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How to answer sales objections when selling MSP solutions using risk assessments [free assessment template]

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It’s Easy to Leave A Channels Event, Distributor Conference, or Mastermind Group feeling good about your MSP business. After all, your business is producing a profit.

You’ve been in business for 20 years or more. And you’ve managed to weather several economic downturns over the past couple of decades.

Don’t get too comfortable…

The high-tech business is a fickle thing…there are economic downturns (recessions, depressions, or whatever you want to call them…) and then there’s commoditization. The latter is your greater enemy.

Like medical and grocery sales, people need their computer. The high-tech business (servers, storage, data center, etc.) has been a high growth industry since I entered the business world out of college. It just has…perhaps it always will…tech is the lifeblood of most businesses today.  We can’t work without it.

However, It commoditizes.

Building Sustainability Into Your Business

This week I’m attending a marketing conference in Cleveland OH. Over 1200 small business owners packed into an auditorium listening to some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds in world.

This morning’s session focused on sustainability.

As the speaker unfolded over an hour’s worth of strategies, the MSP business  came to mind…a business that relies on long term customer retention.

MSP sales are not transactional. In fact, if your clients only stayed a month or two, your cost of sales would eat your business alive. You really need them to stay.

Historically, retention in the MSP business is 5 years (average). Yours might be more or less, but you should know your number. The goal is to increase it. If you could add just one year to your average (assume you have 100 clients signed on), that’s 1200 months of MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) added to your business in that one single act. Or think of it as signing a 1200 year contract with your next client!

5 Things You Should Be Doing To Create Sustainable MSP Business…

Build Evergreen Assets.  If you’re taking care of your customer, you’re probably meeting quarterly to review their IT. Hopefully you’re also giving them guidance. During the initial sale you also had to review their business and create some sort of proposal.

However, building everything from scratch is destined to fail. The cost of customization is high, and the likelihood of messing up is high too…Better to productize your offerings…here’s how.

First, you should be selling packaged offerings. There’s your core MSP offering, and then there are add-ons (like riders on an insurance policy).  However, when you buy a car, those extras are often bundled into packages. The electronics package with the stereo upgrades. By doing this the dealer eliminates the headache of creating a completing customized quote.

In this case you need at least one (but probably more) security package…one that can be added to their existing MSP agreement (if someone else holds that contract), or attached to yours (now or later).

There’s also a maturity model…if you were to create a maturity roadmap for security, when your new customer joined your program, you would figure out where they are right now, and begin taking them through your 24 step program…certain mail pieces, meetings, assessments, and sales efforts would be made along the way – all predetermined.

Building Identity. Customer loyalty is also a key to sustainability. Not everyone will be loyal, but the hotel and airline industries, as well as Amazon and Starbucks, have all proven that people will join the club if you sell it the right way.

It turns out identity (the people group, brand, or team I identify with) will drive my behavior faster than just about anything else. I’m a lifetime platinum member of Marriott…when it’s time for coffee, I’m waiting in line at Starbucks in the airport, even though there’s a coffee shop right across the hall with no wait. Why?

I’m part of the club. I identify myself as a Starbucks customer, I stay at Marriott unless there just isn’t one…and I’m not the only one.  If you’re sitting there telling yourself you don’t do that, remember, you’re not you’re own customer…you want to sell to people who will sign on with a brand and stay.

Sell to The Right People. There is a people group out there worth your time…but there are also people not worth selling to.

Your job is to identify the people group you work well with, and go after them. I was talking to a very successful entrepreneur this week – he told me he sells to men, age 45 – 60, ambitious, hard working, leaners, who are already in business. He also noted it’s best if they are married, politically conservative, etc. You might think he’s too narrow. Yet he’s made millions (plural) of dollars in personal income annually over the past decade.

Signing the wrong people onto a business that demands retention is a recipe for failure.

When identifying your perfect customer (the customer avatar) you’ll want to know how they think…the more you know what’s on their mind, the better.

Today’s speaker said it like this…”Know what they are thinking about every day as they leave the office…know what they talk about around the dinner table each evening…and if they wake up at night worrying about stuff, you should know it.”

In the End They Need Hope. Dave Ramsey does one of the best jobs of selling hope.  He tells his team, when you pack up a book or CD to ship out, it’s not a book, it’s a package of hope.

With MSP; remember, most small businesses are frustrated with computers. They don’t understand them, they don’t really trust them, and when it comes to security, they’ll do just about anything to avoid thinking about it.  Security issues just create more stress…

Want To Build The Sustainable MSP Business?

Stop trying to copy the models presented by MSP cloud offerings around you. They don’t know how to sell to the SMB market. They know how to sell to you…I’m talking about the SolarWinds, Continuums, and nAbles of the world…

Be radical…start thinking about what a small business really needs…what would remove all the IT stress from their world.  And then start providing it to your ideal customer avatar.  Add one year to your average, and then continue to journey. It’s the road to MRR growth…And it’s sustainable.

© 2017, David Stelzl

P.S. Do you have my Security Assessment Report Template…Designed to move prospects into your program quickly?

Need Something New To Send to Prospects?

Create An Amazing Lead Magnet In Under 30 Minutes!

Interviews Make Great Lead Magnets…This simple video received over 500 likes in just 3 days…

Here’s How To Create Your Next Lead Magnet:

  • Start with your target audience… Notice, there are no product sales pitches…
  • With your target people in mind, create a list of questions you think they are asking…make sure the person being interviewed is qualified to answer…
  • Set up a meeting on Zoom, or some other video conference platform that allows recording (Make sure it leaves you with a recording format easily uploaded to YouTube).
  • Upload – Remember, YouTube is not Google, it is the second largest search engine. Google is number one, but both YouTube and Google search stuff out when posted in YouTube!
  • Fill in your meta data – meaning, use tags, #marks, descriptions, and a great title…
  • Consider adding annotations such as contact info or a hotlink…
  • Finally, start sharing it…like I’m doing here. Post it in Facebook, LinkedIn, as a LinkedIn Article…blog post, on a website, etc…get it out there!

That’s all there is to it…if your content is educational, people will view it, and awareness will happen…And interviews are much easier to pull off than a talking head!

Next, consider using lead magnets to point people to your blog posts, or directly to a landing page to download (or watch) something  with more detail. Create this second step as gated content – meaning your viewer must first give you their email address.

If you’ve created something, post your link in the comments! I’d love to see it…

© 2017, David Stelzl

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Your Risk Assessment Is The Fastest Way to Drive New Business, But Only if You Follow This Formula…

On one hand, risk assessments are a great way to start an engagement, or close a sale. On the other hand, they offer great value. Should you give all your value and insight away???

It’s a hard question that demands an answer!

The Point of Assessing Risk Is…

Several weeks ago I wrote an article defining the assessment (if you’ve not read it, I recommend going back to better understand the truth behind assessing risk and growing your business).

The bottom line is, Assessments are like health checkups. If the patient has URGENT issues, yet chooses to NOT take action, the doctor’s efforts are wasted.  Even more, if most of that doctor’s patients never enter treatment (and are dying), he has failed.

(More on the Assessment Sales Process – Pg. 194, The House & The Cloud)

If there are urgent issues, action is required.

And it’s your job to sell the customer on taking action – not for money, but for the livelihood of that customer’s business. With remediation in mind, your risk report is a marketing document. You goal is to sell your customer on doing something!

Amateurs Focus On Front-End Selling

When I hear, “We don’t give away the assessment”, I think to myself, “Amateur Thinking”. Front-end, is a funnelology term – It is the process of capturing a lead and ascending that lead up your value ladder.

The sales process starts with a lead magnet (some freemium offering) to attract qualified prospects (Think: Opt-in). You provide value and your buyer wants more. So they ascend over hurdles of indecision to the point of becoming a buyer.

Some prospects will drop out immediately, grabbing the free stuff and moving on (grab and dash). It’s okay…I’ll explain in a minute. Others will buy your initial offer, or perhaps engage with you in basic managed services (New Customers).

A select few will become hyper-buyers…your best customers. Hyper-buyers buy whatever you recommend because they see your value and trust you to advise them.

The front-end has to be easy (think, free or close to it). You might offer a white paper (which I seriously don’t recommend). Better choices include, special reports, quizzes, assessments, lunch & learns, etc. 

Some front-end options convert quickly. Others, not so much. Signing up for your mailing list or free e-zine doesn’t make much sense these days. No one is choosing to get more spam email.

All great front-ends cost money.  The idea is to spend your money with ROI in mind. The company that can spend more upfront (marketing), and still measure a strong return on the back end, wins.

Did you catch that? You’re not trying to minimize the front-end cost (or your marketing budget). You’re trying to maximize conversion and ascension.  If your backend works, you can spend more upfront, beating your competition.

The assessment may be costly, but done right, it can have an extremely high ROI on the backend.

Qualified Prospects Only

Conversion (like getting people to a lunch & learn) is one thing, converting from free to fee is another. You don’t want to invite people for a free iPad…you’ll end up with a bunch of IT folks that want free gadgets (these are not buyers).

If you want qualified prospects, you won’t give your free assessment to just anyone. And that means you won’t advertise it on your webpage. Freemium means high-value and special, and should be guarded.

To qualify, you want to have a freemium offer, like an assessment, and have a clear avatar of your target prospect.

Let’s say its the SMB business owner with 25 to 250 users. Inviting that person to a lunch & learn is a qualifying step that gives you the opportunity to actually meet face to face. It’s costly, but if your conversion is high, you won’t care.

Then converting them (given the right message in your lunch & learn meeting) is easy…We’re converting over 90% right now with a security message designed to instill urgency. It leads to an assessment – we offer this analysis right there in the meeting. But our description is vague…on purpose. You see, we have one more step; it’s a phone call.

On our initial call we have the opportunity to ask them about their business and their role. If they turn out to be someone other than a qualified buyer, we make the assessment a simple over-the-phone questionnaire. If that person is a business owner, in charge of a possible qualified company, we move forward.

Our assessment engagement involves that decision maker all the way through to the deliverable. If our key contact (asset owner, I call them) drops out at any point in time, we stop the process.

Our conversions to business range from 60% to 80%, and our sales cycles averages a couple weeks to a couple of months. (But not 6 to 9 months). These contracts range from $1000 to $5000/month, with a 5 year expected lifetime value. So how much can I spend on customer acquisition (in this case a lunch & learn and assessment)? Do the math, it’s a big number.

Selling The Free One Isn’t Always Easy

But there’s still one more hurdle. Selling free assessments has it’s challenges. Free sometimes means no value. And getting that initial meeting may also prove to be a challenge.

The 60% to 80% close rate is attractive, so I know I want to sell the risk assessment. I am willing to give it away, because my ascension process works predictably well, and the ROI is there. I can afford it and the return is evident.

However, the assessment can’t be the first step in my sales process (or funnel).

Most of my clients sell assessments by using something upfront to attract clients. eBooks, followed by webinars, with an offer to assess, can work. Live lunch & learns, using a hard copy letter invitation work extremely well. And any excuse to get a meeting (such as referrals, product or quotation requests, etc.) can be turned into an assessment.

In my book, The House & the Cloud, I explain how to transition just about any meeting into an assessment (chapter 13), and then later in the book (Pg. 194 – 200) I explain how to move  through the assessment in a way that engages asset owners, and leads to a sale.

The most important thing in this whole process is to track your conversion metrics. Make sure you are at least breaking even. Once you break even, start tweaking your funnel to modify and grow your ascension process.

As you perfect your conversion metrics you will be creating a long term, predictable profit machine.

©2017, David Stelzl

Get more insights on this process in my book, The House & The Cloud..limited time offer $1.00! / Free Shipping in the US.

 

sales-funnelNobody Understands Opt-In Strategies, Yet Everyone Has One…

If You Missed My Write Up On Lead Magnets and Insane Web Conversion, Go Back to Last Week’s Post…This Is Important…

What’s the #1 PROBLEM I hear on coaching calls?  Not enough new-logo deals…However, that’s not the real problem…

Keep drilling to the root problem and something unexpected pops up….

Not enough sales meetings…(true, but that’s not the root)…

Push further and I find my client’s list is just too small (or just stale and beaten to death).

A Neglected Prospect List Quickly Becomes Cold Leads

Afraid to keep emailing…If you’re not communicating, you might as well have a cold list. But you also need new names…when you start regular communications, expect people to drop off…it’s okay.

Names are like cells on the body – they die or become useless, so get rid of them, and replace them with new names…

Last week I urged you to get a lead magnet that works, front and center, top of the fold, on your website. Something to attract new names every day…Are you doing that???

(And don’t use the FREE assessment trick – read more about what makes a lead magnet work here)…

Once you’ve read the above, DOWNLOAD my eBook – It’s a lead magnet…One designed to attract prospects to your managed services business (using security)…It’s called,

Surviving the Digital Revolution  <<< The eBook That Converts

eBooks Only Go So Far…You Need More

But Having an ebook is NOT Enough – Something Has To Follow…if you need more leads, keep reading…

Yesterday I visited a site with an ebook. I downloaded it…okay, I have the book. Now what?

Is there a nurturing campaign of some kind to follow? Will that website owner work to earn my business?

The Necessary Actions That Follow Great Opt-Ins

Some of my traffic is HOT – It’s made up of people that know what I do, …and they’ll buy just because they believe my products are great.

Then there’s WARM traffic. Perhaps these people have heard my name, or at least understand what I am offering, and it seems to meet their need. They need some education – but at least they’re listening.

The third group is COLD. They seem unaware – not sure what they need or who can help them…They may not even know they have a need (like many small business owners and security).

My lead magnet is written for COLD traffic group. Sure, those I already do business with will likely download my book, but we’re already engaged. In fact, I may just send them the document to get feed back and provide value.

The COLD CONVERSION is what I am after.

So once that eBook get’s downloaded, I need to know it. From there, a campaign kicks off. Below is a standard 2 step-funnel that does just that… (We use ClickFunnels – one of easiest tools out there for making this happen).

funnel

In the above diagram I’ve sketched out an OPT-IN page followed by a DOWNLOAD page…The download page just may be the most underused page out there.

The prospect expects some type of confirmation, and chances are they WILL read it to get their download. So offer something more...in this case I’ve offered a webinar registration. It too is free, and it brings them one step closer to WARM TRAFFIC.

Here’s a secret…invite cold traffic straight to a webinar and they won’t attend…offer them an ebook, which they will take, but then follow with a webinar, telling them how much time this will save them – they won’t have to read the eBook!!! It’s funny, but true.  People want books; however, people don’t like to read.

If they don’t bite (webinar registration), kick off an email campaign…sell them on the webinar (which could be an everwebinar set up to run automatically – something you can do right inside of your Clickfunnels program).

From there, consider adding other touch points. Hard copy sales letters, phone calls, etc. It’s always easier to follow up on an eBook than it is to set a meeting to discuss your company.

Nobody cares about your company until they’ve received value. Give them the eBook

© 2017 David Stelzl

 

canstockphoto26876709You Have a Website, Right?

Does it Do Anything Useful??? 

What I  mean is this…Is your website a billboard online, or does it actually attract prospects? )Take note, I’m about to give you the secret to Internet Marketing with your website…)

Or did you just set up your site to education current customers for free? Probably not.

My guess is you wanted people to visit and buy…but they don’t. Why?

Probably because there’s nothing there to convert them.  (In a minute I’ll give you a free sample you can use on your own site…)

When I visit my Amazon account online, I am probably shopping for something. Even if I search for a product, like “Northface Tent”, amazon comes up. But I always buy stuff on Amazon, so I click and see what they have.

What happens when you Google “IT Services”, or worse, “Computers?” I just tied “Computers”.  976,000,000. That’s bad. Are you in there somewhere?

The Lead Magnet Strategy Works, If You Design It Right

I won’t go into great detail here. Instead, I have a free lead magnet you can download right now. But before using it, it’s important to understand it. And if you understand it, you can create more!

My Free Lead Magnet <<< Download it Here

In fact, I was recently listening to a presentation by a guy who writes ebook marketing materials for a living. He’s written dozens of like-ebooks for a single client. In one case a dentist had 26 ebooks on the dentistry website, published under different types of dental challenges.

So if you were having problems with your teenager’s wisdom teeth, you could go to his site and read his 20 page ebook on “How to Deal With Wisdom Teeth”.  (As you can imagine, he’s advertising for paid traffic, and directing different dental searches to his site).

Of course you’ll be asked to enter your name and email before downloading…If the content is good, it’s certainly worth the exchange. But expect to be marketed to once you’ve finished your download. And rightly so…if you have a toothache, you’re ready to buy!

What Topic Is Your Ideal Prospect Going to Read About Right Now? (Hint: Not Managed Services)

It could be a lot of things. If you call on CPAs for instance, they might want to know about recent trends surrounding Ransomware.

But you’ll need a title to grab their attention first.  A title about Keeping your CPA Business Up and Running During Tax Season might do it!!!! Or however about…

“What Will You Do If Ransomware Hits In The Height of Tax Season?” Hmmm, can you imagine what would happen if your own CPA were hit right before filing your taxes this year? That would be bad – but worse for him than you.

Get Some Insight Before Moving Forward – This Business Building Strategy Works

Download my latest ebook and read through it. Here’s what I want you to notice (Note, I am not saying this is perfect – but it does have what The Experts recommend).

  • A Title That Matters – Digital Revolution is a buzzword that will draw in a certain crowd worried about companies like Amazon (and any big-online business stealing the show).
  • Punched Up Copy…this means I’ve applied the rules of copywriting using by many of the great copywriters (Gary Halbert, Victor Schwab, and John Carlton for instance). Meaning, short punchy sentence structure, cliff hangers, transitions that keep the target audience reading, white space and pictures, power words, and much more.
  • There’s a Strong Call to Action…and it’s written to your customers, calling them to action now?
  • And it’s a Specific Call to Action  – an assessment. And justification is given to act now?
  • It Starts Where They are Now – Meaning the document considers what the customer might be doing right now before launching into an offer or call…, business growth and competitive advantage (customer experience). From there the ebook takes them where you need them to go (security).

So without going line by line, put on your “Target customer hat”. I mean, think for a moment, as though you were your best customer.

Download the book, and read it.

If it draws you in, perhaps your target customer is the one I had in mind when I wrote this manifesto. If not, use the same format and feel, and write your own…but I highly recommend having someone with Copywriting skills take a look before you go to market with it…chances are you won’t catch some of the subtle marketing-science behind what I’ve done here, making it hard to recreate the magnetic affect you desire.

In any case, give it a try…this is far easier than making another 100 phone calls to people who don’t want to talk to you right now…

© 2017, David Stelzl

1-hc-book-ad-3-0aDoes Your Website Generate Meetings?

Is There Something on Your Home Page To Draw Me In?

And once in, will I move to paying status quickly, with a clear path to higher margin services?

I’ve been writing this month about value propositions and attracting new leads. Most of the reseller and MSP sites I visit don’t actually advertise anything. There’s no conversion process in place.

However, some offer a FREE ASSESSMENT or sign-up for their e-newsletter.   Does that work?

In an post (earlier this month) I showed how these types of initial offerings, offer little value. Few qualified buyers want another electronic newsletter, especially prior to building a relationship with you.

At first contact, there are a number of hurdles to clear before you start offering assessments and newsletters. (note: I like hard-copy newsletters once the relationship is established, even if they are not yet buyers).

But, for a moment, let’s pretend they do…(want your newsletter or assessment the moment they hit your homepage – an unlikely scenario).

What Happens When Someone Signs Up?

Pretend for a moment that someone would actually subscribe to your newsletter without knowing you (The other question is, would they actually read it?)…

So they visit your website through an organic search. They are looking for a new MSP provider; their current one just isn’t cutting it. Do you know they’ve been to your website?Is there anything there to capture this potential buyer’s name?

At this point they fill out your newsletter request form (but this probably doesn’t happen in real life). Are you notified now? Do you then make a call? Are they ready to buy your high-ticket item (full blown managed services)?canstockphoto40335869

Maybe. And if your team is on the ball you’ll might land a competitive quote (where price is the primary determining factor. But I’m getting ahead here…).

So last week  I tested this (you know, the newsletter sign up). My company name is SVLC. Someone who doesn’t know me would still see my name as a lead. During my research, I hit several MSP sites and subscribed to their newsletters  just to see what would happen. This is called FUNNEL HACKING.

Funnel hacking in simply looking to see what happens when you click on someone’s lead magnet. You could go pretty deep here. If they actually have some automation in the form such as up-sells and email response, you would try different options to see where they take you…and what emails you receive back.

Nothing…I didn’t get a single call or email. In fact, I didn’t even get an existing copy of their newsletter (email or hardcopy). The funnels were one step – Sign Up. Perhaps their newsletter will come out next month, but I’m not holding my breath.

Any web-surfer was only interested in that moment. A month later they’ve forgotten you.

I have no idea where my name went????? Will I ever get a call?

Great Lead Generation Takes The Prospect Through, Overcoming a Series of Hurdles

When I say hurdles, I don’t mean you’re setting up hurdles. I mean you are clearing the sales hurdles that already exist. Competition, objections, etc.

You don’t need to create more. There are plenty of roadblocks before you ever begin. Enter Nurturing Campaigns.

Cold traffic must be warmed before it can be qualified. I was talking to a guy just yesterday on a coaching call. He’s making tons of calls, having some good conversations (but mostly with IT directors). As I listened, it became obvious that, despite lots of calls, he’s only getting through to a few (that’s the be expected); however, he has very few meetings. Completely predictable.

He also has at least one lead magnet, but no real funnel to speak of. If someone happens to download his white paper (poor choice for a lead magnet in this market), he gets their name and makes a call. Rarely does it lead to a meeting.

Nurture and Ascension – The Key To Warming Traffic and Clearing Hurdles

So what should follow your lead magnet (I recommend this not be your email newsletter sign-up form – see Getting More Leads for some better options)?

I like webinars here. But something has to happen to begin the education process. When someone downloads an ebook, the chances of them actually reading it is low.  Yet they downloaded it, probably to scratch an itch of some kind. They’re trying to do something…

Sometimes a series of short emails that point the reader back to specific sections in the ebook can help. For instance, “I know you’re busy, but be sure to check out the One Big Mistake Every Business Is Making as They Move to The Cloud…it’s on page 4). Another strategy is the webinar…offering them an immediate way to get the information they need, without actually reading.

Here’s the funny thing. People will download your ebook faster than they’ll sign up for your webinar (speaking of cold traffic); however, they’ll sign up for the webinar if you offer it to them right after downloading the book. Strange, isn’t it?

And now that Everwebinar technology exists, there’s no reason to NOT do them. You can be running a webinar twice a week without ever touching it! But DON’T create one just yet.

You need a presentation designed to convert first (Note: The House & the Cloud Presentation is converting nearly 100% of the time when I speak at lunch & learns – you can get it here for just $1.00).

Once you have your high-conversion message in hand, start presenting live (by webinar) until you have perfected your pitch. The day you hit it out of the park is the day you can take your session recording over to your new Everwebinar application.

Amateurs Focus On The Front End

The front end is your low value offer…I see too many MSP providers trying to sell the big ticket item on day one. The other sin is an unwillingness to invest in the lead magnet (i.e. not willing to send hard copy or pay for an eBook that really works.)

So sales people are left to make tons of cold calls (as though it doesn’t cost the company money) to save a few marketing dollars: foolish thinking. The e-newsletter sign up and the free assessment (on your website) are really no better…

The focus should be on backend high-ticket items, with an understanding that lead generation requires investment. The cost per client acquisition is a number you determine by looking at marketing dollars spent in comparison to closed business (over a quarter for instance).

When I sell my book for $1, it costs me at least $10 – probably more when you consider the investments in funnel and webinar software products, shipping, and printing of the book. Too many people set stringent limits on their marketing budget, rather than looking at Marketing ROI.

If it’s costing me $10/book, but the entire marketing funnel is break even, at least I’m getting names for free. This is a whole lot better than buying a list…and the names are arguably better.

And if I know where to get traffic, my list may be growing exponentially over the quarter. Next, it’s time to look at ways to ascend that new prospect up the value ladder.

Stop focusing on every front end dollar. Instead, create a path from low cost/low value, to high profit/high value, with the steps necessary to clear the hurdles along the way (price objections, etc.).

Copyright 2017, David Stelzl