I have hesitated to write this post out of fear of “piling on” to an already crowded media space related to the world’s current public health crisis. The only reason I have given in, is because I know for a fact there are MSPs out there wondering what is appropriate and how to manage their sales & marketing efforts during this time. While most are seeing a surge in customer activity at the moment, the dust will eventually settle and many MSPs who also operate retail or storefront locations will be the first to feel the financial effects.
For those responsible for the growth of their MSP, here are a few tips on what we can do now to help our communities and hopefully benefit later on when business trends back to a normal operating state.
Be A Leader and Organizer Within Your Community
Our communities need leaders. While it is difficult to lead within isolation, video and social media are going to be your primary means of communication. Start creating content that is helpful for the situations that your customers and prospects are going through right now. For example, Microsoft Teams recently announced that they are offering a free 6 month trial to help businesses work remotely during this time. Creating content to let people know about this resource and help them deploy it will be incredible helpful to them.
Be the “technology voice” for your community and help the people around you navigate their issues as they make major changes to the way they operate their businesses. This is not about generating billable hours, but more about helping people in a time of need. Don’t look to “cash-in” on the situation. Instead, look to build karma and awareness to your brand that will help grow your overall funnel, and allow you to harvest opportunity later on.
Don’t Dramatize a Dramatic Situation
People are already fearing for their health and many are worried about their financial future. This is not a time to add additional “fear-based” sales rhetoric that is common when selling cyber security services. Yes, as inexperienced companies start deploying a remote workforce, they will certainly face potential security threats that they otherwise would not. It is our duty as MSPs to educate them about these threats without instilling more fear.
Many of the channel vendors that MSPs work with to secure their users offer free tools and trials. Now is a great time to get your customers into these trials, improving their security without short term costs and long term commitments. If you are going to educate your audience on the threats, be sure to also make the solutions clear and obvious. Now is not an appropriate time to cleverly withhold information in an attempt to increase curiosity. Give the facts, from beginning to end.
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Make Your Availability Well-known
The most important thing you can do right now is continuously make it known that you are available as a resource and explain how you can help businesses during this time. People are turning to friends and family for help as they try to adjust to a different routine. I personally have been asked to provide some kind of technical assistance to multiple family members since last week and I was never an IT Technician.
By making it known to everyone possible that you are available to help, you can ensure that people are going to right place to find the information they need. This includes your friends, family, and neighbors that may also have questions or a need for help. While you probably will not sell your Great-Aunt a Managed Services contract, the more efficient businesses become as they adjust, the less impact this will have on our economy. MSPs are on the front-line of that fight and can have a real impact on the outcome.
Be Flexible To The Needs of Customers and Prospects
There are a lot of Windows 7 laptops coming out of the closet right now, being dusted off and put back into regular use. As an MSP, this is obviously not an ideal situation and is counter-productive to the migration everyone has been advocating for throughout the latter months of 2019. While we should not fold on our best practices, it is important to be flexible at this time and do your best to work with the resources that are available.
Our supply chains and logistics are being pushed to the limit and the ability to source hardware is seeing some delay. This means we need to work with what we have and ensure everyone is operating safely, even if it does not meet our normal standards. The important thing is that these solutions are deemed “temporary” and that upgrades are made immediately when it is appropriate to do so.
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Continue Following Up With Your Pipeline
As MSPs continue to scramble to help their customers with VoIP issues, VPN outages, and deploying communication, tools it will be very easy put sales and marketing on the back burner. The issue with this is that eventually things will go back to normal and if you have not been actively adding to your funnel and working your pipeline, you may be left with little opportunity in the already-difficult summer months.
This is a great chance to build an email automation sequence to follow up with your pipeline over the next several weeks while you are busy helping customers. By putting in a few extra hours now, you can ensure that your leads are well nurtured throughout this entire hiatus. Make the context of your messaging relevant and follow the tips that I have laid out in this article.
Remember that we are all part of the solution here and technology is playing a major role. In the Influenza outbreak of 1918, these technologies that we have did not exist and people had to choose whether to stay home and not work or to carry on with their business and risk their health. Let’s all be fortunate that we have the tools to keep our businesses alive during this time and help everyone in our communities leverage them to stay afloat.