By Michael Cummings, Taylor Business Group
How many new MRR clients did you add last year that would be one of your top 8 to 10 clients? How many of these targets do you have current, live sales opportunities with right now? For most MSPs, the answer is none.
However, a few elite MSPs regularly land large clients. I work with dozens of MSP owners who grow annual revenue by 25 to 40 percent each year. Landing large new clients on a regular basis is the key driver of this success.
For example, Ryan Ikeler is a top producing business development professional who is a graduate of the Sales Transformation Program. Ryan routinely sells more than $100K in new monthly MRR each year. In fact, each quarter he routinely adds one new client who ranks in the top 8 to 10 clients in his firm’s roster. Together, we have identified the game changing surgical prospecting techniques that result in large, new MRR sales.
Consider how your 2018 sales results would be impacted if you added five new clients whose monthly MRR was equal to the average of your top 10 clients.
So, what is the secret to landing large new MRR clients? The answer is it’s just as easy to add large clients as it is to add an average size client. But you need to pursue them very differently than you do in your normal business development process.
Mistakes That MSPs Make In Large Client Acquisition
So, what mistakes do MSPs typically make?
- Failing to focus on large target clients explicitly. You must segregate large clients from the other prospects that you pursue. There are different buying dynamics and unique techniques to gain entre for larger target clients. There is also a higher threshold for relevance and credibility. Pursuing large clients the same way that you do average sized companies will bear no fruit.
- Picking the wrong target clients. You want to target companies who are “clones” of your best existing clients — and in niches where you already have distinctive experience and insights. You also focus on those prospects where clients, allies, colleagues and referral sources can make an introduction for you.
- Promoting the features and benefits of your offering. People buy your services to avoid, prevent, or relieve critical/current business “trauma.” They don’t care about your offering. No prospective client ever woke up in the morning hoping that an MSP would call them today. Instead they care about their own problems and “pain points.” You are only relevant to them in this context.
- Failing to align prospecting with the target’s buying process. These “pain points” therefore mark the beginning of their buying process. Zeroing in on their “pain points” grabs their attention/interest and establishes your credibility. It shows that you understand their business and creates the reason for future engagement. Pursuing this more personalized approach builds chemistry over time if done properly.
- Pursuing these clients as a vendor rather than as a business expert. Research and a wealth of experience shows target clients value providers who have solved the same problems they are facing with other clients just like them. Demonstrating your understanding of their “business pain points” positions you as a business expert (rather than a salesperson hawking a product and begging for a meeting)
- Failing to play the long game. Many MSPs execute a short burst of prospecting calls and emails and then move on. Sometimes success just takes more professional persistence. Since the payoff is larger, we can stay at the prospecting process longer than our normal cycle. You reach out to the prospective client over time. You use an integrated and cohesive mix of prospecting and market actions in a niche-focused campaign, leveraging the full range of tools (mail, call, email, social media, referrals/introductions). All marketing messages should provide value-added content, relevant insights and stories/examples of results delivered to clients just like them.
The Surgical Prospecting Process: The Playbook For Landing Large New MRR Clients
My clients have discovered and executed the best practices that result in landing large new MRR clients for your MSP. In our experience, success in surgical prospecting for large new clients requires that you follow the process below:
- You focus on a short list of companies and decision makers in the same niche. You are looking to target 30 to 40 large clients a quarter and call on one to two senior executives in each company.
- Strategically selected to be your best prospects. Niches where you have more than three3 clients who are prominent in the local business community contain your best prospective clients. Prioritize those targets who have a connection/relationship with your clients, colleagues, allies or key referral sources.
- Requiring an intensive pursuit over 60 to 90 days initially. Our best results come when we combine a weekly cadence of personal prospecting outreach for 30 days. The we transition into an extended program of digital selling outreach for another 45 to 60-day period.
- Leveraging one wave of high impact direct mail. Senior executives and owners of larger companies require something out of the ordinary to grab their attention and interest. Three-dimensional direct mail has proven to be the most potent and reliable tool to achieve this result.
- Using messages (prospecting and marketing) that are tailored/customized for the niche and aimed precisely at critical business trauma. The promotional focus of all outreach is on high priority business challenges with a personal negative impact for the decision maker (if not addressed). You market your understanding of their niche and experience with solving these problems for similar executives at your clients. Use “stories” as the predominant method to prove your value.
- Positioning yourself as a business advisor and not a salesperson. Comport yourself as a business expert not a feature and benefit selling promoter. You offer niche-focused, solution know-how as a professional consultant/industry expert.
- Rotating in successive waves of new targets as prospects based on response. The prospecting rule is no “trauma,” no sale. You will be hitting a lot of people at a time when there is simply not enough trauma to make it worth your time or their time to meet. This may change in the future, but right now there are better uses of your time and energy.
- Resulting in a high percentage of discovery meetings and new business. This approach yields a much higher percentage of discovery meetings than most other approaches.
Your Next Big Client Is Waiting Out There For You
But, right now these prospective clients:
- Don’t know you.
- Have no reason to listen to you.
- Are not compelled to engage with you.
- Are distracted by other priorities.
- See little value in meeting with you.
This can all change. It has changed for my clients in the Sales Transformation Program. It can start to change for you as well.
About The Author
Michael Cummings is the leader of Taylor Business Group’s (TBGs) Sales Transformation Program whose MSPs clients grow their revenue annually by 20 to 40 percent. He is also the creator of the Six Pillar Prospecting Playbook for MSPs where you can download a free eBook and audio training that expands on the lessons learned described in this article.