Author and humorist Erma Bombeck once quipped, “Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.” While she meant it to be funny, there’s a LOT of wisdom packed into that statement. A similar favorite mantra of mine, popularized by Harv Eker, is “How you do anything is how you do everything.”
So what does this have to do with selling IT services?
In a word, EVERYTHING. But let me back up a bit to make an important point…
It’s my observation that most MSPs fail in marketing because they grossly underestimate the difficulty of the task in getting a new client to buy. First, most have no concept of what their cost per lead and cost per sales are, or SHOULD be. Therefore, they underspend and/or choose media and advertising methods that are “cheap” and “easy” over what is actually necessary to get the job done. Next, they do very little study or preparation in creating the campaign. I see ads, articles, campaigns that are hastily put together that violate just about every rule in direct marketing known to elicit a response.
But what they MOST underestimate is how difficult it is to overcome the skepticism and fears of prospective clients. In fact, most MSPs don’t give any consideration – much less preparation – to HOW they will build trust to overcome these fears. First of all, prospects fear making another bad decision. If they’re talking to you about IT, chances are they’ve already been burned by a less-than-ethical or incompetent firm, and since IT is a big, SCARY topic that most business owners don’t understand, they worry they can easily be “had” in the same way my mother felt uneasy when being “sold” a list of car repairs by an auto mechanic back in the day.
They fear the work involved in changing vendors, and they might even fear telling the other IT company they’re fired, for fear of retribution or because they like them yet know they aren’t doing a good job (many people don’t like confrontation). They fear overspending their “hard-to-replace” dollars by paying more than they should, looking foolish. They fear they could lose BIG if they choose the wrong company, jumping from the frying pan into the fire; after all, businesses impart a LOT of trust into the company that has access to their data.
So when you’re selling IT, you are essentially selling TRUST. NOT proactive support, NOT managed services, NOT firewalls and spam filters, NOT a 24/7/365 help desk. None of that matters. If the prospect doesn’t trust you, they won’t buy your services, period.
Now, back to our opening and inconsistencies…
EVERYTHING you do in your business is either building trust or destroying it. Everything. How you answer the phone: Does a well-trained, polite and clearly competent person answer EVERY time, or is the call going to a voicemail where someone may or may not get back to them? How can you possibly try to sell me on how “proactive” you are when you don’t even answer your phones?
Does your website actually WORK? Does it have a correct phone number? Do all the forms work as they should? All the links? I can tell you from firsthand, evidence-based research, better than 50% of the websites for MSPs have broken links, broken forms, wrong numbers. A prospect will think, “How can you possibly manage my network when you can’t even get your website to function?”
If you are positioning yourself as the most “trusted” or “competent” IT firm in your area (and not the cheapest), do your marketing materials reflect that, or does it look like you printed them off on your home printer and stuck them in a folder from Staples? Or do you not have ANY collateral to give the prospect? How can you tell me you’re a professional, competent firm when you have no marketing collateral or other evidence to back that up? I could go on.
Point is, prospects are looking at everything you do to form an opinion and decide if they can trust you. ALL decisions are based on a “gut feeling” overall, not just price. If you’re inconsistent in your presentation, follow-up and interactions, you’re DESTROYING trust, not building it.