When CIOs are interviewed, most testify that the talent problem is what stands in the way of their business realizing its potential. Some question if it is prudent to provide IT employees with the opportunity to select the project and/or manager rather than assigning work directly to them. This approach makes it easier for an MSP company to connect with talented job-seekers who will continue to push tech forward and help businesses make the digital transition that much smoother.
Why Aren’t Businesses Addressing the Talent Shortage?
A survey conducted by Gartner CIO shows that businesses are not as proactive in filling their ranks one most would expect when there is a talent shortage. Nearly one-half of those surveyed identified as digital laggards of sorts that are not making any effort to innovate in the context of talent management. The bottom line is— digital business talent is limited. There are countless ideas as to how to tap into the expertise of these in-demand professionals. Those that implement a proactive stance will find it is that much easier to connect with talented professionals in a reasonable amount of time.
The Talent Crisis by the Numbers
The Gartner survey noted above found two-thirds of CIOs reported they believed there to be a minimal amount of talent. These professionals are worried that the problem is reaching the point of a crisis. These CIOs identified talent as the top barrier to reaching organizational goals. Culture was the third barrier, which makes sense, as it is deeply connected to talent. Do what it takes to bring the top talent aboard, and you will find just about every other aspect of your MSP company gets easier.
A Unique Approach Just Might Conquer the Talent Crisis
Those who adapt will succeed. Take chances, do what it takes to bring talent on board, be bold, and you will attract rainmaker employees sooner rather than later. This is exactly what you need to establish a reputation as a trailblazer, spearhead innovation, and build an MSP company revered for its dynamic capabilities.
Your MSP company isn’t going to retain clients or acquire new ones if you operate rigidly and won’t adapt to client needs. Collaboration is absolutely essential in IT provision; especially as virtually all clients will be unique. They’ll have similarities, but they’ll all have differences.
When collaborating with you helps them do better, you cease to become an optional expense, and become in their minds part of their overhead. That’s right where your MSP wants to be. But this can be sometimes difficult in terms of marketing.
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Your MSP business needs to recognize signs that tell it’s time to expand your business. There are many, but four will be explored here:
- Demands of clients are greater than existing abilities
- You’ve got a solid core group
- Space is getting scarce
- Industry growth
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Employees are fundamental to your push to improve your market share and add to bottom line. You cannot do it all yourself. The question is how to maximize growth, opportunities, and compensation for superstar employees. The key is to create an environment that lets employees put their talents on display and progress as professionals while simultaneously helping the MSP business.
Highlight Areas for Development
Identify a couple talents and/or skills that can be improved upon. Highlight these weaknesses, challenge your employees to turn them into strengths, and your group will prove that much more successful over the long haul. The key is to be as specific as possible so your group has something to work toward. Take it a step further by providing employees with the opportunities necessary to refine their skills and turn those weak points into strong suits.
Set Standards for Accountability
It is in your team’s best interest to have progress reviews performed at regular intervals. These reviews are necessary to keep employees on track. Use these opportunities as informational sessions that clue you into progress and help catalyze employee efficiency all the more. Provide employees with constructive and positive feedback, continued support, and clearly defined expectations.
Set and Stick to a Plan of Action
Your plan of action should propel your team from one benchmark to the next. Continue to chart progress and provide MSP business employees with something to strive toward. Measure results, motivate your team, continue to communicate and you will notice meaningful progress.
In some cases, the best way to help employees grow is to alter your own workplace habits or get more or less involved with those employees. Get out of the way, let the employee in question take on added responsibility and monitor development as appropriate. Keep in mind that if your employees continue to grow, they will eventually have the potential to displace your own job. Continue to evolve right along with your employees, and everyone at your MSP business will win in the end.
Your IT marketing strategy will have some leads that quickly develop into sales and some requiring constant nurturing to convert. Think of it like a child learning to walk before learning to run. Your prospects are born into your company’s service delivery suite upon conversion, and they grow with you over time. With that in mind, following are a few tips to help you effectively nurture leads:
- Avoid pushiness
- Establish more than one means of contact
- Group leads in terms of quality
An IT marketing campaign that is pushy is going to push some clients away. As a matter of fact, it’s likely to push most clients away. You’ve got to avoid being pushy. What makes more sense is being accommodating, appropriately conversational in terms of professionalism and time constraints, and always able to provide answers to questions. When you follow up with prospects, you’re not a salesman–not until they ask or say the right thing.
Establish More Than One Means of Contact
Email, telephone, text message, snail mail, conventions, pop-ins, invitations, luncheons–there are many ways you can establish regular avenues of contact with potential leads. The more ways you have of contacting them, the more effectively you can nurture them without appearing pushy.
Group Leads In Terms Of Quality
Don’t waste your time chasing down leads that aren’t terribly qualitative. The larger your MSP gets, the more able you’ll be to handle smaller clients profitably, given proper saturation during fiscal cycles. But starting out, and even as you reach your “cruising altitude”, you’re going to want to focus on more lucrative clientele. Group leads by how ideal a fit they would be for your company in terms of profitability, culture, and interest. Next, ensure you contact them going down the list at least five times</a>.
An IT marketing campaign which qualifies leads in terms of their appropriateness, has multiple means of contacting prospects, and doesn’t ever come across pushy is going to be more successful in the lead nurturing process. Consider your existing protocols here whether optimization may be necessary.
Your MSP business will act as a thought leader among other MSPs, clients, and internally, if you take a direct approach to facilitating such operation. The following are four tips to help you do this:
- Facilitate confidence
- Get audiences involved
- Honesty is platinum
- Controversy isn’t always bad
When you’re confident, that communicates understanding. Imagine a military commander of a mealy-mouthed character. Will that inspire the troops? With thought-leadership throughout your MSP, you’re in the same position. If you want your staff to follow you, you must be confident enough to be someone who can be followed. Sometimes confidence itself can turn a person unsuited to leadership into a community leader. Learn to be confident.
Get Audiences Involved
When you involve people who you’re addressing, this facilitates interaction; it’s a micro-relationship. When addressing groups, ask questions, get answers, and conduct things in a way that involves people. Do the same in outbound marketing for your MSP business. Encourage comments, discussions, discourse, and that which is appropriately viable professionally.
Honesty is Platinum
You can’t be a thought leader if it develops you’ve been deceptive. You may be able to survive a few infractions, but they’ll pile up on you quickly. Honesty is more valuable than gold in thought leadership— or platinum, really. It was thought leadership that made platinum a known precious metal, after all.
Controversy isn’t Always Bad
If you provoke controversy and are ultimately shown to be in the right, this looks really good. If you are in the wrong, provided you concede graciously, this additionally demonstrates honesty, involvement in the process, and confidence. It’s a win-win either way, so don’t skirt controversy because it can be unpleasant. Dive in and grow muscles in this area of interaction.
An MSP business run by thought leaders will produce thought leaders, collaterally spreading this condition to vendors, peers, and competition. Your MSP will begin to lead the way for other MSPs. Thought leadership is in some ways the “tide that raises all ships”.
If you are not careful, you will fall into the trap so many others have found. Improper managed services marketing has the potential to sabotage your own brand. Here is how you can avoid such a fate, take full advantage of your marketing, and ultimately enjoy opportunities for brand expansion:
Start by Officially Defining Your Brand
Establish what your core brand is, what its values are, and commit to a logo, nickname, slogan and other details that create a consistent voice. When new information, content, or marketing is being considered, it should be checked to ensure it fits the brand’s requirements for consistency.
Your Intellectual Property Must be Protected
Do not let anyone use your logo, brand name, or any other details of your namesake. Only you have the legal right to use this information or its likeness. If you find anyone using your brand, take immediate legal action.
Put Out Those Fires
There will inevitably be some mistakes when building a brand. Customers will be angry, team members will make mistakes, and so on. If your team errs, admit to it and show your customers you really care.
Engagement is the name of the game. Your managed services marketing efforts should create an emotional response, get the target audience thinking, and initiate a meaningful dialogue. Be careful when using your social media accounts to ensure the company has a unified voice across channels. If it seems as though there are different people speaking for the business, the tone and message will eventually conflict.
Nurture Your Brand
It is clear you have the potential to be your brand’s worst nightmare. Proceed carefully, give your brand room to grow, and it will not be long until it makes the intended impact. The managed services marketing decisions you make in these early stages have the potential to set the stage for even bigger gains down the road. Keep your target audience engaged and continue nurturing your brand. You just might have the next multinational corporate success story on your hands.
MSP marketing is in a unique position in terms of modern innovations. Content marketing which uses SEO (search engine optimization) has become increasingly important. However, because of the prevalence of these new techniques, here are some myths which are worth understanding so they don’t mislead you:
- Myth #1: Design of quality content isn’t hard
- Myth #2: More content equals more reach
- Myth #3: Quality writers are cheap and easy
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You’ve got to have meetings, and nobody likes them. But your MSP company is constantly changing, and if you don’t disseminate new information, as well as policy, you’re not going to be operating at your true potential. Still, when companies have meetings, many feel that they lack focus and are essentially pointless. First, don’t have any more pointless meetings. Second, plan out meetings in terms of when you have them and what goes on during them. Following are three tips for effective meetings:
- Have realistic objectives
- Design effective agendas
- Stay focused
Have Realistic Objectives
In terms of employee expectations of your MSP company and the goals of the meeting itself, you need to be realistic. If you ask too much during a weekly Monday scrum, then you may have to keep scrumming that direction for a few weeks until you hit the previous objective. This would indicate you need to re-think your objectives. Additionally, plan out your meeting, know what you need to discuss, and don’t drag things out if you’re done early.
Design Effective Agendas
Effective agendas will incorporate those attending the meeting in a meaningful way which justifies their attendance. It is good to have company-wide meetings, but say you’ve got a janitor on shift, and your meeting concerns engineering of server equipment. Unless he regularly cleans near the tech, that meeting may not concern him; he’ll feel it’s a waste. Likewise, marketing and engineering don’t have a lot of overlap. Figure out what kind of agendas fit attendees and organize meetings around such data.
Focus can be difficult, especially when meetings concern hot-button issues. One way to keep focus is to set a timer for each portion of the agenda, except something needs deep discussion. Figure out the best approach for your business. Free coffee for everyone could be all you need–every MSP is different.
Getting More Accomplished
When your MSP company goes into meetings with clear objectives beforehand, follows a taut agenda, and retains focus, you’re likely to see greater success from them.
Knowing What Clients Want
Your MSP sales strategy will likely be more successful provided you design it around what your customers are looking for. The following are several strategies to help you do this:
- Facilitate trust
- Seek out executives
- Diversify client contacts, coach sellers
- Seek balance between metrics and relationships
Your MSP sales strategy needs to build trust with clients. One of the best ways to do this is through selling that isn’t as much interested in increasing client purchases, as it is in providing real value. When you are providing value, clients are more likely to trust that you’ve got their best interests in mind. If you start from a perspective where such interests are central, this will occur naturally.
Seek Out Executives
Those in executive positions among clients are more likely to have buying power. Additionally, they’re more apt to have information pertaining to overall company goals. This can help you tier packages and reach clients on a level which represents all-encompassing value for all involved.
Diversify Client Contacts, Coach Sellers
You want more than just executives available when you contact clients. Firstly, executives may not always be able to have a conversation with you due to the business duties which define regular operations. Secondly, they may not be the only ones with buying powers. Coaching those who interact with clients is a good way to help them refine relationships as well as diversify them.
Seek Balance Between Metrics and Relationships
Positive relationships are excellent indicators of positive future metrics. So, if you’re able to build relationships in one month, even though numbers aren’t ideal, this could indicate future selling which overcomes metrics later on. But if you push your numbers too hard, you could scare away or alienate clients, ultimately (and negatively) impacting metrics. Balance is necessary for closest positive alignment.
MSP sales strategies which balance metrics with client relationships, diversifies contacts, seeks out executives, and facilitates trust are likely to be naturally optimized toward customer need alignment. Optimizing this direction is advisable for increased sales conversions.