By Derek Marin, Simple Selling
In my recent article about MSP lead generation failures, I barely got started on the problems.
So buckle up folks, because I'm going to get more into it here and will ruffle some MSP feathers in the process.
MSPs are partially to blame themselves for lead gen failures.
MSPs that command “more blogs,” “more advertising budget” and “more, more, more” of things that aren’t working are doing more harm. Because more crap is still just, you know what.
“Oh, that salesperson was terrible!”
“The vendor didn’t come through!”
Sound familiar? And so this MSP goes vendor-hopping, re-hiring salespeople, and ends up back to square one.
But let’s be real. Vendors, marketers, and salespeople are also at fault, not just the MSP.
Heck, I’ll be the first to admit that we have made mistakes and will continue to as we test things in lead gen.
But, and this is a big "BUT", some vendors and hires are not admitting (or realizing...) their mistakes and that’s a major reason lead generation remains a headache.
So, what are the status quo marketing playbooks that keep MSPs stuck inside the commodity box and getting nowhere with new MRR?
Read on to see.
Misunderstanding The MSP Buyer’s Journey
Before jumping to the legacy marketing strategies, there is a presumed “MSP Buyer’s Journey” that MSPs, vendors, and internal marketers believe.
This is mistake number one – the backbone of why status quo playbooks suck – the belief that MSP buyers are still buying as they did 10 or 15 years ago.
Today’s MSP buyer is not the same.
I’ll repeat that.
The path that buyers take toward an MSP partnership is not the same path they took back 10 or 15 years ago.
What has changed so much?
Tech Target has an MSP Evolution Timeline that shows important improvements in the MSP industry that every MSP understands better than I do.
Remote management is old now. Even the one-man band has a PSA subscription. Cloud services are more accessible, and affordable and make more sense to SMBs than ever before. The proliferation of vendors, both direct and in the channel, and the sheer volume of MSPs have enabled SMBs to have their basic IT needs to be met.
Therefore, the MSP buyer’s journey in the olden days was:
- Awareness Stage - becoming aware of “slow computers” or “frequent downtime.”
- Consideration Stage - considering “hiring in-house IT” or “outsourcing.”
- Decision Stage - deciding between a few local MSPs.
Meanwhile, today it's the MSP Switcher's Journey (not the MSP Buyer's Journey).
- Awareness Stage - becoming aware that strategic initiatives are stuck or failing frequently.
- Consideration Stage - considering if it’s “bad tech” “bad process” or “bad people.”
- Decision Stage - deciding it’s missing technology advice and deciding which MSP to switch to.
Today’s buyer is an MSP Switcher, not a first-time MSP buyer. They have an MSP partner now. Their MSP has nice people, just like you. They have integrity, good values, and principles (except for the MSPs on Reddit, gotta watch out for the angry ones!). This MSP can speed up computers and resolve tickets. They do the “IT stuff” reasonably well.
So why do they want to switch?!
Sure, they may need to upgrade infrastructure or maybe complete another migration project, but that’s not the big problem.
It’s friction with strategic initiatives in other departments like Sales, Customer Service, Human Resources, Marketing, and Finance that are holding them back.
The MSP Switcher has technology assets, maybe even too much of it, and they need a next-level MSP to help them sort out the gap between their current state and where they want to be.
What Is Status Quo MSP Marketing?
Below are some of the most common MSP marketing playbooks that worked better for the MSP Buyer’s journey and not so well for today's MSP Switcher.
The “Tech Tips Educator” Playbook
Blogs, articles, infographics, and direct mail with lots of technology advice that is geared toward SMB buyers. This playbook is centered on educating buyers on the pros and cons of IT-managed services, the benefits of cloud services, the advantages of cybersecurity, and more tech tips.
The “Outbound Appointment-Setting” Playbook
Outbound prospecting via telemarketing, social media, and SMS texting, where the goal is to book appointments with qualified IT buyers and then close them in 45 days or less. The playbook is centered on finding unhappy customers of other MSPs and getting in exactly at the right time.
The “Ppc Bidder” Playbook
Pay-per-click campaigns on Google, Bing, and social media platforms where the goal is to convert IT buyers on landing pages for eBooks or an IT Assessment. Generally involves spending massive amounts to get ads to appear frequently and in front of the right audience. And similar to outbound, the expectation is a quick turnaround of 45 days to close-won.
Why Status Quo Playbooks Usually Stink
Don’t misinterpret, please. It’s not that the status quo always fails.
They can land new customers sometimes.
But they are more likely to cause stress and hair loss because they don’t address the MSP Switcher's concerns.
For example, the “Tech Tips Educator” offers mainly repetitive and generic tech information and it feels disconnected from the prospect’s business pains. The MSP’s website is sprawling with “IT made easy” and “we’re proactive!” and the prospect is tired of that.
As for the outbound and PPC strategies, don’t get me started on this approach.
For one, it’s a late and lucky approach. I hate being late and despise unpredictability. It’s “late” because it’s hard to build enough trust and differentiation in short sales cycles and “lucky” because catching a prospect right when they are switching is exactly that, lucky.
Overall, I despise the spirit of PPC and outbound because they reek of commission breath. It’s the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am that makes MSPs look desperate – as if you need them more than they need you.
If you're interested in developing your MSP's unique differentiation path, then check our MSP Lead Generation Guide for 2023. It has lots of tips, examples, and best practices you can start putting together immediately.
About The Author
Derek Marin is the founder of Simple Selling, a sales and marketing agency for MSPs.