right now, you can win either an in-person place at DattoCon being held at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle or if you can’t make it in person, two VIP virtual places. So this is what you need to do. Just go to this special page paulgreensmspmarketing.com/win. Pop in your details and click enter. A winner will be drawn at random at some point after we closed at midnight UK time this Sunday, September 5th. So good luck. Enter right now at paulgreensmspmarketing.com/win.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Reuben Swartz:
Hi folks, Reuben Swartz here. Founder of Mimiran the CRM for solo consultants who love serving clients but hate selling, which I accidentally built because I thought for the longest time that the last thing the world needed was another CRM, but it turns out that we do. I’m also the host and Chief Nerd on the Sales for Nerds podcast. And I’ve done a lot of work with MSPs, and I guess I’m a technical person myself. I think I get that notion of some of us have a little bit more interest in technology than the sales and marketing that we need to actually build a business around that technology. And Paul, I’m just really happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Paul Green:
No, it’s a pleasure. And thank you for coming on, and you have a much, much better podcast name than I do. Sales for Nerds is just such a great podcast title. It really is.

Reuben Swartz:
Oh, thanks.

Paul Green:
I’m going to steal that. I might make this MSP Marketing for Nerds.

Reuben Swartz:
There we go.

Paul Green:
There we go. It’s a sister podcast. So there are literally 15 different things that I could talk to you about. And we’re going to have to get you back on the show in 2022 to address another sales issue for us, another sales area. What I wants to talk about today, though, is proposals because I know this is one of your specialist areas and most MSPs or many MSPs really struggle to get across what they want to get across in their proposals. Do you find that?

Reuben Swartz:
I have seen a lot of really bad proposals in my time, and I’ve written some really bad proposals in my time, I have to admit. And I think MSPs, for various reasons, often write some of the worst proposals. And then they complain that sales is hard and that the customer only compares people on price. And gosh, this is just awful. And I hate this, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Paul Green:
And is it just MSPs that have terrible proposals, or do you see this widespread across a number of different sectors?

Reuben Swartz:
It’s pretty bad for most people. I think a lot of us learn the wrong lessons about what our proposal is. And I know I did when I started. And so one of my mantras now is, a proposal is a story, not a brochure. A lot of us tend to write brochures that happened to have the customer’s name and logo on the front, and we call it a proposal. And then we wonder why they’re not so eager to sign. We’ve got to create a story starring the customer. And I think for MSPs, a lot of times, there’s so much technical detail on jargon in there, and you might be very comfortable with that as an MSP, but the whole reason you’re there is because the customer’s not comfortable with it. So I’ve seen 10, 20 page proposals filled with tech specs and all kinds of nonsense. You can read through it. And even if you understand all the technology, it’s still not clear how you are solving the prospect’s problem. So if you’re handing over that kind of brochure to somebody, and you’re wondering why they’re not signing, make sure that you’re starting from their perspective and telling their story.

Paul Green:
One of the things I talk about on this podcast a lot, and certainly when we’re looking at things like websites and other types of marketing, is how you’ve got to connect with people at an emotional level. Would you argue that proposals are exactly the same?

Reuben Swartz:
Absolutely. I think we like to think that we’re rational creatures, and especially if you’re a techie-based person, we like to think that we’re rational, and it’s not that we’re irrational. It’s just that we have to use emotion if we’re going to change how we do things. We all have a million things on our to-do list. I call it eating more broccoli. We all know we should eat more broccoli and less chocolate or whatever. But unless we go to the doctor and they tell us we’re going to drop dead of a heart attack or something like that, unless we’re worried about something emotionally, it’s really hard to change because we have so much going on. And I think, especially, if you’re just showering people with tech specs and not connecting with their story, you’re not going to get them to make a change.

Reuben Swartz:
So when we tell the story in the proposal, we want to understand not just the technical pain and not just the business pain, but the real-life pain behind that. And that’s where the emotion lies. It might be that their systems go down every once in a while, and that cost them X thousands of dollars or euros or pounds or whatever it might be. But the real issue is they’re there on Friday night instead of home with their family because they’re trying to deal with the fallout from the technical problem. And if we can understand that, then we can say, I’m going to solve your problems. So you’re going to be home with your family at the end of the week. Then they want to take action because that’s their real problem.

Paul Green:
So it’s easy enough to say this, and it makes completely perfect sense hearing you say it, but how do you actually do that in what is essentially just a document? Just something that’s on a screen or something that you print off and that you give to them. How do you do it?

Reuben Swartz:
The real work happens before the proposal because while the proposal is a story, there shouldn’t be some suspense of, oh gosh, does our hero make it or not? We know the hero is going to succeed with your help. That means we have to have the right conversations with people ahead of time to understand what’s happening. If I went to a doctor and I said, “doc, my knee is hurting, I think I need a knee replacement.” And they said, “okay, great. We’ll operate right now. Just sign here.” That would be very worrisome, right?

Paul Green:
That would be terrifying.

Reuben Swartz:
We want people to act that way because we’ve got this expensive thing to sell them. And instead, we have to ask all the questions like the doctor would. Like, why are you doing this? What’s going on? What’s the impact of that? And I like to think of it because I’m a terrible salesperson and I hate selling. If I was talking to a friend about this problem, there was not going to be any money involved, but there’s the, hey, Reuben, I’ve got this thing that I know, you know a little bit about. Can I ask you about proposals or whatever it might be? We would talk, and I would want to make sure that I really understood their problem so that I could really help them. And we want to treat our prospects and customers the same way, just like a friend, just like a doctor would a patient. I got to ask a bunch of questions. Something that may be useful for people, and maybe we can put a link in the show notes. I’ve got, literally, a fill-in-the-blank proposal template that I use that a lot of my customers use. And the idea is that if you familiarise yourself with the blanks that you need to fill in, you know what questions you need to ask along the way.

Paul Green:
Yeah, absolutely. We’ll stick that in the show notes. And as a quick aside, you’re the first guest in, what are we, 90 odd episodes who’s actually asked to have a specific link to a downloadable resource on their website. So, genuine round of applause because that’s excellent marketing. That’s just crazy good marketing that is. And for future guests, please do that because what you get is you get the most interested people visiting your website to download the template and start this engagement process. And that’s really what we’re talking about here. Isn’t it? We’re talking about the proposal being almost like the formalised version of the engagement that you’ve done with them during the selling meeting.

Reuben Swartz:
Right. I used to think that, okay, I’ve had my conversations with them. Now I’m going to go, be really brilliant and wow them with my proposal. That creates a very stressful process for you because you’ve got to try to think of something brilliant, and you don’t know what you’re doing. And I get reminded of this now because some of my customers will call me. “Hey, Reuben, I’m wondering should I be onsite or offsite? Should I do hourly or project-based billing?” And I’m thinking, well, thank goodness you picked up the phone and called someone. You just called the wrong person because I can’t answer that question. I don’t know the answer. So we’ve got to do all that work ahead of time so that if you imagine you’re in one of those meetings, they’re describing their problem, you’re listening, you’re describing possible solutions. You’re developing that solution collaboratively, everything seems good. And they say, can you send me a proposal? Basically, you’re just going to summarise the conversation. They’ve already written it for you. You’re more of an editor than the author of the proposal.

Paul Green:
It makes you wonder how we ever got into this world of having proposals. Doesn’t it? What was probably once just a, oh, could you just send me a letter just to summarise what we were talking about has turned into an art form. And in fact, you’ve got software out there that will create your proposals for you. It’s kind of crazy. Let’s talk about pricing. So a lot of MSPs feel pricing pressure. I’ve always been a big fan that you should be at the top of the market. The worst place to be in any marketplace is in the middle with everyone else. So therefore, your options are either to be at the top in terms of price as the most expensive or to be at the bottom. And you really don’t want to be at the bottom because that’s just a way of not making much money out of your business. And yet every MSP that I speak to about this has that nervousness of, oh, we don’t want to be too expensive because it will make us uncompetitive. Pricing, I believe, is one of the factors that make people buy you, but not the only factor. What have you seen with the MSPs that you’ve worked with?

Reuben Swartz:
Well, it’s funny because that pricing pressure complaint is very, very common, and I think no one wants to spend money unnecessarily. So that’s perfectly understandable. But what usually happens is the MSPs haven’t differentiated themselves. And then they hand over a proposal, and the prospect’s sitting there reading 3, 4, 5, however many different proposals they’ve got that are all bunch of techno-jargon that the prospect doesn’t really understand. And so they’re like, okay, I know I need to do something. I’m so mad at my existing MSP, or I’m sick of having my brother-in-law fix the stuff for me. I’m going to hire someone. But the only thing I understand is the price. So obviously, I’m going to pick the lowest one, unless it makes me so uncomfortable. So I’ll pick the second lowest one, something like that. We’ve created that situation.

Reuben Swartz:
We don’t go to the Mercedes dealer and say, but I can get the Kia down the street for a quarter of the price. Why can’t you give me this for a quarter of the price? Now, not everyone wants the Mercedes. Some people want the Kia, that’s all fine, but we have to understand what we’re doing. And we have to communicate that to the client. And that’s where listening and developing that story together becomes so important.

Reuben Swartz:
So what I like to help people do is really be able to tell that story from the perspective of the client. So they have three proposals that are full of garbage or not garbage, but a bunch of technobabble that doesn’t make it clear you even understand the problem, let alone how to solve it. And then you’ve got one proposal that says, Hey customer, I understand why you’re here, what the implications are, why that’s so bad, what you’d like to fix, what was wrong with your last MSP relationship, what you’re trying to do from a business perspective, and a life perspective. And here’s how we’re going to get there. And you can understand it. There’s no techno-jargon in here whatsoever. And it’s a reasonable investment in maybe considerably more than some of those other proposals out there, but it’s going to solve your problem.

Reuben Swartz:
Guess what? That’s what the business owner wants. They want to solve their problem. They are not just trying to find the cheapest MSP they can find. Now there may be some people who will, because they don’t value anything and they just want the cheapest option. And to your point, those are probably not the customers that you want to be attracting anyway. It doesn’t mean you have infinite headroom for pricing, but the first part is making sure that you understand their problem and that you’re going to solve it. That’s going to help you stand head and shoulders above most of the crowd.

Reuben Swartz:
Now, the other thing you can do is you can offer more than one option in one proposal. So you don’t just have to say, here’s our platinum package or whatever. You might say, here’s our platinum package, here’s our gold package, here’s some other things that we talked about that you can add on if you’d like, or that maybe we should do in a future phase because people are going to value different things in different ways. And we know when we buy something that we’re not familiar with, it can be hard to figure out exactly what we want to do. I always use the case of, imagine we’re hiring someone to do landscaping in our yard. We might have to go back and forth and understand what we’re going to get for how much money so we can find the right thing for us. Make it easy for your prospect to do that with you as well. Instead of just giving them one number with one package, and then, naturally, they’re going to probably find some things in there that they don’t really need right now. And they’re going to say it’s too expensive.

Paul Green:
I completely agree. I absolutely love this Reuben. I’m going to just do some quick-fire questions at you about proposals. And so I’m looking for short answers on these.

Reuben Swartz:
I’ll try to be shorter.

Paul Green:
And we are definitely getting you back on the show next year because I feel that you and I could talk for hours about this kind of stuff. So, short, rapid-fire questions. Number one, you talked about hovering different offerings. What are your thoughts on good, better, best, or having a bronze, silver, gold package?

Reuben Swartz:
I think it’s great. I think you want to do that based on your conversations with the prospect. If you don’t know exactly what they want, you give them the options that you’ve discussed.

Paul Green:
Yep. I agree with that as well. This is going to be one of those awful interviews where we just agree about everything. Next rapid-fire question is how much did you talk about your business in the proposal? Because although it’s their story, at some point, they’re going to want to know a little bit about you as well.

Reuben Swartz:
I think for a paragraph or two, and then I like to do the proposals online via my tool, of course. And so I’ll have a 10 to 20 second video in there where I say, Hey, Paul is so glad we got connected. Hope this addresses your problems. Let me know if you have any questions and so on. And then, if you’d like, include a customer quote in there. So instead of you talking about yourself, you’ve got one of their peers talking about how great you are.

Paul Green:
A little bit of social proof. Absolutely. I always say to MSPs, whenever you send out a proposal, be it on email or print it or whatsoever, make sure you enclose a photo of yourself, a recent photo of yourself as part of that because they don’t remember the company name. They don’t remember your brand and all of that kind of stuff. What they remember is how you made them feel. So if you’ve had a really good meeting with someone, they’re associating that good feeling with your face, and if your face is missing from the proposal, obviously that’s an issue for them. And that brings me onto my final question then, and you may have answered it, but printed proposal, email proposal, both, what’s the most efficient way to get it into their hands and get them to read it?

Reuben Swartz:
Well, if you’re using a system like mine, you send them a link rather than an email. And then the nice thing is you get a notification whenever they’re actually reading it. So you can call at the right time, and you never have to leave one of those voicemails, like, “Hey, just wondering if you had any questions on my proposal?” And then you can also do nice things like embed a video, let them select options dynamically, and let them sign it online. So I would definitely advocate for that. I think the other thing is if you can present it either in person or present it over the internet so that you’re going through it together, and if there are questions or issues, you can resolve them right away.

Paul Green:
Yeah. That makes absolute, perfect sense. So tell us about Mimiran and what can it do, and why is it perfect for MSPs?

Reuben Swartz:
Well, the first thing is I started out just as a way to automate proposals because I got sick of leaving those fricking voicemails. Like, Hey, just wondering if you had any questions on this proposal. And then people started using that, and they wanted to do lead generation. And I realised that online lead generation for small consultancies was broken. And then people asked me for CRM because I said, oh, I love that I can get leads and close them, but I hate using Salesforce or my spreadsheet or whatever there is in the middle of that process. And I spent years saying, no, the world doesn’t need another CRM. And I finally realised that it did. And so Mimiran has just a whole different take on CRM, starting with helping you with your positioning and helping you create social leaderboards with peers, doing lead gen. And, of course, doing proposal automation all the way through to electronic signature.

Paul Green:
And what’s you website address?

Reuben Swartz:
It’s mimiran.com. M-I-M-I-R-A-N.com

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.

Jamie:
Hi, this is Jamie Warner over Invarosoft. We produce a customer experience platform for MSPs, and the book that I recommend is the best book in the world. It’s called Monetizing Innovation. It’s how smart companies design the product around the price. So if you’ve been thinking about how to package and price your MSP services, this is the book which will teach you all the secrets about the wonders of good, better, best. It’s the best book to help you increase your conversion and grow your MSP.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Paul Green:
We’ve got a special episode for you next week. The normal format is scrapped, and we’re going to do a deep dive into website traffic. Far too many MSPs have very lonely websites sitting there with no friends, no one ever visits them. So, next week we’ll talk about 10, 11 plus sources of traffic, ways that you can send more traffic to your website. It’s going to be a great special one-off deep dive. And I look forward to presenting it to you next week. See you then.

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

 

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