It is my firm belief that one of the biggest reasons MSPs fail in marketing and sales is because they grossly underestimate the difficulty of getting a new client and automatically assume people will trust that they are “good guys” who will do a “good job.” Far from it.
For starters, almost all clients you are going to talk to already have an IT company, person, or resource. The question is this: Are they unhappy enough to make a change (many are not), and do they feel supremely confident that if they switch their support to you, you’ll deliver more value and better services than they are getting right now? And that, my folks, requires trust.
If they aren’t completely convinced that you will deliver far more value and far better service, why would they bother to switch? Switching IT providers is painful and disruptive. If a prospect makes a bad choice, they could end up with more problems, more costs, and more frustration. As the saying goes, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, which is why so many companies stay with their current IT provider. To them, it’s safer. “Shark Tank’s” Robert Herjavec said it best when he said, “When I started the Herjavec Group, I knew that nobody would leave someone good for someone potentially better.” He knew that he couldn’t go to market as another “plain vanilla” provider of IT services and has been very strategic about positioning his company as the experts in cybersecurity for complex, high-stakes environments, which is one of the primary reasons he’s one of the largest MSSPs in the world.
To dramatically improve their close rate, their ability to get clients to take their advice, the right to charge more than their competition (and get it), and the chance to usurp the best clients for themselves, MSPs need to stop selling “stuff” and instead focus on selling themselves — aka selling trust.
So, how do you sell “trust”? Well, it’s not as simple as a webpage or a sales letter. Earning marketplace trust takes time and dedicated effort, but the payoff is huge. And while I cannot deliver a complete dissertation on how to build trust in an organization, I can catalog a few ways you can start securing more trust with your clients and prospects alike.
Testimonials From Clients
One of the fastest, easiest ways to generate trust is to let your clients do it for you. I’m often asked by MSPs, “How many testimonials are too many?” My answer: You can’t have too many, and most MSPs fall waaay short on this in all their marketing and advertising. One place in particular would be their Google My Business directory listing. Not only is this important for SEO purposes, but also almost all prospects will Google you to find out what they can online, even if they were driven to you by a referral.
To that end, if you have no online reviews, or just one or two, you appear to be small and nonexistent, particularly if your competitors have dozens of raving reviews from clients.
The ‘About Us’ Page On Your Website
Fact check this: The second most-visited page on your website will be your “About Us” or “Contact Us” page (if you don’t have an about us section). That’s because prospects are looking to figure out who you are to determine if they can trust you. Sadly, most MSPs have the same stock standard rank and file information on these pages as every other competitor in their area. “We do IT services and support … blah, blah, blah.” Here are a few things I suggest you post; you don’t have to have them all, but having even a few will make a big difference to the people you are trying to attract as customers.
1. Your ‘Origin Story’: This is a short story about how you got started in the business. People want to know where you came from and why you’re in the business you’re in. It’s the second most-asked question I get. (The first is “What’s the one thing I should do …”) As an example, here is the story of one of our members, Ryan Haislar, CEO of Computerease. We featured him in one of our special editions where we told the story of him taking over the company from his father, a from-scratch entrepreneur who started the company when Ryan was a kid. We also told the story of how his father got thousands of dollars embezzled from him and how the event has driven Ryan to be the protector of small-business owners (like his dad) from cybercrime. If you want to read the story, go to MSPsuccessMagazine.com/ryan. If you want to see a brilliantly done backstory that helps Ryan connect with his clients, you really need to read it.
2. Your Vision And Mission Statement: Of course, it should be interesting and compelling. Our mission is “To build a community of success-minded entrepreneurs that inspires excellence, encourages collaboration, and expands the capacity of all members to achieve great things.” This is a very carefully constructed mission statement that truly hits on what we do around here — and it resonates with the members we keep long term.
3. Why You Work With Your Chosen Target Market: This does two things. First, it reveals who your chosen niche or target market is. It doesn’t have to be industry-specific, but you should detail who your customer is. Second, it gives you the opportunity to tell the story about how you came to choosing them. Hopefully, it’s an inspiring “romancing the stone” story, not a “I threw a dart and it landed here.” If that’s the case, either come up with something better or leave it out.
Staying with the example above, Ryan’s clients are all similar to his father: from-scratch entrepreneurs running small businesses. His story helps him further connect with those clients in a way that no big firm can compete with. They feel that he understands them and is a kindred spirit. Don’t overlook the power of affinity in influence and persuasion. People WANT to do business with people who share similar values and will often base their entire decision on who they favor with their business based on this alone.
4. Videos, Interviews, And Other Media: If you were interviewed on TV or quoted in a magazine, you should put that all on this page. It’s powerful “social proof” of your status and will elevate people’s trust in you. But even if you’ve never been on TV or interviewed on a radio show, you can have someone interview you or create a video “sizzle” reel about you and your company. Again, I point you to TechnologyMarketingToolkit.com/about-us.php to see an example of a sizzle reel we created about our company. Other items to include would be pictures of you with famous people or famous clients, books or papers you’ve published, and charitable organizations you support.
Another VERY important and powerful trust-building strategy is to make sure you are ultra-congruent in everything you do and say with your stated values and promotional claims. Last week, I had a cleaning company show up to my home to get a quote. I asked the women I met with for a business card or other materials, which she said she had in her car. I followed her out to see a filthy, dirty car with dings and scratches. She opened the trunk to rifle around for her brochure, and what I saw was stunning: Clothes, bags, and miscellaneous “stuff” were jammed in there. She then opened the passenger side door and a waft of garbage smell hit me from the giant bag of trash she had sitting on the passenger side floor, along with food bags and empty soda cans.
Inside the rest of the car was a mess too. She couldn’t find a business card, so she took one of her brother’s business cards and wrote her information on the back. I thanked her, took the material inside, and immediately threw it in the trash. If she cannot keep her car clean, how the heck is she going to run a crew to clean my home?
This same incongruence goes on all the time in business. MSPs who promote that they are “proactive” and “responsive” never answer their phones live and never return calls. Their websites are full of forms that don’t work and broken links. They show up late to meetings and are ill prepared. I’ve not only experienced this firsthand when searching for an MSP for my own company but have also seen it over and over again with MSPs who come to me seeking help in marketing, unable to figure out why they are unable to get leads or close sales. Often, they have massive incongruences in their behavior and marketing from their stated objective.
An Exercise I’d Recommend: Go through every touch point you have with a client or prospect and ask yourself how you are intentionally building trust. How are you demonstrating your value proposition, whatever it is? Trust me: You’ll find plenty of things you need to fix urgently.
Of course, almost all proof used to build trust can be dismissed or “debunked.” That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. You just need to know that a prospect who is determined not to buy or determined to stick to their vendor or point of view is not easily deterred. People have all kinds of ingrained biases and can choose to misinterpret any point you make or any fact you present. There is still a Flat Earth Society that dogmatically believes the Earth is flat, after all.
Still, putting together a well-rounded, completely trust-based marketing plan will get the majority of people convinced that you are the provider for them.