Dave Sobel is the host of the podcast "The Business of Tech" and co-host of the podcast "Killing IT." In addition, he wrote Virtualization: Defined. Sobel is regarded as a leading expert in the delivery of technology services, with broad experience in both technology and business.
This week, Sobel examines MSP marketing and sales and how many in the industry overlook the easy answer for how to succeed in marketing their company. They spend time looking for some new, untrod path when the answer to their issues is rather simple: just do the work. Sobel explains that MSPs just need to create a sales and marketing plan and execute.
Transcript follows below
This video is the complete and total answer to your sales and marketing questions. You like that title? It's called marketing. It's also called clickbait, but that's actually the point.
Let me start small.
This is my favorite coffee mug. Everyone has a favorite, and this one is mine. I think it's exactly the right shape, has a great handle and its slightly larger than most of my coffee mugs, so I can get just a bit more of that sweet, sweet caffeine in my morning. I always look for it when I open the cabinet, and I'm sure you know the kind of favorite I mean.
The graphic is actually from CompTIA ChannelCon. It's a sales and marketing best practices, and it's really quite good.
It includes branding guidance, thoughts on building lists, the value of a newsletter, having a local focus, building targeted leads. There's a graphic on the plan, starting with a 90-day plan, and even specific tactics, such as direct marketing, Google, and even specific guidance on targeting 75 leads a month and 900 to 1,200 per month in recurring revenue.
It's really great overview, with a banner of "Plan-Execute-Build Systems."
This coffee mug is also six years old. Nothing that is on the coffee mug is any less relevant, and it's actually not missing anything either.
You need to develop an MSP marketing plan
Let me make two points.
It's important to talk about sales and marketing, because these are the basic blocking and tackling pieces of business. If you're struggling there, don't be ashamed, and know that everyone has to learn -- and eventually master -- these skills.
That being said, my second point is that this not new ground. If you are talking about sales and marketing, this isn't innovation and it's not new challenging ideas. It's important, sure. It's just not new.
Seriously, this is deeply explored space. "MSP marketing" results in 16 million results on Google. Do you know how many third-party consultants there are in this space?
I'm going to level with you. The answer is already out there. The answer is simple. You have to do the basic work. There's no new magic idea out there. Really.
You can stop looking, because it's not there. Stop searching for the magic bullet, stop bemoaning growing your business, and just go follow all of the established stuff that is out there. Every vendor has a thousand pieces on how to do it; there are books, webinars, conferences, webinars, blog posts, more webinars, consulting groups, webinars, peer groups, some more webinars, classes and certifications and oh-so-many webinars.
Did I mention there are webinars? Because there are so, so, so many webinars. Seriously, vendors, do you really need to do another webinar? If you see someone posting a question of "Oh, what should I do about sales and marketing" you should just post this video, because really, this is the answer.
Go do the work. Seriously. Do not think I'm saying there's no value, because there absolutely is. You need to pick up a system and work it. You just need to do the work. Just … you know … stop talking about it all the time. You are not going to reinvent this.
The reason you're asking is you are uncertain, and I get that. You're trying to learn something you don't know. I also get that. But unlike a technical issue, this isn't something someone will direct you to a single article that will direct you to your answer. You're thinking about that, and it's not that.
And asking your peers has limited value. Look, I love the community, and I think collaborating on things is intensely powerful. But, you know what this community is really bad at?
Sales and marketing.
There is a reason there is a huge ecosystem around technology services providers to help -- because it's needed. Tons of companies doing this kind of work, and there is a version that will fit your needs. Need a boutique? Plenty of those. Need an off-the-shelf system? That's out there too. Everything-as-a-service? Yup.
My recommendation for MSP marketing and sales
If you're struggling with sales and marketing, go hire a professional. This is what you pitch to your customers about IT, right? Outsource, find an expert. Well, take your own advice. Stop trying to do this all yourself and feel around in the dark. There's an expert out there for you.
Marketing is about testing and trying. So, test and try. Find one, commit to a set of deliverables and metrics, and test. Iterate. If you're not getting the results, change the program or change the consultant. Know that it will take you a while.
That's why this is the best sales and marketing plan out there. It's to have a plan, and if you don't have one, get one. A plan, not a single tactic. This isn't about just one flyer, or one ad, or hire this one person, or do this one thing.
That's the only answer, which is to have a plan. I know a lot of vendors also watch my stuff.
How about instead of putting all of your spend on lists and creating piles of content … why don't you just start hiring these companies to do work for your partners? Cut yourself out as the middleman, and just help them grow. There is a direct relationship between their growth and yours, so just let them do that.
We do not need more content here, as a general rule. Really. You're not adding anything more. Figure out how to get the plan in their hands and figure out the parts you can do to make it happen. Support the communities that are there.
Please stop making new plans. They're all the same. You're not going to fix it with your one new marketing idea. My contribution, thus, is this video, saying, "please stop asking for more, try what's out there, start testing and go."
This is why I'm actually not focused here at all. This is pretty well-trod space, and to be honest, I'm not really going to add anything, nor even think I'm close to an expert. Sure, I'm competent and capable here, but I'm not adding distinct value in this space.
Just go execute a plan. Any plan. They're all … fine. You will do what all marketers do, which is figure it out by trying. Now go get busy; and post this video the next time someone asks what the solution is, cause it's just that.
About the author
Dave Sobel is the host of the podcast "The Business of Tech," co-host of the podcast "Killing IT" and authored the book Virtualization: Defined. Sobel is regarded as a leading expert in the delivery of technology services, with broad experience in both technology and business. He owned and operated an IT solution provider and MSP for more than a decade, and has worked for vendors such as Level Platforms, GFI, LOGICnow and SolarWinds, leading community, event, marketing, and product strategies, as well as M&A activities. Sobel has received multiple industry recognitions, including CRN Channel Chief, CRN UK A-List, Channel Futures Circle of Excellence winner, Channel Pro's 20/20 Visionaries and MSPmentor 250.