Having operated large scale email marketing campaigns promoting our managed services company, it didn’t take long to find common threads between prospects that showed high levels of interest immediately upon contact. A large percentage of the prospects that were willing to engage, did so because their current contract was up for renewal and our email was a convenient reminder that they needed to address it.
As we started to identify these patterns, we were able to shift our messaging to better address this scenario, swapping in subject lines such as: “is your IT contract expiring soon?” and removing most of the generic language not focused to this very concept. While this didn’t necessarily increase the amount of appointments we generated, it did alter the type of conversations we would have. Now most of the prospects we were speaking to had a clear deadline for when they needed to make a decision and they were practically begging us to convince them to change providers (although they rarely did).
At the time that these campaigns were being sent out, it was very difficult to get a business to break up with their current MSP. While many would be willing to have the conversation, getting them to make the jump was an entirely different challenge. In my opinion, this is largely what has changed that now makes this a completely viable plan of attack. Every business is re-evaluating their expenses due to the pandemic which means no MSP is considered “safe” right now from competition.
Here are a few things that we have learned from our campaigns that can be applied today to increase your chances of capitalizing on such opportunities:
Focus Efforts Near The End of Each Fiscal Quarter
If there is one thing that I have noticed, a large percentage of contracts tend to begin on the first month of each quarter (January, April, July, & October). This means that the month leading up to each of these milestones will be when most business decision makers will start to evaluate their options. I would recommend planning to start campaigns 5 weeks prior to the first day of each quarter and increase your efforts and/or spending each week therein.
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Leverage Cost-Focused Content & Messaging
Since you will be targeting decision makers that are evaluating their costs in a specific financial quarter, echo this exact scenario in your messaging so that it becomes hyper-relevant. If you think about it, at minimum you have a 25% chance of this being correct. While this may not relate to the majority of your audience, you will find increased engagement from those that do. Also consider using industry specific messaging to drive even more contextual relevance and reference how that industry may have been impacted by the pandemic (thus why they are re-evaluating their contracts). This will show that you are informed and will be sensitive to their situation.
Target Financial Decision Makers (CFOs/ Controllers)
While competing on price is not a fun game to play, it is certainly better than not getting in the game at all. Companies will be evaluating expenses with or without your bid included, so it is important to know this going in. Given the current situation, I speculate that the key players evaluating such contracts will be those in the financial arm of the business. They know the expenses better than anyone and while they may not be the ultimate decision maker, the goal should be to get them to champion your inclusion in the process.
Understand How SMBs Evaluate Costs
Not every business looks at costs the same way, especially those that occur at varying times throughout the year. For example, some companies want to front-load expenses toward the beginning and end of the year, whereas they exercise far more caution in the middle months. Be aware of this throughout your campaign and try to understand how to re-position your costs to best align with how they are looking to spend. As long as your profit margin is protected and cash flow is healthy, this flexibility should have very little impact on the long term look of the contract.
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Position Your Quote As A Value-Add
When you are looking to provide a quote, do so more as an “offer” than an “ask.” For example, you could say ” Would you like me to send you a quote so that you can better negotiate your current IT Contract?” This now appears to be benefiting them more than it benefits you and will increase your likelihood of making it to negotiations. It also shows confidence that you know that your quote will be more enticing than their existing provider’s, which will spark their curiosity and leave them eager to learn more.
Include A Comparison With Your Quote
The last piece of the puzzle when taking this approach is to show your target everything that you offer that your competitors do not. This is what is often referred to as a “battle card” when used internally, but can be also be created as collateral to present to prospects. When comparing your services, focus on the details of your service that only you could provide. For example, if all you are comparing are prices, then your competitor can easily match these should they want to win the deal. Imagine this prospect was looking at two quotes (yours and your competitors) and they are the exact same price. Use this comparison as a way to demonstrate why they should pick you in this scenario.