Managed service providers are facing more competition as the market grows and adapts to meet new needs and challenges. New customer acquisition is more expensive and more complicated than ever. Referrals, while the best leads ever, are not a sustainable business model. So how do MSPs build long-term sustainable sales and marketing strategies?
Let’s face it, growing your business is not an easy task. Business growth strategies are complicated and take expertise far beyond what was once needed. Today a fully functioning lead generating, growth producing strategy requires the integration of multiple departments sharing information in real time. It is imperative today, to begin your sales and marketing strategy with the understanding that technology must be integral to the plan. In order to implement your sales and marketing strategy, you must review your digital communication and delivery systems. Once your digital infrastructure is in place and you have established clear inter-company communication channels, you are ready to explore your long-term sales and marketing strategy.
Consider these 5 key concepts for building a long-term sustainable sales and marketing strategy.
Use these to guide you on your journey and incorporate your ideas and insights as you go.
- It’s 2018, a social media strategy and everything that goes with it is a must!
Invest in your digital messaging. It’s very difficult to hire a single employee that has the knowledge and bandwidth to understand all the facets of social media marketing. Consider investing in a social media marketing firm that can help you define and deliver your message effectively and through the right platforms – not all social media channels are alike. Be aware of your social media analytics. Analytics are gold when trying to understand your marketing effectiveness and reach. If your budget is tight consider trading your services for theirs. You never know until you ask! Nothing should be off the table.
- Invest in your BRAND!
What do you want people to think about when they think about your brand? Associate your brand with worthwhile causes and make yourself seen in the community. Partner with others. Write blogs and share with your community. Join civic organizations. Identify your top ten prospects and find ways to get in front of them. Offer free seminars and webinars on specific topics of interest. Join organizations that are associated with your prospects. Have your elevator pitch down cold. Anyone in your company should be able to tell any prospect in a couple of sentences what you do. Create a shared vision inside your company, the “why” behind your brand. Everyone should understand the importance of your brand and what your brand stands for. Your brand integrity is critical in your search for new customers.
- Invest in a sales manager with experience.
It’s time to set goals and targets. Who are your target customers, are they in a vertical niche, who is the decision maker, do they have the budget for your services, how many touches will it take to get interest, does your sales team need technical sales support, do you have a CRM system so you can begin to build a database of prospects, and finally are all of your contracts, collateral, and sales materials concise and on message. Contact your partner vendors and set up trainings for your sales people. Encourage your salespeople to get certified in various products and/or services. Enroll them in sales training classes. Make sure your salespeople are always networking. New prospects should be added daily and follow up schedules should be enforced.
- Build strong partner relationships.
Your partners should help drive your sales and marketing efforts. Always leverage your relationships with vendor partners. See what resources your vendor partners have to help you. Do they offer white label collateral or engineering services to help you close an opportunity? Position your brand with larger more well-known brands. Associations offer legitimacy. Look for publication opportunities. Magazines, ezines, online columns etc. all need new content almost daily. Find a niche and make yourself an expert. Associate yourself with a local TV station or newspaper as an expert so if they have a related story they can use you as a source. Join your local chambers. Network with other members. Get involved!
- Develop an exceptional customer service team.
Remember everyone that works for your company represents your brand. Professional, engaging, courteous customer service builds long lasting relationships, increases referrals, and empowers your brand. Develop customer service policies and procedures. Make sure that your customer is at the center of your process. They are the reason you are in business and the only way you will stay in business. Remember, a difficult customer is your best opportunity to practice your customer service skills.
Finally, if building a marketing and sales strategy and the infrastructure required to power it is beyond your knowledge set, consider hiring a consultant to help you. Many times, hiring a consultant in the beginning offers a better ROI than making critical mistakes that lead to lost capital and opportunity. Building a technically sound and strategic sales and marketing plan is a must for those companies that seek to push their company to the next level.
Rick Miller is COO and Partner of The Tek, an MSSP specializing in risk assessment, risk mitigation, protection, and education to SMBs. Rick is a long-term veteran in the IT industry. His success has been founded in propelling start-ups and turnarounds to success and profitability. His experience has helped to grow multiple companies from start-up to profitability.