How Joanna Sobran Became One Of The Fastest Growing MSPs In The Nation, Experiencing 12X Growth In Just Three Years

In 2005, Joanna Sobran, who came from Poland as a child with her parents, founded MXOtech, a 100% woman-owned business. A successful recruiter for an IT company, Joanna began evaluating her life and career on maternity leave after having her first baby. It was the realization that she dreaded going back to work that prompted her to quit her comfortable $150,000 a year job to open the doors to her Chicago-based IT company.  

The first few years she relied on referrals to grow her company. “We floated by on past relationships I had built and referrals from clients and colleagues,” Joanna said. “Eventually though, that pipeline started to get smaller… It wasn’t yielding a lot of results for us.”

Getting proactive, she hired a marketing company to design an expensive website. “I sat at my desk and waited for the calls to come in,” Joanna said. “To my disappointment, that didn’t happen.”

She also implemented Kaseya after hearing about Managed IT Services. “I had no idea how to sell this new MSP business model, so I called my Kaseya sales rep,” Joanna recalled. “After expressing my frustrations with my current marketing company, he told me about a woman named Robin Robins.”

In 2012, deciding she had nothing to lose, she called Robin’s office, purchased the Technology Marketing Toolkit and joined the Producer’s Club, which includes a call with Robin.

Excited to impress Robin with her “beautiful, artistic website,” the conversation made Joanna realize just how much she had to learn. “Robin hit me with a dose of reality that I was ashamed to admit I had never even considered,” Joanna confessed. “My big marketing tactic, my website that I spent $20,000 to create, hadn’t helped me convert any leads. Robin’s feedback on my website was helpful. The value she brought me on that call and continues to teach me time and time again is to question EVERYTHING, look at numbers and results.” 

Over the next three years, Joanna concentrated on learning how to market her business and implemented the marketing campaigns she found inside the Technology Marketing Toolkit. She established her marketing oil wells and built relationships. “All this marketing brought in a lot more leads for our business, and also made them, in some ways, similar to the referral type leads because people recognized our staff, our name and who we were,” Joanna said. As a result, her Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) increased from $21,451 per month to $247,894 per month and her gross revenues went up $924,878.

Today she’s grown her company revenues to more than $5 million. The 2016 Better Your Best Contest Winner and former spokesperson for Technology Marketing Toolkit, Joanna was most recently named The ChannelPro Network’s inaugural winner of its 2019 Peer of the Year.   MXOtech has also been recognized as one of the nation’s fastest-growing outsourced IT companies by Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000” list. In addition, MXOtech’s healthcare applications have been nominated for innovation awards and adopted by Fortune 1000 companies.

Here’s how Joanna became one of the fastest-growing MSPs:

Build a Better Community

One of the first steps Joanna took was to weed out bad clients and focus all her attention, money and time on the good clients. “I started cleaning house,” Joanna said. “We figured out our ideal client and only focused our marketing and sales to attract clients with the right size, values, industries, business needs, and IT budgets.”

Clients who weren’t making her money or that she didn’t enjoy working with such as people who didn’t take her advice or who were seen as stunting her growth were let go. Joanna figured out her core values and what gave her the best opportunities. This gave her the time to nurture her best clients. “We implemented processes, hired the right people, developed a leadership team, and ‘The MXO Way’,” she said.

Keep In Front Of Prospects And Clients

“Since joining Technology Marketing Toolkit, we’ve established marketing “oil wells” that we execute on a consistent basis,” Joanna said. “It’s not like one thing really works for us, but it’s a combination of all them… and none of these were perfected right away. We’ve created a marketing matrix that includes a referral program, bi-monthly newsletters, Google Adwords, Monthly Tech Tips, Webinars, speaking engagements, social media, free reports, blogging, and more.”

Joanna’s marketing “oil wells” that contributed to her massive growth:

  • Newsletters – The first year Joanna started her newsletter, she was able to attribute over $10,000 in MRR by the end of the year or $360,000 in Total Contract Value (TCV) based on a three-year contract. “We kept sending the newsletter, and I was kind of at a point where I thought, ‘What is this newsletter doing for us?’” Joanna said. “And bang, there was a woman that we sent it at the right time. Her ex-employer was looking for a managed service provider and she recommended us. It was just staying in front of her. She enjoyed our newsletter. As a matter of fact, we cut back a little bit at that time. And people came back and said, we are missing the newsletter. We love reading the articles, so it is working. I’m not going to cut it back.”
  • Google AdWords – Google AdWords has been a top lead generator for Joanna, generating $15,916 in MRR or $572,972 TCV. This marketing oil well has given her a 1673% Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Technology Business Reviews – One of the biggest surprises for Joanna came from implementing Technology Business Reviews, which gave her a 402% increase in product sales from existing clients. She admits it wasn’t until she saw her sales jump from $135,000 to $678,000 that she believed in the power of focusing on your existing customers. “When I implemented these Technology Business Reviews, I did not have the revenue increase in mind,” Joanna said. “The only thing I had in mind was customer service and client retention. I didn’t know that it was going to generate that much revenue, but people wanted to buy from us. I had non-salespeople doing those. Our clients were hungry and looking for ways to improve their business and their technology.”
  • Referral Program – Referral Programs are also a favorite lead generation source, generating $16,480 in MRR or $593,280 TCV. “Almost $600,000 in additional revenue for total contract value came from my referral program,” Joanna said. “A lot of that came from these Technology Business Reviews and being in front of those customers, talking to them and helping them. When you help people, they always want to give back. And they gave us referrals.”
  • Speaking and Webinars -Webinars generated $4,320 MRR or $155,520 TCV. Joanna started speaking at seminars, webinars, and conferences and even hosted her own events. She found piggybacking off customers and vendors events to be an effective way to get in front of a lot of new leads she wouldn’t have been able to get in front of otherwise. For example, teaming up with vendors such as Microsoft expanded her audience beyond her own list. To create her presentations, she drew from other members and material available within Technology Marketing Toolkit. “Speaking was never my thing,” Joanna recalled. “I actually was afraid of it… and then I got myself on stage and figured if I fail at it I’m still going to be alive, so I’ll be okay… once you start to get some practice, like anything, you get better at it.” Joanna started with webinars finding these to be less intimidating than speaking on stage. “The first one we did was on cybersecurity,” Joanna said. “We partnered up with another vendor who invited many of their customers and prospects for us, so we didn’t even have to get our own list. We had over 100 people attend… and we got seven audits.”  She advises before teaming up with a vendor, verify the industry, size, and location of the people on the list are a good fit for your business.
  • Personal Connection Campaign – Most recently, Joanna added a marketing oil well she created based on building personal business connections. Finding like-minded individuals (she calls them her “common connections”), she created unique experiences built around these connections. In just 6 months, spending only $500, Joanna has generated 24 leads, 15 first time prospect appointments and closed 5 new deals valued at $630,324 over the next 36 months (with more in the pipeline).

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

While Joanna customizes the marketing templates inside Technology Marketing Toolkit to fit her business, she does NOT change the wording. “We don’t really tweak a lot of the content to make it our own from the copywriting perspective, which is the difficult part,” Joanna said. “We put it on a letterhead, we put a little bit of our branding on it and that’s about it. It’s all done for you, so I recommend leaving it as it is. The key and most important component is that when you’re talking to a prospect, find out what is their pain point and then choose the report that is going to resonate with them.”

For example, if a prospect tells her their biggest issue has to do with how they lost lots of data because their IT provider didn’t back up their data properly, then she’ll send a report about what every business owner must know about protecting and preserving their company’s critical data.

“We customize these reports for the client and what their business needs are, but all of these, I didn’t write any of this,” Joanna said. “This is all Robin’s material.”

Follow The Formula, But Make It Your Own

The main thing Joanna spent time doing was going through all the done-for-you marketing and customizing it in a way that branded her company. This gave all the marketing pieces the same look and feel while making her material look different from anything the prospect had seen.  

For example, because MXOtech has been recognized as one of the nation’s fastest-growing outsourced IT companies by Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000” list, she included the Inc. 5000 logo at the bottom of the page on the cover of every report.

Systematize Your Sales Process

The combination of everything that Joanna was doing brought in a lot of leads. However, sales became more difficult because she was the only one able to close them.

“Before, I was the only salesperson, and that worked out great because the only lead generator I had were referrals,” Joanna said. “It wasn’t that many that I was overwhelmed, so I could run a business and still bring on those clients. But once we started generating all these leads, I realized that I needed some help.”

Hesitant to hire a salesperson because of a previous bad experience, she looked internally and approached her project manager who she felt would do a good job. “I knew he had a good sense of humor,” Joanna said. “He was bright. And he had been with me for five years. He was kind of getting bored with project management. I approached him and said, ‘I’d like you to consider going into sales.’”

With no sales experience, her project manager was reluctant to give it a try. This led Joanna to break down Robin Robin’s slippery slope sales process into an easy-to-follow 20-step, detailed, process-oriented, sales process for him to follow.

Systematizing the slippery slope sales process created a predictable, repeatable process that made growth possible and helped her business take off. Using this 20-step sales process, she could control the sales process without having to be involved in every step. Even better, this detailed, process-oriented sales process allows you to drop almost anyone into sales, even if they don’t identify themselves as a salesperson.

Today, other than large opportunities, Joanna has been able to remove herself entirely from the sales process except for the first sales call and the final pitch.

“I did not have a formal business education when I launched MXOtech in 2005. In 2012, I reevaluated both the kind of company I wanted to run and the people I wanted to work with,” Joanna said. “We adopted the managed services model, let go of staff who weren’t helping us grow, separated with vendors that weren’t supporting the business, and parted ways with clients that weren’t a good fit. I also joined Technology Marketing Toolkit, where I learned how to market my business.”

“At the time I met Robin Robins, I was desperate because I was spending over $5000 a month on marketing with a company that wasn’t producing results for me…,” Joanna continued. “We redid our website and we started to actually get calls from prospects to do business with us. That was like a miracle. No one had ever called us from our website before. Nobody. The results started coming in …that was really exciting. Everybody in the company was excited and from that moment I thought I’ve got to implement the rest of this.”

Her final piece of advice, “Just get started.” Doing something is better than doing nothing. “I was hung up on having to do everything just right,” Joanna said. “I’d have a million excuses for why we hadn’t started the marketing roadmap. I don’t have the time. I don’t have the money. I’m going to wait until… I just had to start.”

To get your FREE copy of the marketing roadmap Joanna Sobran used, download The Ultimate FREE Marketing Guide For MSPs by visiting www.ToolkitLive.com/help