Tips and Tricks of Selling and Marketing for MSPs Business

Sales and marketing can feel like busy work that takes you away from your billable tasks. To keep business flowing and achieve your revenue goals, you have to put yourself out there and do some selling. The good news is, it’s easy to master the basics of sales and marketing.

Tips and Tricks of Selling and Marketing for MSPs Business
Tips and Tricks of Selling and Marketing for MSPs Business

This article provides tips and tricks intended to make selling and marketing your services as painless and effective as possible.

Contents Include:

  • Getting Started with Marketing
  • Reaching More Customers
  • How Do I Take Advantage of Social Media?
  • How Else Can I Generate Leads?
  • Selling Your Services for Your Business Today

Content Summary

DO I REALLY HAVE TO SELL?
GETTING STARTED WITH MARKETING
How Do I Stand Out From Competitors?
How Do I Figure Out My Differentiators?
Who Should I Sell To?
REACHING MORE CUSTOMERS
Do I Really Need a Website?
What About SEO?
Should My Website Have a Blog?
What About Mobile Devices?
HOW DO I TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?
How Often Should I Post?
What Kind of Voice Should I Use For My Social Media Posts?
HOW ELSE CAN I GENERATE LEADS?
Does Cold Calling Really Work?
How Do I Run an Email Campaign?
Are Pay-Per-Click Online Ads Worth It?
My Customers Love Me. Can I Take Advantage of That For Marketing?
SELLING YOUR SERVICES
What Sales Process Should I Follow?
How Do I Handle Objections?
Isn’t Upselling Pushing People to Buy Stuff They Don’t Want?
How Do I Build a Great Sales Team?
What Kind of Compensation Should My Sales Team Get?
START SELLING FOR YOUR BUSINESS TODAY

DO I REALLY HAVE TO SELL?

We know. Sales and marketing can feel like busy work that takes you away from your billable tasks. It would be so much simpler if customers just called you up and asked for the services they needed on a regular, steady basis.

To keep business flowing and achieve your revenue goals, you have to put yourself out there and do some selling.

The good news is it’s easy to master the basics of sales and marketing. In this eBook, we’ve pulled together tips and tricks intended to make selling and marketing your services as painless and effective as possible.

GETTING STARTED WITH MARKETING

What are you selling—and who are you selling it to?

How Do I Stand Out From Competitors?

For starters, you need a strong value proposition. That’s the part where you tell a potential customer why they need your services and why they should choose you instead of the competition.

A good value proposition should be:

Relevant: Don’t just tell them what you offer; tell them how it will make their lives easier. To do that effectively, you need to understand your customers. Who are they? What kinds of problems do they have? What do they need to make their businesses run better? Speak directly to their issues, and you’ll have a better chance of being heard.

Instead of: “We offer IT services.”
Try: “We focus on your IT concerns so you can focus on your business.”

Quantified: Once you’ve told them which problems you’re going to solve, you need to tell them how you’re going to do it. Which offerings will solve their issues? And how?

Instead of: “We make your business run better.”
Try: “Save time and money with our IT services.”

Differentiated: This one is the trickiest. In general, most MSPs offer more or less the same types of services, so it’s not usually a specific offering that’s going to make you stand out. You need to convince a potential customer you’re the one they should choose.

Speak to Customers in Their Language
While you may be an expert in IT, your prospects and customers probably aren’t.

Don’t fill your value proposition with technical jargon. Make sure it can be easily understood by anyone, regardless of their technical skills.

And again, keep the focus on what they get out of it, rather than just listing your offerings.

How Do I Figure Out My Differentiators?

Start by looking at how your competitors position themselves, then ask yourself:

  • What do they do that you don’t? More importantly, what do they not do that you do?
  • Are there differences in the way you do things?
  • How is your professional experience different?
  • Do you have more experience in a particular area, such as with a specific software or operating system or with a particular industry?
  • Do you have highly regarded certifications?
  • Do you offer a unique approach to your services?

In a nutshell, figure out what makes you different from your competition and highlight that.

Having Trouble Finding Your Differentiators? Ask Your Existing Customers.
The customers you already work with can be a great source of information. Ask your most valuable, long-term customers why they chose you in the first place—and what makes them stay with you.

HOW DO I FIGURE OUT MY DIFFERENTIATORS?
HOW DO I FIGURE OUT MY DIFFERENTIATORS?

Who Should I Sell To?

When deciding where to focus your marketing efforts, it can be tempting to keep things generic—a wide net catches more fish, right? Not necessarily. Not all prospects are created equal, and it’s usually more effective to tighten your focus.

That’s why it’s a good idea to create a profile of your ideal customer. This will help you develop a targeted value proposition designed to speak to that customer’s specific needs—and is more likely to get them interested.

How Do I Build a Customer Profile?
The best place to start is with your existing customers. Determine which ones are your best customers—the ones who are most pleasant to work with, pay on time, and are happy with your work.

Then look for what those best customers have in common. Are they in the same industry? Are they of similar size? Do they tend to have a particular user profile? Are there consistent pain points you can solve for them?

Use their shared characteristics to create a profile of your ideal customer. You can use this to identify good prospects, then use your targeted value proposition to get their attention.

Example Customer Profile
A customer profile doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be a simple list of what’s common among your ideal customers. For example:

My ideal customer:

  • Is in the medical field
  • Has 10–25 employees
  • Has little technical expertise and relies on specific software
  • Has experienced frustration related to IT infrastructure failures

What Makes a Good Prospect?
Separate from your ideal customer profile, there are a few key characteristics that make a prospect a good match for any MSP. Put potential customers at the top of your list if they:

  1. Rely heavily on their IT infrastructure. If a company’s operations are highly dependent on their IT ecosystem, it’s easier to convince them of the benefits of having someone around who can keep things running smoothly.
  2. Don’t have an internal IT department. Smaller companies are less likely to have inhouse IT staff, which means they’re likelier to need an outside provider.

When you find a prospect with both these characteristics, you’ve hit the jackpot.

WHO SHOULD I SELL TO?
WHO SHOULD I SELL TO?

Should I Specialize in a Particular Industry?
How you answer this question depends on multiple factors, including the overall size of your local market. Many MSPs do find it benefits them to focus on a particular industry (“vertical market”). If you choose to specialize, it can allow you to develop expertise in that field and talk intelligently with your customers about not just their IT, but their businesses as a whole. This builds confidence in your abilities, and may make clients more likely to recommend you. Think about which is more appealing to a healthcare provider: an IT service provider who services all types of clients or one who specializes in healthcare organizations. It also arms you with more knowledge to pursue other customers in that vertical, because you already understand a lot of their pain points.

Am I Already in a Vertical?
If you look at your existing customers, you might find that most of them fall under one or two specific vertical markets. If so, congratulations! You’re already specializing.

Take advantage by focusing your efforts on finding more customers in those verticals.

REACHING MORE CUSTOMERS

What tools can help maximize your reach?

Do I Really Need a Website?

If you’re not online, do you even exist?

The first thing a potential customer is likely to do is look you up online. If you don’t have a professional-looking, easy-to-navigate website, they are likely to go elsewhere. That’s especially true in the tech space. If your website is outdated or hard to use, visitors can assume your solutions are also outdated and hard to use—not the impression you want to make.

That means you can’t just throw some information on a web page and call it a day. Your website has to be well thought out, with a clear buying path. You need to know what you want visitors to do and make it as easy as possible for them to do it.

Building a website has gotten a lot easier over the past few years. There are plenty of platforms that let you pick a template and plug in your content. The key thing is to make sure that content:

  • Speaks to your audience, not at them. It should position you as an expert—without being condescending. Write for online visitors the same way you’d talk to them if you were face to face.
  • Walks customers through your value proposition. It should present your offerings in a way that makes it clear what problems they solve and why you’re the best choice.
  • Has clear calls to action. Whether those are to “learn more,” “buy now,” “start a trial,” “contact us,” or something else, visitors to your site should never wonder how to take the next step.

Did You Know?
75% of online users judge a company’s credibility based on its web design.

What About SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO), is the process of making your website as friendly to search engines as possible. Having a solid SEO strategy can help make it easier for potential customers to find you online.

SEO is a complex topic. Search engines use unique algorithms, often creating variation between the different engines.

But there are plenty of simple ways you can optimize your website, such as using keywords that are relevant to your customers in your content, adding helpful metadata (data that describes other data) into the website’s code, and ensuring your site is mobileresponsive.

Tips for Creating a Great Business Blog

  • Write quality, relevant posts. Write about topics your audience will really care about—not just fluff for the sake of posting something.
  • Plan, plan, plan! Keep a list of potential topics and schedule your posts in advance to help you stick to a consistent posting schedule.
  • Include visuals. Images (such as infographics) add interest and are more shareable.
  • Include a call to action. Whether you want them to read another post, sign up for your newsletter, or buy a product, make sure your reader knows what you want them to do next — and how to do it.
WHAT ABOUT SEO?
WHAT ABOUT SEO?

Should My Website Have a Blog?

Ideally, you should have a blog. While blogging does take time and creativity, it’s a simple, effective way to generate more leads over the long term. A good blog can potentially help:

  • Improve your SEO ranking, which drives more traffic to your website
  • Establish you as an authority in your field
  • Convert more traffic into leads

What About Mobile Devices?

If you’ve ever pulled up a website on your phone and been faced with tiny text and illegible menus, then you know why mobile responsiveness is so important to good web design.

As more people use their phones and mobile devices to access websites, it has to be easy for them to get information. If they can’t, they’ll give up and move on to your competition. It’s crucial for the mobile experience of your website to mirror the desktop experience.

Most website-building platforms do a lot of the work for you these days, automatically creating a mobile-responsive parallel to the desktop version of your site designed to look good and work properly on devices of almost all shapes and sizes.

Don’t Forget to Test!
Even if your website-building platform automatically includes a responsive mobile version, you should always check it on at least two different devices (such as a phone and a tablet). When doing so, make sure it looks good, the information is easily accessible, and the content is presented in a logical order.

WHAT ABOUT MOBILE DEVICES?
WHAT ABOUT MOBILE DEVICES?

HOW DO I TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA?

Telling prospects and customers about your products or services is important, but many will also want to know about your perspective, business values, and company culture. Social media is a great way to communicate those things. But it can be daunting to try to figure out what to post (and where) in a way that helps you market your business and seem authentic.

While there are quite a few social media channels—and more popping up all the time— don’t worry. You don’t have to be on all of them. Pick one or two that make the most sense for your company and what you’re trying to accomplish.

Wherever you post, your content should always be relevant, current, and engaging. Encourage users to respond to your content by asking questions and sparking discussions. Continue the interaction by responding to comments and participating in conversations started by others.

Which Platform Should I Choose?
Facebook has a broad audience that is typically partial to personal content. As a result, business engagement could be lower.

Twitter is about conversations, so be prepared for plenty of twoway engagement with the general public.

Instagram is a highly visual channel that’s great for sharing company culture. You’ll need great photos that don’t require a lot of explanation.

LinkedIn is a great place for B2B interactions. You can share news about what you’re doing and make connections with other businesses.

How Often Should I Post?

This depends a bit on the platform. Twitter demands more frequent posting; on other platforms, once every day or so is usually enough. You can (and should) set up a posting schedule, and it can help to use a service like Hootsuite® or Buffer® to automatically post according to the schedule you set. You can then supplement your scheduled posts with some real-time posts to create a more authentic sense of spontaneity.

What Kind of Voice Should I Use For My Social Media Posts?

When settling on a voice, authenticity is key. People who engage with you on social media want to feel like they’re interacting with a person, not a marketing machine. Your social media voice should also match up with your real-life voice, so interacting on social media and interacting directly with your sales staff doesn’t feel like a completely different experience.

To figure out your social media voice, ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • How do you speak to colleagues and to customers regularly?
  • What’s your company culture like?
  • What are your corporate values?

The answers to those questions should come through in what you talk about and how you talk about it, whether in person or on social media.

Don’t Just Create—Curate!
Don’t be afraid to make use of content from other organizations or businesses. When you see posts you think would be valuable to your own followers, feel free to share them—just be sure to attribute where it came from.

Curating others’ content is a great way to build up your social presence and your following.

HOW ELSE CAN I GENERATE LEADS?

There are many ways you can generate leads for your business beyond what we’ve already covered. Here are some further questions MSPs often have when it comes to getting prospects in the pipeline.

Does Cold Calling Really Work?

Yes, if you understand what cold calling success really looks like. Cold calls can help generate a spark of interest in your audience that, if nurtured properly, could ultimately convert to a sale.

To get the most out of cold calling:

  • Hire dynamic and engaging people who can hit your talking points without sounding like they’re mechanically reading from a script.
  • Make sure your salespeople are armed with the right information to make the pitch. They should know exactly how your product can help customers in different scenarios so they can make the pitch more effective.
  • Try to aim for getting a sales appointment rather than sending them more information. You want to have an active conversation with potential clients.
DOES COLD CALLING REALLY WORK?
DOES COLD CALLING REALLY WORK?

How Do I Run an Email Campaign?

Email marketing is an effective channel—provided you do it well. That means sending relevant content to people who are interested in receiving it.

To get the most out of email marketing campaigns:

  • Start with a solid contact list. The best list is almost always going to be one you’ve built organically.
  • Use an email marketing service. These are designed to help you manage your contacts, create reusable templates, and automate and schedule your emails. Some popular tools include Constant Contact®, Emma®, and MailChimp.
  • Take care with your content. Make sure every email clearly presents your value proposition and includes an easily identifiable call to action. Be sure to write an enticing subject line—otherwise people might not even open your message.
  • Track your results. Your marketing service should include reporting features that tell you how many people opened your email and whether they clicked any links.

Email Lists: Organic Vs. Paid
An organic list is one you’ve built yourself through signups on your website or in person, from social media, or from existing business contacts.

A paid list is one someone else has built and you’ve bought to quickly build up your own list.

Paid lists can be tempting as a shortcut, but a small organic list of genuinely interested people is often more effective than a huge list of people who’ve never even heard of you.

HOW DO I RUN AN EMAIL CAMPAIGN?
HOW DO I RUN AN EMAIL CAMPAIGN?

Are Pay-Per-Click Online Ads Worth It?

If you’ve been around a while and have a robust online presence, you might already attract a lot of visitors to your site. But if you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, paid search ads (such as Google Ads®) can give you an immediate visibility boost by bumping you to the top of the search results for your selected keywords.

To get the most out of paid search:

  • Define your target audience. You can target based on a variety of metrics, but one of the most useful is location. By setting a radius from your office, you can make sure your ad is seen only by potential customers within your service area.
  • Select relevant keywords. Before setting up your ad, make sure you’ve done some research into the keywords people use to search for companies like yours.
  • Write helpful ad copy. Make sure your copy is related to the keywords and tells people exactly what they can expect to find if they click on your ad.
  • Direct users to where you want them to go. If you’re looking to promote a specific product or service, make sure the people who click on your ad arrive directly on the page where they can buy it, rather than your homepage.

How Do I Pick the Most Effective Keywords for My Online Ad?

  • Start with keyword research. You should start by doing the same type of research you did for SEO—to find the most relevant keywords to your customers.
  • Take advantage of negative keywords. Some keywords are commonly searched together but they might not be relevant to your business. You can filter them out to get better results. For example, you might want to use “cheap” as a negative keyword. This would help the ad network know to avoid showing your ad to customers looking for “Cheap IT Services.”
  • Get specific. Don’t be afraid to use long, detailed key phrases to keep your results tightly focused on the best prospects.

My Customers Love Me. Can I Take Advantage of That For Marketing?

If your customers speak highly of you, try to leverage that in your marketing. Word of mouth and referrals from friends and family have a huge impact on a person’s purchasing decisions. If a customer has referred somebody to you, you already know that person has a need to be solved. And because that person knows their friend trusts you, that makes it easier for them to trust you, too. That makes customer-referred leads extremely valuable and well worth cultivating.

You may already be getting some leads like that from customers who really love your services. A good referral program can make sure those leads keep coming.

A referral program can take various forms, but the most common is to offer a reward for customers who convince others to buy, to contact you for a discovery call, or do some other action. The reward doesn’t have to be monetary or even substantial—just something to show you appreciate the help.

What Incentives Should I Offer for Referrals?
Incentives could include:

  • Discounts
  • Free low-value services
  • Promotional items like mugs or t-shirts

If you’re not sure what your customers would like, just ask them.

SELLING YOUR SERVICES

How do you convince your prospects you’re what they need?

What Sales Process Should I Follow?

There are several stages of the sales process that you need to cycle through to keep your business healthy:

  • Lead generation. Leads are critical to your growth. You can’t just wait for them to come to you—you have to constantly seek out new ones. This stage involves some elements we’ve spoken about already—outbound efforts like cold calls and inbound methods like marketing.
  • Business analysis. At this point, you should spend time better understanding the needs, frustrations, pain points, and business goals of your prospects. You should speak with these customers and get to know their businesses inside and out. Ask open-ended questions to make sure they qualify as good leads (and to better tailor your pitch).
  • End-user workflow analysis. At this point, you may want to dig deeper into their businesses and understand the actual day-to-day workflow of their employees. You may want to focus on how your services can help them improve productivity and potentially keep more of their revenue. Make sure to tie this back to any business goals you discovered in step two.
  • Business growth and support plan. At this point, propose how your solutions will work and what they will do for your customer. Again, point this back to their business goals. You may want to focus on productivity gains and, if possible, calculate a potential return on investment.
  • Close the deal. You can’t get a contract if you don’t ask. At this point, you want to use findings from your ROI analysis and workflow analysis to build the case, then you want to ask the customer to sign a contract. If you’ve done your homework up front, you should be much more likely to succeed at this step.
  • Implementation. Remember: the sales process doesn’t end when your customers sign on the dotted line. How you treat them when they first become customers can impact your relationship with them down the line (and set the stage for further upsells). You should likely start with an onboarding meeting to make sure you have set the right expectations. Make sure to pay special attention to the rollout process—a smooth transition can help demonstrate your professionalism.
  • Ongoing account management. As your customer relationship evolves, you need to continue reminding customers of your value. Make sure to continue demonstrating the work that you do, review their system health, and leverage reporting to continue showing the value that your customers receive. Don’t grow complacent—continue demonstrating the value of your services so customers stay loyal.
  • Growth. Over time, you should continue looking for ways to add even more value to your customers. We’ll cover this more in depth later, but look for places where you can upsell new, valuable services to your clients.

Keys to Effective Sales
Sales is all about:

  • Identifying the best leads
  • Figuring out what those leads need
  • Closing the deal
  • Delivering what you promised
  • Keeping in touch

How Do I Handle Objections?

In most cases, an objection is just a situation where a prospect’s understanding of your offer doesn’t match up with their perceived need. That means overcoming objections is often just a matter of education.

We recommend four steps for handling most objections—just be aware that they don’t always happen in order and prospects can come up with objections related to ones you’re already addressing. Be patient and take your time to fully address every objection that comes up.

  • Acknowledge. No matter how trivial or irrelevant you think an objection is, always start by acknowledging the prospect’s concern and treating it as legitimate. Failing to do so could cost you the sale right then and there.
  • Understand and clarify. In many cases, the first objection a prospect raises isn’t really their number-one concern. Ask lots of open-ended questions to get them talking and try to get to the bottom of their real objection.
  • Offer resolution and value. Once you’re sure you understand the objection, explain how you’d resolve it. Use examples and specific ROI numbers if you can. Make sure your prospect is truly comfortable with your solution.
  • Ask for acceptance. Be direct. Ask your prospect if you’ve handled their objection to their satisfaction. If you have, ask if they’re comfortable moving on to the next step. If you haven’t, ask more questions and provide more solutions. Don’t move on until you’re satisfied that the prospect is satisfied with your answers.

Price Is Rarely a Final Objection
Even if someone starts by citing price as their objection, when you start asking questions, you’ll almost always find that it’s not really about price. If you focus on the value your services offer, you should be more able to allay their concerns.

Isn’t Upselling Pushing People to Buy Stuff They Don’t Want?

Getting your customers to buy services they don’t want or need is a great way to lose them, not keep them. But if done right, upselling can help provide immense value to your customers and increase the amount your customers spend with you—and that is good for business.

Many customers will likely come on board with smaller contracts at first—maybe just one or two services. But you shouldn’t just leave it at that. Stay in regular contact with them, make sure they’re happy, tell them about new services you’ve added to your portfolio, and remind them of services they didn’t buy but could still be a match for them.

The more you talk to them, the more you build your relationships with them, and the more comfortable they will likely be with buying additional services from you.

Why Upselling Can Sometimes Be Easier than New Sales
While gaining new customers is essential to business success, it’s just as important, and often much easier, to broaden your relationships with your existing customers. Sales conversations are often easier with customers who have an existing relationship with you. That’s why offering upsells are so important—it can help you gain more sales without having to hunt as much for new business.

ISN’T UPSELLING PUSHING PEOPLE TO BUY STUFF THEY DON’T WANT?
ISN’T UPSELLING PUSHING PEOPLE TO BUY STUFF THEY DON’T WANT?

How Do I Build a Great Sales Team?

In some ways, everyone on your staff—including you—is part of the sales team. Every time someone has the opportunity to talk up the company, they’re helping to sell your services. But having a dedicated sales team can help your company grow faster. There are three types of employees you need on your sales team:

  • Sales development representative (SDR). Your first sales hire should likely be an SDR. In many companies, the SDR has no other tasks than calling prospects. The thinking here is that they shouldn’t be trying to close deals—after all, most people won’t close a deal on a first call. This team is usually responsible only for arranging meetings and passing the most promising leads along to your closers.
  • Account executives (or hunters). Your account executives are the ones you send out to meet with prospects. Their job is to close the deal. If your sales team is small, they may also do some account management once customers are on board, but if you can have them focus just on making the sales, you’ll likely get better results.
  • Account managers (or farmers). Once a contract is signed, your account managers will take over managing the relationship with the customer. They’ll be the main points of contact for existing customers—and the ones working toward upselling and ensuring retention.

How Much Training Does My Sales Team Need?
Your team will need a lot of training. As your business evolves, your sales team should too.

In addition to the initial training you’ll provide to all new hires, it’s a good idea to hold regular training sessions for all sales staff. Regular training helps reinforce the brand message you want them to share with prospects. It also makes sure everyone knows about any changes to your products or services, or if you have new or special offers.

And make sure your training is interactive. Encouraging team members to share successful strategies with each other helps improve the whole team.

What Kind of Compensation Should My Sales Team Get?

The compensation you offer should be based on driving the kinds of behaviors you want to see from your team. That means different sales roles should be compensated differently.

  • Account executives are usually best motivated by dollars and cents, so you want to offer solid incentives. In addition to a base salary, you probably want to pay them upfront commissions based on the annual value of the contracts they secure.
  • Account managers are focused on long-term growth, so you’ll want to provide their commission on an ongoing basis rather than lump-sum payments. In addition to a base salary, you might want to pay them monthly commissions based on the value of the contracts they manage.
  • SDRs get commissions that are usually tied to deals closed by the account executives. This provides incentives for inside sales staff to book as many promising meetings for their account executives as possible.

Other Incentives
You can also offer additional incentives to your sales team tied to specific products, services, or contract types you want to focus on in any given period.

START SELLING FOR YOUR BUSINESS TODAY

Sales and marketing can be intimidating and overwhelming. But if you tackle them in manageable chunks, you’ll find that they’re not so scary after all. Use the tips and tricks in this eBook to get started, and you’ll be selling like a pro in no time.

Source: SolarWinds