As the owner of an upcoming MSP, your prowess with handling technology is without question.
Although, building a successful MSP takes more than the technical know-how you possess. It's a hard business that requires great people skills and a focus on sales to start bringing in revenue. If you're just starting out as a solo MSP, you're probably going to be doing all the heavy lifting. When you got to it- Well, here's how it probably unfolded-with a ton of work to do and a big sales target to meet, you somehow stumble your way to the conventional sales techniques that are supposed to work. You cold mail 200 prospects, take hundreds of uncomfortable calls, schedule 5 meetings, and start thinking "Huh, I've gotten a hang of it". Then, it happens- you get turned down at 2 places because the manager had an urgent meeting. Being the relentless free spirit you are, you quickly dust it up and head to the other meetings only to hear "Oh, it's covered by our corporates". You then start to wonder how it's done!
Well, here are 5 common mistakes that you should avoid when setting up your MSP sales engine.
Trying to be everything for everyone
The MSP market is pretty huge with clientele from every possible industry. The needs and requirements change with every client and it is practically impossible for a single MSP to cater to the entire market. So by trying to cater to everyone, you end up catering to no one in the market. The best way to grow an MSP is to pick a niche and grow your expertise around it. If you're an MSP for manufacturing businesses, you'd know their business processes in-depth and offer specialized services that help you stand out in the vertical. Simple things like knowing, "Oh, network outages and interruptions are a common problem in the manufacturing space. So optimizing for downtime is crucial", will create confidence in your clients about your domain expertise.
When word goes out that you really know the space pretty well, you become the go-to option for clients in the manufacturing sector. So, pick a niche and grow!
Relying fully on traditional methods to work
We're not saying don't cold-call prospects, just don't put all your eggs in one basket. The MSP market is very sticky–clients tend to stay with you for quite a while. It is so sticky that only 5% of the market turns over every year with the average sales cycle being 90 days. It means out of every 100 prospects, only 5 look to shift in a year. That's roughly 1 client every 3 months assuming you're able to get them all. So, at this point, it's safe to say that cold calls aren't going to be that effective. So, does this mean cold emails work? Well, maybe. While cold calls and emails aren't as effective as you'd like them to be, it doesn't mean you should skip out on them. They are great tools to put the word out and tell the world you exist. Although, doing only that and hoping you'd generate enough MQLs (Market Qualified Leads) is probably not the best use of time.
What works then?
Events are a great way to attract the right crowd for your business. Don't just attend events, host them too. It is where the actual decision-makers engage with MSPs, besides, events add a personal touch to your outbound efforts. There is no cookie-cutter MSP sales technique that applies to clients from all domains. The best techniques are those that are tailored to work for you depending on your vertical. Keep refining these techniques and diversify your strategies to consistently improve lead generation.
The essence of networking is not to just add new entries to your contact list but to build meaningful relationships in the process. Relationships take time, but they pay off in dividends in the long run.
LinkedIn is a great platform to network and build connections, but cold-mailing them with "Do you want to" or "Are you looking for" messages aren't a great means to starting conversations. At the end of the day, spending time to build a well-engaged network of 50 people is much more valuable than superficially messaging 1000 people who probably won't even open your message. The fundamental pillar of networking is symbiosis. It means to deliver value to get value in return. So spend time with people who could mutually benefit from your service. Play the long game!
Poorly optimized website
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most crucial factors when it comes to lead generation. SEO is the process of increasing the visibility of a website on web pages that are indexed by search engines. Think about how your clients are finding you. 9 times out of 10, it's probably by searching "Best MSP in my location" or "Best MSP for XYZ vertical" on the internet. If your MSP website does not show up on the first page of the search results, chances are, they're never going to find you. While word of mouth is the most effective way to generate leads in the MSP industry, people would still prefer to do their own research online before they reach out to you. So, it doesn't leave a good impression if they have to scroll 5 pages to find your website.
Although, it is important to have realistic expectations when it comes to generating organic leads from SEO. It's pretty decent if you could generate 3 to 5 organic leads a month, especially given the market's notoriously low turn-around and location-specific nature. While the number of leads generated is low, the conversion rate for organic inbound leads through SEO is higher when compared to other methods. Patience is the name of the game.
(If you wish to learn about SEO in depth, don't worry! We've got you covered at the Bugle.)
Not making use of existing customers
Your customers are your biggest brand ambassadors. Having employed your services and benefitted from it, they hold enough credibility to convince a new prospect to at least meet with you. Incentivize your existing clients to do the promotions for you. A great way to do this is to set up referral policies for your customers to bring in new leads. These incentives could be anything from offering support for extra endpoints to referral commissions per deal. While it might not be the most sustainable lead-generation method at scale, it still works wonders for smaller MSPs (especially solo MSPs) that are just starting out!
Another great way to grow your revenue is to upsell to your existing clients. Upselling gives you a unique advantage when it comes to MSP sales because you don't have to spend the time and money to convince clients to take a shot at you. It is also a way of offering better value propositions to people who've trusted their business with your MSP. This helps with client retention as they get more and more invested in your services.
Building a robust MSP sales pipeline roughly takes about 6 to 9 months on average, assuming you check all the boxes. It is also about setting yourself up for luck more than you think. So, it is important to give your MSP every chance to succeed and that takes effort and patience. Successful MSP sales executives don't spend time on generating leads. Great salespeople focus on advisory and spend time creating roadmaps to sell the optimal client infrastructure. After all, sales is about converting leads than generating them!
(Wait, that's not all! Chris Wiser, the founder of 7-figure MSP has a few secret MSP sales hacks up his sleeve—he's shared them on this episode of SuperPod — The no-filter MSP show. Check it out!)