Before I delve into what I see as the five “honeypots” to making money right now, let me start out with an irritating, demotivating truth: In the short term, you will be required to work harder, invest more, create more, and do more with less than you’ve ever had to in the past, all while still getting lower returns than you’re accustomed to. It will take everything you’ve got to get even mediocre results, and it will be harder than ever before.
You can get angry about this and resent it. Some will throw their hands up in the air and yell, “I give up!” I get it. I already give 110%, so the idea of getting less for more effort is as attractive to me as a turd in a punch bowl. But where’s the profit in that?
If it’s any comfort, then at least take solace in the fact that you are in a business that is deemed essential and are not hit nearly as hard as others. If you need one bottle of TUMS on your desk to deal with indigestion from the problems you’re dealing with, then keep in mind that those in the event, hospitality, retail, and entertainment businesses need 10 bottles. It’s a small comfort, but it won’t solve your problems and losses, so here are five “honeypots” to focus on right now to ensure you continue to retain profits, equity, and market share. Who knows … you might even grow.
Honeypot 1: Keep Your Best Clients Happy
Now more than ever, it’s critical to make sure you preserve the relationship and patronage of your best clients. They need more care, more attention, and more appreciation right now. If you lose one of them, then you’ll have to find several more to make up for the loss. Because it will be harder to get clients right now than in the past, you cannot afford to lose one due to something you could have prevented. During any economic downturn, you won’t retain all of your clients. Some will close shop, while others will leave for a cheaper competitor. There’s not a lot you can do about this, but you should be overcommunicating with your top clients right now and making sure they are well taken care of. Further, don’t assume you “shouldn’t be selling” right now. That may be exactly what a client needs — more robust cybersecurity protections, a new VoIP phone system, or an upgrade that would allow them to work remotely more productively. The bigger mistake would be sending a single “You need anything?” email and fading into the background waiting to be called on. Be proactive.
Honeypot 2: Revisit Unconverted Leads
Another big area of opportunity is in leads you’ve generated but didn’t convert. Most MSPs completely waste those leads, abandoning them after the first “no” or if the prospects stop responding. Big mistake. There are actually six reasons why a prospect will take time to call or inquire for more information about hiring you and will even go so far as to schedule an appointment and get a proposal before going cold. Four of the six can be fixed with a good online and offline drip marketing system, and all can be positively impacted by it. The first is that they weren’t that interested to begin with. They’re only beginning to look. That doesn’t mean they won’t buy, but they need more time to “bake.” The second is that something interrupted and took precedence over their buying intention. They suddenly had a key employee quit or a major project go sideways. Maybe they just landed an enormous opportunity or their wife handed them divorce papers. Often, you’ll never know. Being the self-centered creatures we are, we think it’s “all about us.” It’s not. That’s why you need a quality follow-up and drip marketing system in place. At some point, they’ll come back.
The third reason is that they decided they didn’t like or trust you. People are odd creatures, myself included. A few months ago, I was interviewing a candidate for a sales position who had a stellar track record and experience in our industry. All lights were green, but then he did something that instantly put me off making the decision to hire him. In the middle of my interview with him, he let out a big yawn. I quickly ended the interview and haven’t called him back. When I write this, it sounds silly, especially considering his long list of accomplishments and clear history of success. But I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Prospects are similar. There may have been something you said or did that just annoyed them or struck them as “wrong.” Maybe you had a flag or logo of their rival sports team on your car. Maybe you reminded them of their ex. Maybe they didn’t like your answer to a question. Who knows. Prospects are fickle. But you’re fickle, too, if you’re honest about it. This can be overcome. I’ve had really good clients tell me they didn’t like something I said or did, and initially it turned them off from buying. But over time, after seeing my name and my company’s come up over and over again in multiple ways, they chose to move ahead and have been great clients ever since (read more about this in Honeypot 5).
The fourth and fifth reasons are thinking your price is too high and not liking your solution to their problem. Finally, the sixth reason is they may have decided to stay with the devil they know. All of this can be impacted with a good follow-up and drip marketing system to your unconverted leads.
Honeypot 3: Double Your Sales Efforts And Marketing Investments
Unequivocally, now is not the time to cut back on marketing and lead generation activities. For some time, there will be a heightened competition for business and less of it flowing around. If anything, you need a bigger shovel to dig with, and given that most of your competition will be hunkering down and cutting sales and marketing budgets, now is the time to get the marketing cranking.
The best defense against the coming losses from clients closing, shrinking down, and leaving you for a cheaper competitor is getting new clients lined up ahead of time to replace the ones you’ll lose to the failing economy. Yes, it will be more difficult. Yes, it will be more expensive to generate leads and get clients (even though a lot of the advertising costs are down). But if you wait (yet again) because “now’s not the right time” (an evergreen excuse for struggling MSPs),then you might find yourself out of business in a hurry.
Don’t think that can happen? Not a week goes by when I don’t hear a tale of woe from someone who’s been “in the business” for 10, 20, 30 years or more who suddenly loses one or two big clients to a merger, acquisition, or a decision to take IT in-house. Yes, you can lose it all in no time flat. Their business, their finances, and their income are suddenly all gone, not to mention their confidence and pride. Embarrassment also comes with such a tragic, sudden loss of income when one’s caught flat-footed. I’ve seen it play out over and over again: grown men having to swallow their pride and get a job during a time in their lives when they ought to be close to retiring rich or at least financially stable. They’re already exhausted but forced to rebuild like a startup. Never think, “That can’t happen to me.”
Honeypot 4: Go Where The Money Is
The five top areas of opportunity right now are cybersecurity, compliance as a service, remote workforce solutions, co-managed IT or outsourcing of IT in larger organizations looking to cut overhead, and “regular” IT clients taken from other MSPs struggling right now. As I mentioned on Page 4, according to Fred Voccola, CEO of Kaseya, approximately 78% of SMBs expect to invest in compliance in 2020 (a 200% increase from 2017), but less than 10% offer it.
It’s always easier to sell something with a loaded gun in your hand, and that is exactly what compliance and cybersecurity are. Governments are starting to pile on more regulations for data privacy and protection while making the fines and penalties bigger. Cyberattacks continue to escalate and worsen. If you’re not making a dedicated effort to formulate and sell these solutions tailored to specific target markets, then you’re a fool. That is where the money is and has been going for a while.
Honeypot 5: Be More Diligent About Capturing And Following Up On Leads
During the best of times, MSPs are horrific about capturing new inbound leads and following up adequately. Now, when leads and opportunities are going to be in short supply, you cannot allow such sloppiness. To my point, roughly 62% of the calls we make to MSPs and IT services firms go straight to voicemail, and 14% have “broken” systems: bad numbers, full mailboxes, no voicemail system set up, no way to get to a human, etc. That’s atrocious, since we all know the No. 1 reason someone fires their current IT company and chooses another is lack of response. The new economy buyer is going to be a lot more judicious with their spending and will not tolerate this type of poor behavior. Further, most MSPs have no way of capturing and following up on referrals and other inbound leads — they have no CRM and certainly no marketing automation system they can plug a lead into for an automatic follow-up. At most, they send a single email, maybe two. That’s barely a follow-up system, and if that’s you, then you’re leaving a huge pile of money on the table.
A Final Thought
Depending on when you get and read this, Fourth of July in the U.S. will be happening soon or will have just happened. While I realize we have a number of readers from all over the world, most countries have a similar “freedom from oppression” holiday they celebrate. Therefore, I feel these remaining remarks, while patriotic to the U.S., are universal.
The premise of Fourth of July is supposed to be about celebrating independence, yet I see far too many people not celebrating the gift that it is, resenting the need to be self-reliant, or preferring a good excuse over a good opportunity. A bird locked in a cage may feel safe from the prowling housecat, but it is unable to fly and depends on the kindness of its master for food, water, and care. I suppose for some, that’s an ideal situation, but not for me and certainly not for the group of clients I serve.
As always, there are many things we cannot control. We cannot control or prevent another pandemic. We cannot control or change elected officials and the decisions they are making (other than voting). We cannot control the economy, our competition, or other people. That’s why now more than ever, it’s critical that you take control over whatever you can control: your mindset, your work ethic, your focus, and your decisions. This is not a time when you can indulge in sloppiness. Advertising, marketing, and sales must be effective and more efficient than ever before. No waste is affordable right now. Leads, prospects, customers, and clients must be wowed. Anyone on your team who is not pulling 110% must be replaced. Your time, your focus, and your energy must be devoted to conquering and overcoming all of this, not to arguing with people on Facebook or escaping the misery of it all by binge-watching Netflix. Dig deep here with us. There is no better source of valid, innovate, and practical advice on how to march yourself straight out of this mess than what we offer at Technology Marketing Toolkit and MSP Success. Now is the time to work on your abilities, your knowledge, your skills, and your own personal discipline. It is the only path to ensuring you and yours are taken care of.