‘The money is in the list’, is a business proverb that managed service providers may or may not have heard. Outside of referrals, following up on leads is a great way to identify prospective customers and ultimately close more business.
The more rock-solid, quality leads they have, the more results they are likely to see from marketing efforts aimed at those leads. But before the lead follow-up, there’s one big, pestering question: Where does everyone actually find new leads?
Before we get into where MSPs should find leads, it’s important to learn where they shouldn't do so.
Don’t buy leads A number of companies make serious cash by selling leads in the form of email addresses and other contact info, but getting leads this way presents a few huge problems.
First, MSPs often find that although they use email marketing software, vendors won’t let them send to the list they have bought.
Second, these lists are typically of little value since the company that sold the list probably also sold it to others, so those email addresses have already received a shoal of advertising messages.
Finally, if someone receives a completely unsolicited email, they won’t want anything to do with it, so what’s the point?
The lesson here? Build your own lead list. Here are a few ways you can do it immediately.
Take advantage of lead sharing Whether it’s the developer of a favourite backup software, hardware supplier, or distributor, most of the bigger vendors will have a partner program, many of which include a lead-sharing program.
Since most of these leads are interested in software, hardware or services available locally, these are people who actually want to talk to an MSP, making them extremely valuable contacts. Be sure to ask all those vendors about lead-sharing programs.
Understand content marketing Content marketing involves providing useful information to people who visit one’s website, social pages, or other digital locations.
The goal is to provide content in the form of ebooks, guides, videos, or online tools that are so useful that prospects will divulge their contact information. From there, you have the opportunity to send them more information via an email newsletter or digest.
As MSPs illustrate their expertise, many will gain trust in them, and when potential customers are ready for services, they’ll know who to contact.
Use reference selling While reference selling doesn’t always secure contact info, it’s a useful tactic for gaining new business.
Your clients have friends, family, vendors, and plenty of other people they come into contact with. Though it may not be possible to get these contacts for use in a traditional marketing list, MSPs can still offer a reward to current clients who refer a new client.
Make sure existing clients know there’s an incentive and make it simple for them to refer others. Most importantly, you need to be someone your clients will recommend without hesitation. If the quality of your services is top-notch, there won’t be a shred of trouble.
Leverage a personal network Marketing often involves sending emails to the hundreds—even thousands—of people in a bulk list. But it’s tough to make emails personal when they go out in bulk.
Sometimes we need to use a personal touch to acquire leads. By staying active on networking sites like LinkedIn, we can create new connections and keep in touch with people we’ve known for years but may not have talked to in a while.
This doesn’t mean trying to pitch services directly, but by keeping in touch and making new connections, to let people in your network know what you provide and, with luck, they’ll think of you when they or someone they know needs a hand with IT.
Attend events IT conferences, chamber of commerce events, meet-ups, and local trade groups can be a great way to network, acquire new contacts, and even toss back a few adult beverages. Best of all, it’s not just a chance to gain new leads, it’s a great way to build new relationships, which are really the foundation of any business.
Check the local chamber’s site and sites like Meetup for events in a specific area and start going—there’s tons of opportunity to be had.
Get to it! When it comes to getting leads, the only big mistake (other than buying lists. Repeat: don’t buy lists!) is to let opportunities pass by.
Business is out there waiting. The next money-making lead gained could be the person sitting in a chair at local event, browsing online for IT business tips, or even hanging out with a existing client.
The best option? Throw a few lines in the water and start reeling them in.
By Marina Brook, Head of Sales APAC, StorageCraft Asia Pacific