Referrals for MSPs – Part 10

Rampant Referrals

As a quick recap, last time we looked at the product matrix :

– What you do sell
– What you could/should sell
– Outlining where the Gaps are on the Matrix
– Reviewing increasing Sales  – Increasing Value x Volume
– Increase prices of items within the basket
– Increasing the average size of existing items within the basket (Upselling)
– Increase types of items within the basket (Cross Selling)
– Increasing Frequency of Purchase (Breakfix to MRR Model)

So, if you tend to sell more ‘stuff’ each time you see a client, then have your client reviews 6-monthly instead of annually. Or Quarterly. Or whatever the highest frequency is appropriate without too much push-back.

Now, we’ll be looking at a ‘Communications Framework’ to help you communicate your value to your network. Before that though, we need to remember the stakeholders that we want to communicate with. The reason I’m labouring this point is because people usually just think in terms of clients and prospects ( at best). However, if you write this framework out of all the various stakeholders for reference, you can come back to it again and again – and you should – because each one of these stakeholders will have their own opportunities for communication. Here they are :


Please remember that for each of these stakeholders, they all have a network of their own including Friends, Families, social colleagues, business colleagues, previous-amployers, trade-associations etc. If you’ve ever sold multi-level-marketing you’ll know exactly how important and powerful this is!

Obviously, you can start with yourself. Doubtless you’ll have done this when your business was set up. You’ll likely have canvassed your own friends, family, colleagues, peers and associates and indeed anyone you knew that might have business-contacts who might need your services.

Looking at this like layers of an onion and working from the inside outwards, the next layer is any other owners, partners, shareholders, investors, or even creditors of the business( e.g. loans/banks).

Own Employees (internal)
Own Employees’ Network.
Staff (Past/Present/Future) : Alumni/ Existing / Candidates / Apprentices

Staff (External) : Contractors/Consultants/Advisors

(Main Contacts)
Clients’ Other Staff & Key People
Clients’ Suppliers
Clients’ Clients
Clients’ Peers & Network

Prospects’ Staff & Other key people


Suppliers’ (Main Contacts)
Suppliers’ (Other Staff)
Suppliers’ Clients
Suppliers’ Prospects
Suppliers’ Suppliers
Suppliers’ Peers  & Network

Peers (Other MSPs, Other B2B Businesses e.g. telephony)

Competitors (Are there gaps where you can JV – size/location/function/behaviour
-Size : Can you work with competitors where your prospects are too big/small?
-Shape : Can you work with competitors where your customer have unusual requirements?
(e.g. clients may have specific requirements e.g. unusual access : service-lifts, health & safety, e.g. disabled access)
-Location : Can you work with a competitor who is out of area?
-Time : Can you work with a competitor who complements your working hours?
-Function : Can you work with a competitor who offers different products/services to you?
e.g. photocopiers or video surveillance or retail-WiFi etc?
-Behaviour : Can you work with a competitor who works differently to you (e.g. speaks a foreign language or who has certain accreditation e.g. ISO 27001)

Strategic JV Partners – Local e.g. Office Fit-out, Business-Removals, Cyber-Insurance, Recruitment & HR etc

Strategic JV Partners – Vertical e.g. CRM, ERP etc.

Community (Local/Public/Media/Academic/Environmental/Business/Vertical)


Accreditation / CPD / Industry Associations

Professional Connections : Legal / Finance / Insurance / Compliance / Marketing etc

Remember, mny of these groups of stakeholders can have three categories for each, past, present, future. For staff, you can stay in touch with previous employees (keep up with them on LinkedIn and send them helpful content if/when they move jobs. Great for other stakeholders too).

But you can even think about future staff : candidates, apprentices etc (Building Societies and Banks do this – at least they used to during hiring fairs etc).

To reiterate, each type of stakeholder will have their own network of friends, families, social-colleagues, business-colleagues, previous-employers, trade-associations etc.

This gives you as many potential referrals as you’ll ever need – you just need to catch them at the right time and with the right offer. Remember what I said about having tickets to the World Cup – you need to have something that people want! Maybe offering a security audit isn’t as exciting as you think it is, so you need to find things that are – more of that in a moment.

Communicating with your Stakeholders – in Order of Priority :

During onboarding sessions with your own staff, walk through these offerings and highlight how they can address various business needs. Make sure that all your staff, from the tech-support to the admin and finance and other auxiliary functions know what it is that you actually do and ensure they’re kept abreast of sales signals – which we’ll address shortly in the ‘How’. Leave collateral with them, such as any relevant brochures and websites and promotional material for them to read and understand.

This is possibly also a good time to get them invested in thinking about their own network and who else you can add to your CRM as recommended by them, to include in your mailings. It’d be worth making this as an exercise and mapping out a framework for them such as the above. If you create a little PR piece for them about how they’re now part of your team which they can post on their own personal social channels and your own corporate channels, this might entice a few followers or likes and hopefully you’ll get some email addresses for the CRM too. I think that harvesting staff contacts is often overlooked.

Moving forwards, personally, I would ensure that your own staff and consultants and kept abreast of this regularly, either during the regular meetings or certainly during performance-appraisals. If your own team and extended team aren’t 100% fully aware of all the things you sell, then how can you expect your prospects and clients and suppliers and everyone else?  Ask your team to read your corporate communications and provide feedback – ideally providing even just one thing that can be improved and one thing that’s going well – part of your kaizen or continuous improvement.

Your Client’s Onboarding Process

I’d say that the next layer in the onion from onboarding your own staff (over whom you the have most control over) is that of your clients. Whenever you onboard a new client, I’d ensure that part of that process is dedicated to ensuring that your clients know what services you provide and during this ‘honeymoon process’ is also a great time to outline the fact that you get 90% of your business via referrals and introduce them to the concept of leveraging their network. At this point, you may want to discuss remuneration or incentivisation although that is outside the scope of this part of the discussion about referrals.

Suffice it to say that they need to be aware that you’ll be sending lots of regular news and updates about the industry which will help keep them safe, productive and compliant which they can pass along to their colleagues. Obviously, the MKLINK content and regular open-training sessions are for that express purpose! It’s a throwaway line, but literally including the sentence “Do you know anyone who might want our services?” can help on emails, in terms of getting more referrals.

Developing Your ‘Referral Pack’

The trouble with asking people for referrals is that even at the best of times, it can come across as slightly needy and for the person being asked for a referral, it’s a lot to ask for and comes with social risk.

Having a referral pack which you can give to your clients is one way around this. Remember, if you can, try and make people look good and feel good. You can give them something which has a high perceived value and which makes them look good if they pass it along to someone else. So, on one end of the spectrum, you ask people for referrals and may come across as a bit self-serving and awkward. On the other end of the spectrum, if you told people that you’ve got 6 free tickets to the Oscars or the World-Cup and all they have to do to get the tickets is pass them along to any business people that might want them – you’d get more referrals than you could cope with – although it’d bankrupt you in the meantime!

So, the trick then, is to develop a referral pack that has an affordable cost and yet has a high perceived value and maximum impact. Remember : make people look good and feel good.

And more than that, if you give something away, don’t just make it virtual like a discount or trial-subscription or something completely non-tangible. My suggestion is that you blend online and offline or virtual and physical so that people can see it, hold it, use it, carry it, wear it, share it and above all … talk about it!

So, with that in mind, here’s some ideas …

An old favourite : Food! People feel generally good about food. I post books out to people which took forever to research and write and produce … yet some biscuits with our logo on it are inevitably what gets remembered.

Non-perishable items work well, such as high-quality branded fudge, chocolates, sweets, tea coffee and suchlike. It’s repeatable and shareable (especially if it’s served in a branded mug) which brings me on to other promotional merchandise.

Branded High-Quality Notebook and Pen

Including a premium notebook with a professional, sleek design along with a high-quality pen, is a good place to start. These are practical items that business professionals appreciate and use daily and the more often they use them, the more they’ll remember you. Paper and pens might be less exotic than a really fancy golf-ball holder but crucially, they’re things that used every day and get remembered every day.

So, another idea such as a quality desk organiser or a stylish, personalised business card holder can be attractive but crucially, it also makes people think about their business contacts in relation to you.

For more tech-related objects, you could include portable power banks and/or a sleek solar-powered wireless-charging pad to go with it. Getting more niche, for tech-security ideas, you could include :

RFID-blocking wallets or card-holders, webcam covers, hidden safes (with money or business-cards or memory sticks inside them).

Privacy Screens : you could include privacy screens that can be attached to computer monitors or laptops to protect sensitive information from being viewed by unintended observers. This is particularly useful in open office environments or public places.

For a goodie-bag, you could literally have … a bag! I.e. signal-blocking bags (or “Faraday” bags) that protect against RFID, NFC, Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi hacking. These are excellent for securing phones, credit cards, and other electronic devices when traveling.

But the best part is that you could put other things inside them such as the things I’ve already mentioned.

Other items you can include on their own or inside the bag include :

Branded apparel such as a baseball cap or an umbrella (insurance companies often like those as there’s a link with protection).

Personally, I’d include some professional books about IT and security. Or, at the very least, some security-guides that you’ve had professionally printed-out. I’d also include some other item as well, including branded emergency contact cards that list critical numbers and steps to take in the event of different types of security incidents.

Security-themed calendars with daily or monthly security tips and reminders could be a good idea. This keeps security top of mind throughout the year and provides ongoing education in a simple, unobtrusive way.

Cybersecurity Awareness Posters : Again, posters can be displayed in office areas to remind employees of security best practices and procedures. They’re very visual and remind people about you. They could include everything from a basic security checklists to a complete disaster recovery templates which they can fill in and put on the wall.

Lastly, I’d include some training vouchers and in fact there are vouchers you can get printed up on decent voucher-templates (with silver or gold foil) and you can ask us at MKLINK for some voucher codes to put on them. This makes them shareable both online and offline – so that people can email them to each other and include on social media posts for example.

Well, there’s a few ideas for you, next time, we’ll be looking at more communication for your various stakeholders.


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Mike Knight