MSP SUCCEESSS MAGAZINE
Do You Believe In Magic? Penn Jillette Reveals The 3 Secrets Behind His Success
Extreme Marketing Productivity 3 Strategies To Drive Results
The 4 Forces Of Cash Flow Verne Harnish Breaks Down The 'Simple Numbers' Approach
ARE YOU MAXIMIZING PROFITABILITY? 6 Steps To Grow Your Margins Today
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Volume 1 Issue 7 CONTENTS
6 Maximize Your Margins: Insider Secrets That Make You Money 8 The Final Piece In How Automation Can Drive Efficiency In Your Business Part 3 10 Stop Wasting Time: How Your Sales Team’s Lack Of Productivity Is Costing You Money 12 MSP Business Feature: Find Out How Sandwire Defines Success 14 Extreme Marketing Productivity: 3 Strategies To Drive Results
22 MSP Hot Tech Our Top 5 Tools To Give Your Business A Competitive Edge
23 The Sales Playbook:
Jack Daly On How You Can Win Big
24 The 4 Forces Of Cash Flow: Verne Harnish Breaks Down The 'Simple Numbers' Approach 26 Quotable Quotes Taking Risks
Penn Jillette Of Penn & Teller On Practice, Partnerships, And Authenticity
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LETTER FROM THE EDI TOR
The REAL Reason You’re Not Getting Things Done
IMPORTANT UPDATE: This edition was written and ready to go to print just as the coronavirus started making headlines. We decided to continue with this edition because, now more than ever, our community needs encouragement and inspiration, which is what our magazine is all about. Please be sure to visit us online, where we are compiling DOZENS of free resources, tools, discounts, freebies, and more to help you THRIVE during this crisis: MSPSuccessMagazine.com/thrive The other day I pulled a 14-hour day — a solid, honest, “run through the day, not walk” 14 hours, starting at 6 a.m. at my desk and wrapping up at 8:10 p.m. — not 14 hours stretched out with long coffee breaks, an hour lunch, a workout, etc. Food was hastily eaten standing up, coffee was made while on conference calls, and piles of work were messily surrounding my desk as I quickly (urgently) moved from one thing to the next. By the end of the day, my ear hurt from wearing my headset. But MOST important was that I wasn’t just busy, but productive , getting an ENORMOUS amount of important work done. Multiple initiatives moved forward, and I made progress and accomplished my objectives. It seems to me that far too many people run around “busy” all day but are rarely productive. They’re constantly snacking on social media, watching videos, texting, staring into their phones, wandering around the office at the water cooler, and incessantly checking email. All BUSY work, but definitely NOT industrious. There IS a major difference, and if you want to secure a higher-than-average income as a salesperson, executive, or owner and profitably run a high seven- to eight-figure IT services business, you’ll have to get this very, very right. Not just hustle, but hustle on the RIGHT things with intention and purpose. Too many days of distracted, unproductive work and you’re too behind to catch up. In my experience working with MSPs and IT services business owners who are small and struggling, the common thread is their complete lack of ability to make smart time choices and organize themselves, their work, and their schedules to ensure they actually make progress every day. In most cases, they don’t even understand the time-money link, routinely wasting time at $10–$15 an hour while they ignore more strategic and important work, excused for not “having the time” to get to it, saved for “tomorrow” or sometime in the future when they “get around to it.” Pfui. This unproductive behavior is almost entirely based in a total lack of HONEST AMBITION and genuine desire to accomplish the wishes they utter or secretly hold for more money, more security, and more success. They say they want it but remain too distracted (on purpose) to organize and discipline their own daily behaviors, constantly holding back, hesitating, and slow-walking it. Napoleon Hill wrote about “burning desire” as one of the characteristics of entrepreneurial giants. Very few of the small-business owners I see struggling with productivity are really “on fire” and relentless about achieving their stated goals. They aren’t intensely studying and aggressively consuming useful information on how to accomplish them nor ardently working on imple- menting what they’ve learned every day, teeth bared and steamrolling
Founder and CEO, Technology Marketing Toolkit, Inc.
anything and anyone standing in their way of obtaining those goals. They aren’t ruthlessly intolerant of missed deadlines and goals and poor performance from themselves, vendors, and people who work for them. They lack clear goals and daily, weekly, and monthly productivity measurements, constantly giving themselves “timeouts” and extensions. NO urgency. At the end of my day, I know if it’s been a pro- ductive one based on goals I’ve set, productivity measurements, key performance indicators, and milestones completed and/or set in motion. How about YOU? How fiercely committed are you to your stated objective and goals? This edition of MSP Success is dedicated to ENTREPRENEURIAL PRODUCTIVITY because it IS a critical component to accomplishment and achievement that con- stantly needs monitoring, study, and improve- ment. Time is one of our most precious assets, and a minute wasted is one we cannot recapture or profit from. n
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ON THE HOR I ZON
CRITICAL STEPS To Drive Higher Margins For Your MSP Business
As an MSP, you provide invaluable benefits to your customers, yet far too often, you’re leaving money on the table. At every stage of the client life cycle, there are critical steps that, when taken, can maximize the value of each opportunity. From the top of the sales funnel down to the nitty-gritty details of implementation, we’ve identified key chances for MSPs to generate additional revenue and improve their operational efficiency to increase margins.
Communicating Value And Expanding Repertoires MSPs can do a lot of things for their clients, most of which can’t be replicated with their own homegrown talent and resources. But it’s quite common for MSPs to undersell the magnitude of the benefits their services bring to the table. To an MSP, these services might feel like a commodity, which drives some to undervalue and underprice what they’re pitching to prospects. But high-performing MSPs are separating themselves from the pack by continually adding new services. When it comes to IT services outsourcing, the vast majority of customers want one-stop shopping. They need a trusted partner that views their systems holistically, not just a collection of point solutions operating in a vacuum. An MSP that can advise custom- ers on what they need today and tomorrow is essential given the complexity of an ever-shifting IT landscape. This begins with the language MSPs use to position themselves. MSPs limiting themselves to specific technical areas and simply reacting to customer requests — versus proactively exploring all possibilities — are selling themselves short when articulating their value proposition. The Art Of The Cross-Sell It typically costs about 125% to 150% of a customer’s monthly recurring revenue (MRR) to close an initial deal, factoring in the various sales and marketing expenses. That’s why MSPs fight so hard to keep their existing customers happy. In the software industry, it’s standard practice to lure in new cus- tomers with a particular product or service. Then, once customers are in the fold, businesses increase each client’s value by continu- ally pushing them to purchase additional offerings. But for whatever reason, this is usually not the case with MSPs that often do not have a strong sales culture within their organiza- tion. Instead, most MSPs work very hard to cram as many services as possible into the initial deal, then move on to other prospects once that deal is closed. This leaves a tremendous amount of revenue on the table.
Close More Business Offer More Services Keep More Customers HELPINGMSPS TO MORE
Although a customer may not have initially been interested in backup or compliance services during the sales cycle, their needs will change over time. Plus, once they start seeing how much value they’re getting from working with your MSP, they’ll be much more open to expanding the relationship. For MSPs, not pursuing cross-sell opportunities within their current client base is a huge mistake. The costs to win additional business from existing customers is negligible, but cross-selling can dramatically improve an MSP’s MRR. With customers already in the fold, MSPs can assess each client to see where opportunities for expansion lie. This includes proac- tively checking to see if the client’s security is adequate, if they are planning for backup and disaster recovery, or if they are undergo- ing a digital transformation that requires additional cloud services. Pricing For Profit Another area where MSPs aren’t always maximizing their margins is pricing their services. The underlying rationale for their price tags is often a hodgepodge of formulas and approaches. Some MSPs are purely driven by what they see competitors charging. Others try to guess what the engagement will cost them, tack on some margin, and present it to customers, and some simply ask customers what they can afford and try to make it work. There’s no reason to adopt such a slapdash pricing strategy. By doing a little bit of homework, you can follow a standard formula that always nets a healthy margin: • Calculate the cost of the tools required to manage the account. • Tabulate the labor required for proactive services (such as monitoring endpoints or installing patches and upgrades). • Tabulate the labor required for reactive services (e.g. fixing stuff when it breaks). With these figures in hand, MSPs can add it all up, divide it by the number of seats, and see exactly how much it’s costing them per seat to support each type of service. Take that number, tack on a 70% margin, and the pricing is all set. Of course, not every MSP is already tracking these metrics, so it might require some effort to complete this exercise and create a systematic way to assess your expenses. But without that under- lying cost data, any pricing calculations are essentially being done blind. MSPs are inevitably undercounting just how much it’s really costing them to deliver and, therefore, underpricing in most cases. Charge what your services are worth and don’t be afraid to turn away prospects or fire clients that don’t match your model. Every bad deal with low margins is taking up bandwidth that could be spent landing and supporting customers with higher margins and greater upside. Mandating Standardization Unless you’re lucky enough to have a startup knock on your door and ask for help from day one of their business, MSPs are inheriting a potpourri of legacy systems when they onboard a new client. But just because a customer is using a particular solution before signing on doesn’t mean MSPs must settle for the status quo.
Every additional variant an MSP supports is a direct hit on their ability to maximize profitability and efficiency. So, if your new client is using a firewall, server, or anti-virus solution that you don’t typi - cally support, your staff are now going to require additional training and must keep tabs on new patches, upgrades, security alerts, and firmware updates frommultiple vendors. Then there’s the impact of “switching costs” as your staff shift from one vendor’s platform to the next. And, of course, these systems require monitoring with a variety of dashboards that may not integrate well or use common terminology or user interfaces. MSPs should make their lives — and the lives of their staff — easier by switching clients to their preferred solutions as part of the engagement. Most customers don’t really care about which vendor’s solutions they’re running on; they just want things to work. If a particular prospect is unwilling to make the transition, MSPs should seriously consider walking away from the opportunity. While that additional revenue is nice, supporting multiple vendor solu- tions directly impacts profitability and the ability to scale efficiently. With this approach, staff only need to get certified on a limited number of platforms, and the business is primed to fully exploit the benefits of automation. MSPs also shouldn’t be afraid to approach existing customers and get them to switch to their preferred solutions. Even if that results in losing some business, it will pay off in the long run as engagements become more uniform, automated, efficient, and profitable.
Exponential Capacity Thanks To Automation
Many MSPs are pretty small operations —more than one-third have fewer than 10 employees. But that doesn’t mean they have to hire an army of minions to accelerate growth. By standardizing on a comprehensive tool set supporting the full range of IT services they’re looking to provide, many routine tasks can be automated. This frees up their limited staff to focus on the hard, interesting challenges, letting day-to-day matters run on autopilot much of the time. Automation enables MSPs to increase their book of business without ramping up headcount. This leads directly to increased profits and potential for growth. Integration For The Win Core applications like remote monitoring and management, professional services automation, and IT documentation are table stakes for any MSP. Unfortunately, many MSPs treat these as discrete tools in their arsenal. But amongst high-growth MSPs, 80% believe integration between core MSP applications is important, and 92% connect this integra- tion to helping them drive better bottom-line profits. Adopting a common platform for as many services as possible saves MSPs time and money, and there’s no better place to start than with the most commonly used apps. Remember, time is money! Your staff only has so many hours in a day, so devising ways to get the most out of them by eliminating inefficiencies is key to increasing margin on every engagement. n
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AUTOMAT ION VACAT ION
Part 3: The Ultimate, Handy-Dandy, 'Finally Moving To A Marketing System Software' Checklist
Remember those “choose your own adventure” books? You got to decide your character’s next actions at the end of each chapter, which took you to a new scenario, most of the time ending in your death. Or at least that’s how my “choose your own adventures” ended up: falling into a pit of snakes or getting eaten by an Amazonian spider. Marketing automation is much like a “choose your own adventure” for our contacts. They unknowingly determine our next marketing touch through their actions (or often lack of action). Thankfully for our contacts who enter into our market- ing automation sequences, it doesn’t end fatally.
How To Get More Clients For Your IT Services Business Need More Clients? Better Clients? That is by far the #1 question I get. There are hundreds, even thousands of ways. Most require significant financial investment. However, I’d like to give you 6 top ways to get more clients that won’t require you to spend a dime on advertising. They’re all here in this free report with bonus video training. Go to www.ToolkitLive.com/6ways to get your free digital download. Let’s do a quick refresher on what marketing automation is before we dive into what to look for. Marketing Automation Tool : A marketing automation tool is software that “streamlines sales and marketing organizations by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automat- ed solutions.” Basically, we put marketing on autopilot and set up push-button, “choose your own adventure”-style marketing. Not only will a marketing automation tool systematize and automate your marketing touches, but it will also track and report on actions taken, conversions made, and possible pitfalls in your marketing since we are tracking contacts movement through our marketing.
WAYS TO DOUBLE SALES AND CLIENTS WithOUT Spending A Dime ON MARKETING OR ADVERTISING 6
Go to www.ToolkitLive.com/6ways for your FREE Report and Bonus Video Training
Here Is A List Of What To Look For When You Are Choosing Your Marketing Automation Tool
• Plug in a dialer so your inside salespeople can make calls faster AND allow you to track their call activity, track their call outcomes, and record the call (and the audio file of the recording) right in that prospect’s record. • Plug in an online calendar to allow prospects and clients to automatically book an appointment with you 100% on their own. • Plug into your primary line-of-business application as well as other commonly used applications. Does it have an open and developer-friendly application program interface? • Track all email activity as well as RESPONSE TO ALL CAMPAIGNS, phone calls, and purchase history on ALL campaigns (direct mail, social media, web forms, phone calls, in-person meetings, etc.). • Handle your opt-outs, bounces, and spam reports automatically. • Provide robust reporting on conversions for ALL touch points in the marketing and sales cycle. Marketing automation will absolutely save you time and headaches in marketing by removing manual work and making you more efficient, but it also enables you to make smarter business decisions based on the insight it gives you into your marketing and sales — if and when you choose the RIGHT tool. Be selective, picky, and discerning when choosing yours. n Full disclosure: We do have a horse in this race. We design, resell, and support an MSP-specific version of Infusionsoft (a TRUE marketing system) to our clients called Robin’s MAP Infusionsoft. For more info on MAP, check out MSPMarketing- CRM.com.
Your marketing automation tool should have the ability to … • Create “if-then” sequences and automate the man- agement of those sequences based on what the pros- pect/client does. • Provide a variety of “triggers” for the sequences , such as link clicks, web form-fills, purchases, appointment bookings, no responses, and more. • Have all leads that opt in to ANY web form be instantly entered into your customer relationship management system. It should create a series of tasks that enables someone to qualify the lead and call to follow up. It should also automate an email follow-up sequence which then STOPS if they book an appointment, say they’re not interested, or don’t buy. • Automate a variety of campaigns , NOT just email and digital. Can it automate direct mail campaigns, event pro- motion and follow-up, webinars, telemarketing campaigns, and other multimedia campaigns? • Conduct Boolean searches and reports BASED on ANY contact data, such as industry, products owned/services they have, purchase history, campaign response, date entered, call status, title, and more. • Run searches and reports QUICKLY (as in within a few minutes) to create a list segment to target for a campaign.
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THE ROB IN ROB INS REVEAL
How Your Sales Team’s LACK OF PRODUCTIVITY Is Robbing You Blind
I f you’re reading this magazine, I know you are ambi- tious, hardworking, smart, and constantly looking for the “slight edge” to grow sales, clients, and monthly recurring revenue. You work tirelessly on your business. You are the first one in the door in the morning and the last one to leave at night; you work on weekends, through vaca- tions, and over holidays. You’re also the one with all the risk and responsibility, the last one getting paid if things go south. And that’s the problem: There’s only one you. No matter how disciplined you are with your time, there are only so many hours in a day, and you can only relegate yourself to a certain level of success. If you want to grow, you must start hiring right-fit, smart, capable people who can get the job done, or you will end up being a “tech with helpers”
instead of a true business owner. While finding good techs is hard, one of the areas you probably struggle with the most is finding capable sales professionals who have the same passion, commitment, common sense, and work ethic as you. Candidly, finding and recruiting great salespeople is one of my biggest challenges too. There are a lot of sales imposters out there you have to weed through, and even more “sales preventers” who claim to be salespeople who you have to be careful not to employ. You are dealing with humans, so even if they start out strong, they’re vulnerable to personal issues, emotional baggage, loss of motivation, etc. If you think finding good people is hard, then you’ll soon see that finding good salespeople is brutal .
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Here’s an inconvenient truth: All successful MSPs that are experiencing profitable growth have one thing in common: a productive, well-staffed, growing sales department. If you want to grow your organization, it is a necessary “evil” you must invest in. Most MSPs are far too heavily staffed on oper - ations and tech without salespeople, similar to a car with all engine and no gas pedal. For high-growth firms, you’ll routine - ly see 20%–40% of their staff dedicated to sales and selling. But adding more sales “bodies” is not the absolute answer either. Your sales department must be ruthlessly managed for profitability and performance. Half of the job is finding the right person, someone who can sell and will sell. If you’re not willing to enforce productivity and manage activities, even for “good” people, your sales team will end up being a giant time and money suck on your organization. Larry Schulze, founder of Taylor Business Group (now retired), had a great presentation about building a profitable IT services business. In his presentation, he explained how your techs must have a 75% utilization rate in order for you to make a good profit, which means they are working on billable client projects 30 hours in a 40-hour week, reserving 10 hours a week for everything else (documentation, traveling to a client’s office, staff meetings, etc.). If you ignore this metric — or fail to track it, enforce it, and continuously strive for it — you’ll end up being barely profitable or even losing money. He often told the story about a client who discovered that one of his top guys, who he was paying a premium salary to, would routinely go home during the day to mow the lawn, work around the house, or take a nap when he was supposed to be on-site working at a client’s office, but the office manager of the client was a friend and would cover for him. This is not uncommon , and to Schulze’s point, you must view all of your employees’ hours as inventory that you purchased. If they screw around, come in late, go home early, or use any of those hours for playing games or running personal errands, they are stealing paid-for inventory from you . While I don’t think any CEO would begrudge a few minutes a day on per- sonal activities, spending hours a day browsing social media, shopping, gambling, and running personal errands is a hor- rendous violation of professional ethics, and so is going home early and coming in late. Just try not paying an employee for all the hours they worked and see how that goes over. You’ll get a not-so-friendly visit from the U.S. Department of Labor. Now, Let’s Consider That Same Concept For A Salesperson The loss is not just limited to the base salary you are giving them. The real loss is in opportunities: sales that you should have closed but didn’t and leads that you paid to produce that should have been followed up with and converted to paying clients but were left abandoned, ignored, and up for com- petitors to steal. You also must consider bigger-ticket, more
complete solutions that should have been sold to the client but weren’t even mentioned or presented, costing not only lost sales but also potentially harming the client because they weren’t sold everything they need. When you add all of this up, the losses are staggering. So how do you deal with this? The First And Most Important Step Is To Stop Accepting Less Than You Should From Your Salespeople At a minimum, take a hard, pragmatic look at what you’re getting from your salespeople as a whole and individually for what you’re investing in both time and money. Most MSPs and business owners in general accept and tolerate horrible pro- ductivity and low performance, excusing it away because the salesperson is a nice guy and is “trying.” This is often because they can’t find anyone better because they don’t want to do the tough job of managing and enforcing quotas and systems, and they don’t want to deal with firing and starting over, if necessary. If you won’t do this, you’ll never have a high-performing sales team. Not only will the duds gather, dragging you down with them, but the high achievers also won’t work for you because of your lazy, soft approach that doesn’t allow them to make the money they can get somewhere else. Second, Manage Using Leading Produc- tivity Measurements How many prospects do your salespeople need to talk to in order to secure a new opportunity? Which prospects specifi - cally should they be calling on? How many opportunities will turn into a paying client? What does the average client spend with you, and are you continually increasing that number? Are your salespeople following up, presenting, and closing as you’d like them to, or are they winging it, cherry-picking only the easy opportunities, ignoring the “warm” leads that need a little work, and sloppily presenting the cheapest, easi- est-to-sell products and services? As Pearson’s law states, anything measured improves, and anything measured and reported back accelerates the rate of improvement. If you want your sales team to perform, they have to track and report upon activities, and you, as a manag- er, must inspect those activities to ensure they are being done to the quality and quantity you want. Are some salespeople self-managed? Yes, but they are rare, and even those who are highly motivated benefit from good management. Want a FREE sales management checklist of the metrics you need to measure and manage in order to maximize the performance of your sales team? Go online and get it now at MSPSuccessMagazine.com/saleschecklist . n
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MSP SPOTL IGHT
What Are The Top Three Metrics You Use To Measure Your Business And Why? Hours spent per client, per month: I want to know how much time we’re spending on each client every month so I know if we are charging appro- priately. When I look at the hours spent on each client, I can see how much work is being put in, and these hours are so valuable because if we’re spending a high amount of time on one client, we need to find the source of that problem. If you’re really good, the tickets that are open should equal the ones that are closed, but if it’s out of control, then we’re behind. The bottom line is that we need to know if we are making money or losing money on a client. You can dive in deep with anything, rip it apart, and disseminate it, but some- times, you just need to get the bigger picture. Gross sales: I want to know our gross sales because it’s vital for me to know how much we are selling. It gives me a gauge of what was sold the month before and what that could mean for our company. You want to see that number go as high up as it can possibly go. Of course, you want to see growth in all your metrics, but this is an important one. Receivables: This is how we know if we are operating correctly. Our billing can be very challenging, but receivables will tell you if people are happy. As the CEO of this company, I want to know if our customers are paying on time, what products we are continually selling, and if I’m doing all I can to ensure the success of the company. These metrics all work in concert with each other. Knowing how many hours you spent working on a client, how much we are sending back, and how much goes into each account gives me a pulse on how the business is doing. What’s The Top Lesson You Had To Learn That Allowed You To Kick-Start Your Business Growth? I was in my late teens or early 20s when I began working in rock ‘n’ roll and night clubs. This was just as computers were coming out, and I used one all the time. I would make passes and flyers, and soon, I was relying on the computer for a variety of purposes. After all, when you work in that business, you develop many talents. But by the mid-1990s, there weren’t as many clubs, so I had to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew how to work on computers, Leveraging Your Process, Relationships, And Leadership For Success
Company: Sandwire Corporation Year Founded: 1997 Headquartered: Long Island, New York Geographic Market: New York and the tri-state region
Top Growth Indicator: Less customer service calls YoY % Of Growth: About 10% per year CEO And Founder: Adam Schwam
and I was good at it. So, while IT was still in the embryonic stage, I opened up my doors in a radio station I was working with, and they became my first client. I was lucky enough to have friends in the club business who had many talents, and that’s when I learned one of my biggest lessons as a business owner: delegate, delegate, delegate. Any task that someone else can do or that you can automate — get it off your plate. As the owner of a small business, your goal is to have nothing to do. A lot of that I had to learn at the beginning because I was starting to flunk pretty quickly. I was starting to do it all myself, but I learned that I couldn’t do that and expect success. If you’re out in the ocean and you have a long swim, you want to do that with someone. It’s difficult to drown when there’s someone else there. What Would You Say Has Been The Single Secret To Your Success In The Past Year? I’ve been using Kaseya for years, and Kaseya has purchased all of these really beneficial products that have made our processes easier. There’s one vendor. There’s one support. It all integrates together, and you can see it in one place. It’s a unified platform. It makes it easier to purchase products, sell products, and automate because you’re using fewer platforms. When you have a backup program from one company, a password holder from another company, and a scheduler from yet another company, you’re opening new platforms all at once, and that’s without open- ing a client’s machine! You want to be able to unify yourself. In addition, I have found marketing can benefit charity; it’s not just networking on computers. We network people together, and when I’m integrating myself in the community, I’m networking with those opportunities. Charitable gifting is awesome because it really does help. It feels good, and then those philanthropists support you. I’m just shy of 50 years old, and I boxed for charity this year! My friend and I raised $65,000. (If you want to see me train and box, you can even check out my film on YouTube by searching for Sandwire. "Rocky" fans are going to love it.) What Was The Biggest Challenge You Had To Overcome This Past Year Related To Your Growth Or As A Result Of That Growth? Understanding our workflow and actually utilizing our platforms have been key. For example, if you have to deliver a computer or a network, you shouldn’t start that planning process at the beginning. Work backward. That way, you can work your way through the entire workflow and what needs to happen to get you to each point. That took a long, long, long time for me to understand. As things change, you really need to re-onboard yourself. At Sand- wire, we had someone go through our different platforms from the beginning, learn our process, and comb through the platforms again. Then they had the perspective of our process with a fresh set of eyes. Who Would You Say Is The Most Impactful Business Leader Or Thought-Leader, Whose Techniques Or Leader- ship Style You Try To Emulate Or Are Influenced By? Why?
Rob Basso with Associated HCM is a local guy and someone I look up to. Rob has been really successful in business, and it’s because he understands how it all fits together. He doesn’t just understand sales; he gets how sales influence workflow and how that influenc - es the company dynamic. Even though he’s in administration, he understands that there’s a customer service piece that is vital to success. I’ve known Rob for a while, and he’s a fixture of our community. When we attend these roundtable events, he freely offers this information, understanding that success breeds success. Because of his expertise, Rob has been featured on MSNBC and in Fortune. He’s even written a book called “The Everyday Entrepreneur.” I would recommend his advice to anyone. His expertise is valuable, and it’s worth learning more about. What Book Would You Recommend That Other MSPs Trying To Grow Their Business Should Read? I read a lot of books, but the most intense realization I’ve had came from “Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box” by The Arbinger Institute. I never knew I was standing in such a large box. I couldn’t even see past the flaps! I was like Nine Inch Nails — I was down in it! This book is unlike any business book you’ve ever read. It tells a story about a CEO who wants an employee to come to a meeting, and you don’t know what it’s about. As you read it, you learn about how you’re deceiving yourself and the people you work with. It leads you through a maze and teaches you how to get out of the box. Hint: The ladder to get you out of your box is all your people. By the end of it, I realized that I was not the leader I thought I was, and I had many revelations. I saw that it was easy to see the flaws in people, but you also have to understand that they have good characteristics too. It keeps you from surrounding yourself with people who have the capacity to cause major problems. You take a deep look inside yourself to discover the type of person you are and how to look at yourself as a better person. You need to take a long look in the mirror and make those changes. “Leadership and Self-Deception” helps you get there. In Closing, Are There Any Words Of Wisdom That You Would Give To Other MSPs Looking To Grow Or Build A Successful Exit For Their Business? It’s interesting because it all comes from the same place. If you want a successful exit, you have to be in order. If you want to be successful, you have to be in order. Employees and employers have expectations for each other, and those have to be honored. It’s also not just about a client’s expecta- tion of us; it’s about my expectations of a client. You have to have a clear understanding of each other too. As an MSP, we interface with every person in our clients’ organi- zations, which means our responsibility is to make sure our clients’ employees are productive all day. We know more about their employees in some cases than they do! So, when I pitch myself to a potential client, I make sure they understand that I don’t take this lightly. We’re the psychologists and the technologists of their com- pany. We sit on the management team of every clients’ company, and you need to set that expectation from the start. n
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INS IDER ACCESS
This month, I thought I’d take a brief hiatus from the usual marketing lesson and discuss another topic every bit as important and very closely related to marketing success and your ability to make money: MARKETING PRODUCTIVITY. Never before in our lives has there been such complexity in managing a marketing department and a need for disciplined discrimination about where you spend your time and money. For nearly 30 years, I’ve sold and consulted companies on marketing, advertising, sales, and lead generation. It’s not that long ago in our history when all an IT services business owner had to do in marketing was to re-up their Yellow Pages ad, print up some business cards and a brochure for the occasional networking event, send out a few postcards, and maybe — maybe — have a website. Outside salespeople were called “outside” salespeople because they had to leave the office — go outside — to hunt. Now, sales floors are eerily silent, with many salespeople timidly hiding behind email, LinkedIn messages, texts, etc. to prospect. (NOT a strategy I recommend, by the way.) Now look at what’s involved … You can’t just have a website. To be effective, a website must have excellent search engine optimization (SEO), which requires not only a correct architecture from the initial design but also a constant updating of fresh, new material and correctly written, keyword-phrased optimized content, fast-loading and responsive design, strategic backlinking, social media integration, opt-in pages, instant messaging, and live-answered phones during business hours (at a minimum). But it doesn’t end there … Now you must have your Google Places listing claimed, completely updated, and monitored to respond to online reviews — not only on Google, but also Yelp, Glassdoor, and any number of review sites relevant to your audience. You have to be “find - able” online or your integrity is questioned; what kind of business must you be running if I can’t find ANYTHING about you online? Then there’s social media — and you cannot just say “social media” as an all-encompassing unit. Each platform has different Extreme MARKETING Productivity: How To Get The Most Out Of Every Activity, Every Dollar, And Every Minute You Invest
uses, strategies for lead generation, rules for optimization and building an audience, etc. To add to the steaming pile of “STUFF” you need to pay attention to and manage, paying clients and even potential prospects feel completely justified in assaulting you on EVERY social media platform, instant messaging you random questions about your services on your personal Facebook page, posting a (serious) customer support question or request in a tweet, sending you a message on LinkedIn asking for help or to buy, commenting on Instagram, asking a question in the comments of your YouTube video, and even posting a negative or unfavorable review for the public to see. And they expect an instant response. Assuredly, all of this social connectivity is a dual-edged sword where you CAN reach hundreds, if not millions, of potential clients online and via email, texts, retargeting, SEO, posted content, etc. — but simultaneously open the door for a tsunami of irrele- vant information and a need to sift, sort, and respond to it all or generate a significant un-wow, costing you lost opportunity, a bad reputation, etc. To simply deal with it (and I mean “deal” as in “dealing” with a cockroach problem, not capitalize), companies are being forced to hire full-time customer service departments to monitor ALL social media platforms to watch for and respond to such messages at a significant expense. If you’re a small business, this is a cost you are most likely unable to afford to put in place. So, what do you do? Here are my top three best strategies you can (and should) implement to ensure maximum productivity in your marketing. 1. Choose carefully where you advertise and have a presence based on where YOUR clients go, NOT where the “cool kids” are today. A colleague of mine hunted me down at an event we were both attending to pick my brain about how we’re using YouTube to drive leads and sales. He had invested countless hours recording and posting
DOZENS of videos with very little success. My first question to him was, “Are your clients paying attention to YouTube?” He didn’t know for sure, so at my encouragement, he sent out an email to his clients asking how much time they spent on YouTube. More than 90% said they NEVER go to YouTube. Mystery solved. He was under the impression YouTube was a fantastic social media platform based on what he saw everyone else doing but hadn’t bothered to ensure that his customers, the people writing him checks, were actually going there. Similarly, many MSPs pick marketing strategies based on what’s cheap, free, and easy to do — NOT on what delivers the highest quality leads. There IS a price for “free” and “easy” you have to pay in time invested and skill. If you won’t put the time in and you’re unwilling to study and do the work, “free” is worth exactly the results you get. Direct mail, telemarketing, and other offline marketing may be more difficult and expensive but can often outperform online marketing done as a solo media. My recommendation is to pay attention to lead quality, not just quantity and perceived ease in the market- ing strategy, to get clients. 2. Create marketing oil wells, NOT one-off campaigns. A marketing oil well is a systematic approach to marketing, a proven process, you can repeat and produce similar results with little variance. It can, and often does, involve multiple media, simultaneously triggered toward an offer or getting a client or prospect to take an action, be it to buy a service or schedule a consultation. For example, to drive atten- dance to a seminar, we will use an online landing page for registration and information gathering, along with email, direct mail, telemarketing, retargeting, LinkedIn messages, and social media posts and ads. All of these are run simul- taneously to a chosen list segment or target market in a well-planned sequence. That sequence, and the results and details, are then documented so we can REPEAT the same campaign multiple times, making improvements with every iteration and, MOST IMPORTANTLY, NOT having to recreate the wheel. Far too many people indulge in random acts and “one-and-done” marketing attempts. This is ENORMOUSLY wasteful. Instead, work at building marketing ASSETS — campaigns, offers, and pieces you can use over and over again to a fresh batch of prospects. "Similarly, many MSPs pick marketing strategies based on what’s cheap, free, and easy to do — NOT on what delivers the highest quality leads."
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3. Stick with marketing strategies LONG enough to get them to work. For the past six years, I’ve run a produc- tive telemarketing department in my organization that routinely cranks out quality appointments for my sales team, fills seminars and webinars, follows up on inbound leads, and drives growth forward. It’s a critical component to our success. Clients often ask me how to find and hire productive telemarketing people and build that team. Most START by hiring someone part time or trying to outsource. They inevitably foul it up and get no results because getting it right is truly difficult , particularly when you’re just start- ing out, but that’s not the mistake. The mistake is when that person or company doesn’t work out, and they wait months, even years, before attempting it again. I’ve told them repeatedly that when they’re hiring telemarketers, hire two, then place your ad for their replacement TODAY. It’s as certain as the sun rising that at least one won’t perform well, will quit, or start great then fizzle out, etc. That’s not meant as discouragement but rather “accurate thinking” about what is necessary to play the game right. If you stick with it long enough, you’ll build systems and processes, and eventually leadership, that will manage that aspect of marketing for you — but you’ll NEVER get there with a start-stop, start-stop approach with LONG pauses in between. Does telemarketing work? HELL YES. Is it difficult to get right? HELL YES. The good news is that it gets easier the more you do it, the bigger you build it, and the more resources you build over time . n
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“I believe there is something you get from doing something thousands of times that you can’t get any other way,” Penn says.
16 | MSPSUCCESSMAGAZ INE.COM • VOLUME 1 I SSUE 7
The Power Of Dedication (And A Little Magic)
Leverage Yourself, Your Partners, And Your Practice With Penn Jillette’s Secrets To Success
W hen Penn Jillette was kicked off the stage after showering late-night television show host David Letterman and his desk in cockroaches on national television in the 1980s, Penn’s first thought was of his mother. Leading up to the now-legendary performance, Penn called his mom to clue her in on the trick he and his partner, Teller, planned to perform for Letterman’s audience. It was a trick that was months in the making — a trick Letterman had practically asked for. After their first “Late Night” performance months earlier, Letterman encouraged the then-rising illusion- ist duo, known as Penn & Teller, to give him all they had next time. He wanted the audience to sympathize with him and really feel his astonishment in the misdirection. So, Teller proposed a now-famous idea to Penn: “We could dump half a million cockroaches on him.” The duo spent weeks practicing their moves and finding materials that cockroaches wouldn’t cling to. They worked with researchers, familiarized themselves with the bugs, covered their arms and legs in cockroaches, and found the best species for their bit. They rehearsed tirelessly and secretly for weeks before pitching it to “Late Night” producer Robert Morton. The producer was hesitant because of Letter- man’s phobia of bugs, but Letterman, who had no idea what
the scheme was, persuaded Morton to let Penn & Teller do whatever they wanted. Penn’s mom warned her son otherwise. “She said, ‘You’ll never work in show business again,’” Penn remembers of their conversation. “‘You can’t drop bugs on a person at their own show!’” But they did, and the result was a maddening reaction from Letterman and a legendary trick that fans and viewers still remember. Letterman had no clue what was going to happen and was every bit as angry as he appeared to be on television, even when the cameras stopped rolling. “We broke for a commercial break, and I went to shake Dave’s hand, as is customary,” Penn recalls, “and he said, ‘Get the f--- away from me!’ I thought, ‘Oh, geez, Mom was right.'” Penn & Teller left the studio without knowing their fate. At the time, they had been performing together for less than a decade after partnering in the late ‘70s and were still climbing the ranks as household names. They hadn’t yet secured the prime spot on late-night TV, and the Letterman slot had been their stepping stone, albeit a stone they had just dumped an entire top hat of bugs onto. The next day, they got their answer. “Dave called up and said, ‘Penn, I watched the cockroach segment last night. It’s the best bit we’ve ever had on the
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show. You can do whatever you want on the show. Goodbye,’” Penn shares. “I still don’t think that I have the focus on what I do to overcome my fear of the unknown, but Dave was able to do that.” Penn may give most of the credit for the bit’s success and popularity to Letterman, but it was the ingenuity, practice, and dedication he and Teller are known for that led them to the Letterman stage and propelled their careers to the status they have today. They continue to maintain that unique and dynamic business relationship that catapulted them into suc- cess. Today, Penn & Teller claim the title as the longest-run- ning show in Las Vegas history and continue to make us all believe in a little magic. Robin Robins recently sat down with Penn to discuss the value of dedication, his everlasting partnership with Teller, and the ingenuity of his “brand” in front of an audience of exclusive members of her Tennessee-based marketing company, Technology Marketing Toolkit. With Penn’s tools for
success, any MSP leader or business owner can tap into their own powerful potential. All it takes is a little commitment and honesty (no magic required!). The Value Of A Thousand Before he was selling out shows in Las Vegas and creating a worldwide following, Penn claims that the first person he ever met in show business was himself. He grew up in small-town Massachusetts, far-flung from the stage and tricks by sleight of hand. The thought of performing was, as Penn explains, “an impossibility.” But as a teenager, Penn saw a performance by illusionist James Randi, who proclaims his tricks are merely that: just illusions, not magic. Penn became obsessed with creating illusions and enter- taining an audience with misdirection. He committed himself to mastering the craft through consistent practice, education, and adjustment. In the late 1970s, he was introduced to TellerPage 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28
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