293 of you joined us this week for our first ever “MSP Minds Live” webinar, aimed at supporting you in streamlining and growing your MSP services. Right now, this is more important than ever, especially when we’re all looking at recovering from the Coronavirus crisis and heading back to the office.
We were delighted to be joined by Daniel Jenson, the owner of TAC*TECH*COOL Cybersecurity Solutions. He has nearly 25 years of experience in the IT industry, as well as Matt Hunn, the founder, and CEO of MDH Technologies. This experienced MSP company works across multiple verticals from Healthcare to Aviation.
Never satisfied with sharing theoretical learning with our Aterans, we’re all about adding core value, and we learned so much from these guys and their practical tried and tested experience in the IT services world. If you missed the event, hey, where were you?! Here are the top pieces of advice we grabbed during the webinar. Make sure you join us next time!
Think of customers as partners – do you want to be treated as a vendor?
How do you describe the people that use your IT solutions? Customers? Clients? We loved hearing Daniel explain the reasoning behind the ‘partner’ relationship and the language he uses. It’s all about making a psychological shift. Rather than think about a one-way relationship where only you are giving value, and the client is taking, the word partners describe a two-way relationship where you both value one another. If you have customers or clients, that turns you into their vendor, which is painting yourself into a box. A vendor tends to be colder, more distant, and one of many. A relationship with a partner is something unique.
Stay away from long decision cycles – and expand your reach in any organization.
Flexibility and adaptability have been essential for so many MSPs throughout COVID-19. Knowing your customers means understanding how they do business, and with that, staying away from organizations that have lengthy decision-making structures that leave you waiting around while a committee considers your proposal or bureaucracy stands in your way. After all, we’re all ‘fix-it’ types, and the last thing we want is to sit and wait!
You can do your part in speeding up decision-making by using the ‘three points of influence’ model, where you make sure you have contacts across the business and aren’t limited by “I know a guy that works there,” even if that “guy” is the CEO! It’s far better to have a few people you can reach out to and provide value for, such as one in Finance, one in HR, and one in Customer Success. It’s time to get friendly!
Make smart use of this time – consider what’s coming in and what’s going out.
For many MSPs, COVID-19 has stopped business in its tracks. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be keeping busy. Now’s the time to reflect and work out how to best move forward. Think about what your thoughts were when the Coronavirus first hit the headlines, and you realized you were going to be impacted by the quarantine. What did you wish that you had done already, not procrastinated on, or pushed to the bottom of the list? Now’s the time to be prepared, both in case of a second wave and to shore up your business for the future.
If client business has dried up somewhat, consider whether you’re focusing on too narrow a segment of the market. Everything is cyclical, so even if you’re finding a specific industry lucrative, or becoming a vertical-expert, you might be caught out if the economy hits a downturn that makes its mark. Market yourself to new areas that you can see haven’t been negatively impacted, such as cloud services, which are seeing projected growth thanks to the surge in remote working.
The other side of the coin is not what money is coming in, but what expenses are going out. Take some time to audit your current costs, calling each of your line items and seeing if you can save money on monthly spendings such as your internet, data center, insurance, cell phones, or VoIP, as well as software licenses like antivirus, office 365, or accounting software. Do the same thing for each of your clients, and you’re using billable hours to add real value at a time when they need it the most.
“Atera’s disruptive pricing model has been an important tool, and we’ve used this time to make sure that we’ve rolled the agent out on all our endpoints for the same per-technician price. Having used many RMM platforms in the past, Atera’s RMM Platform has given us a lot more flexibility we can pay forward on our pricing model and our internal operations.” – Matt
Think ahead – doing nothing = getting nothing
If you start on a Monday morning and think, “what should I be doing this week?” you’re already behind. Instead, have the mindset that you should know on the previous Friday what lies ahead for the week. Right now, it’s Friday. When the wheels of the business world start turning in earnest again, what do you want to be doing?
Matt recommended to MSPs that you experiment with a few ideas that are interesting to see what has value and could pique the interest of your customers, before deciding how to expand. Think about the segments that are thriving right now, what they need, or what pain points have sprung up throughout this time. How can you meet those needs with new services such as security, remote working support, or managed services?
Here’s an innovative way Matt got his name in front of many prospects. Not that Matt advocates this type of strategy, but he did them never the less.
Here’s Matt describing his “Guerilla Marketing & Networking” methods:
“If you’re familiar with “Red Box,” it’s a vending machine where you can get a movie. We figured out how to put our business card in the DVD case. Then we figured that the machine wouldn’t charge you as long as you returned within a few minutes.
So we rented a bunch of DVDs in the area and put business cards in the case, and people who rented them saw our business cards.
This was great for residential business.
We’ve even gone into buildings we were working in and put business cards in the doors after hours. We’ve done email campaigns, social media campaigns, and lots of networking.
There was a time I was at a networking event for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you come up with an idea, as long as it’s not malicious or against the law, innovation is what gets people’s attention.”
To which Dan added:
“Never underestimate the power of doughnuts. I’ve gotten more business from giving people doughnuts and business card, because who would say no to a doughnut? Then you just leave your business card.”
Communicate with the customer – remember that you’re selling trust.
To make new residual business happen, you need to be in excellent communication with your customers, something that’s hard to achieve when face to face contact has been taken away. Reports are a great foot in the door, a way into discussing a new product or service. Show your client their report, with clear and actionable information that lays out in no uncertain terms exactly what they’re missing. You then have a natural entry point to offer them a solution and explain how you can provide that service.
There is a whole lot of fear right now, and uncertainty for all businesses, no matter the industry. By voicing those fears and creating hero solutions for your customer’s pain points, you can create an even closer relationship. This can be done at the same time as a practical audit of services and processes. Don’t go stomping in with heavy boots insisting on new security tools or remote services, instead have an honest and open conversation about what they need, what their current pain points are, and how you can create a budget and a roadmap for making these disappear, together.
Be sticky – offer as many services as you can
Building this relationship means creating as many opportunities for communication and connection as you can, and Daniel mentioned more than a few, including quarterly reviews, scheduled meetings, layers of support and services that set you up as the go-to expert that they don’t want to do without.
Don’t sell yourself short, or fall into the trap of dropping your prices because everyone is having a hard time. Throughout this period, the MSPs have been fire-fighting, setting up remote offices, troubleshooting security or operational issues, and hand-holding businesses through the unknown. Work out what your differentiating value is as an MSP, and use that to create a Rockstar elevator pitch that explains precisely why you’re worth the price tag.
Look for your people – and never underestimate the impact of pizza and donuts!
Remember, even during this challenging time, a smart business doesn’t mean attempting to make everyone happy. You’re not a plumber or an electrician who goes into someone’s home once and then never sees them again. You aim to build a long-term partnership, to be a part of the business, and to manage the environment on a deep level. You won’t be able to make that work with everyone. If you find yourself spending 80% of your time on 20% of your most demanding clients, it could be time to part ways and start looking elsewhere for your people.
We also can’t leave off without sharing Daniel’s expert advice, that pizza and donuts will get you a long way, whether that’s schmoozing a new client, impressing a current one, or just making a room full of people smile! It would work for us, anyway!
Don’t forget to check out the full webinar right here, and we’ll be sure to let you know about the next MSP Minds ahead of time.