Referrals for MSPs – Part 13

Rampant Referrals - Part 13

Recap : As a quick recap last time, we concluded the ‘who’ of your communications, in terms of the various different stakeholders that you can be communicating with. We did this by ensuring that you :

– Start With an Offer.
– Change your offer – different types.
– Changing the offer – different times.
– Provida a Regular Newsletter for Clients & Prospects
– Run Regular Events for Different Stakeholders : Clients, Suppliers, Peers, JV Partners etc.

Examples included weekly staff meetings, client workshops and seminars, supplier integration meetings, joint marketing initiatives, training sessions for suppliers, co-funded trade shows etc.

The ‘What’

We already covered the ‘What’ of the things that you offer in a previous episode. However, given the fact that we live in an age of information overload, I wanted to reiterate something. And the thing that I wanted to reiterate is … reiteration. The numbers will possibly have changed since I undertook some research around about the turn of the century. With that said, the well-touted rule of thumb back then was that someone would need to be exposed to a marketing message seven times before they take action. Seven times! And like I said, that was in around 2001 or something like that when I was conducting some research for some clients outside the MSP industry – it’s very possibly even higher than that now, given the rate at which information is being disseminated and the fact we’re all going around with attention spans like goldfish these days. So, to get the point across, it takes seven times to be exposed to a message for someone to take action and on top of that, perhaps only one message in three actually gets through to the recipient, due to information overload. That means we might have to send a message 21 different ways and at different times to be actioned just once.

That said, here’s the thing, as I have said before : repetition is the workhorse of marketing. So even if you’re going to a networking meeting and seeing the same old faces, you should nevertheless still have plenty of ways to get your information across. At the heart of this is the fact that you should remember that you sell benefits and not features.

For anyone that has done any kind of sales-training, this should already have been drummed into you. There’s the classic example of the power-drill where it’s said that people don’t buy a drill, they buy the holes that the drill can make for putting up shelves up whatever and I personally think that analogy has a few holes in it but at least it serves as a reminder that we shouldn’t get too focused on all the features that a product or service has but we should promote the benefits instead.

I’m going to stretch the point a bit here for the sake of illustration but let’s say that you’d never heard of emails before. Let’s say that email was brand-new to business. You could then write sales-copy about how you can communicate with people on the other side of the office or the other side of the world – all at the touch of a button. You can pepper the content with how sending attachments means that people could receive sounds and videos and pictures and text and that it will revolutionise the world. It’s a really, really, really awesome concept and yet somehow, we’ve got to the point that people nowadays focus on the features of emails within certain mail clients such as Microsoft’s solution or Google’s Gmail or whatever and due to our familiarity with it, we’re now discussing email in ever incremental terms.

For example, we might talk about how the emails are encrypted or how they’re backed up which is all very good but it’s hardly as exciting to talk about. It’s less exciting talking about the difference between first class and second-class tickets as it is to talk about how the brand new steam-train called Stephenson’s Rocket won the race to become the byword in train travel in the 1820’s.

All of which is understandable because email isn’t brand new anymore, for example I recall sending my first email from an old VAX system in 1988 to a server in the United States and being blown away with how clever it was yet of course these days I check my phone several times an hour for emails and WhatsApp messages and status updates and whatnot. Another way of looking at this is to say that like talking about first and second class carriages on trains, I have become desentitized to the technology of email and that means that it is easy to overlook the benefits of what we have.

Now, am I suggesting that you go into a networking meeting and start getting all excited about this new thing called ‘email’ …? No, of course not. But what I am suggesting is that you take the products and services that you do have and write out as many benefits of each of them that you can and dramatise each one and that’s because for each benefit, there’s a potential sale to be had.

Let’s reduce this to unity and then work backwards so we can illustrate the point. Let’s say that you sell just one product and that product is Cyber Essentials. Okay so you can tell someone who may be vaguely interested that you sell Cyber Essentials – that’s a rather short conversation but incredibly, that’s all that some business people will ever do and then they’ll get drawn straight into explaining how much it costs and why they’re the best people to provide it.

But even just a few moments thought can give us a few benefits and each benefit can then lead to a host of other benefits, so that ultimately you can theoretically have an infinite list of things you can say that can really dramatise the product or service that you’re selling. For example, arguably, the main benefit of a company getting Cyber insurance is increased corporate security. But what does that mean?

Well, it means :
Risk Mitigation, which could mean reduced insurance premiums. It means increased customer assurance, which means that customers will stay with you for longer and spend more with you and you’ll close more deals with more customers than other businesses that do not have Cyber Essentials. This translates to a kind of competitive advantage.

And from our work on having a stakeholder map, it’s not just prospects and customers who will give you more business if you have Cyber Essentials, but suppliers could give you favourable terms. Investors and banks might well be able to give you access to more finance. The shareholder value can go up from increased reputation management and employees can stay with you for longer because they feel that they’re part of a business that invests in itself, thereby lowering staff churn and recruitment costs and that’s not even mentioning the compliance and regulatory benefits.

Like I say, each one of these benefits can then be the starting point to start discussing secondary and tertiary benefits from the main feature – i.e. enhanced security.

So, whilst I’m labouring the point, it’s important to see here that even for a single product or service, you can have enough benefits to mention at least one per week to your networking group and I’ve yet to meet a managed service provider that only sells one product or service but I’ve also yet to meet a managed service provider that has exhaustively set out all their benefits for each of their products and services to each of their stakeholder groups.

So, let’s just take a look at this from a slightly higher altitude because if you don’t know the matrix of your products and services and benefits and stakeholders then how on earth can the people who are referring you be expected to know?


         Cyber Essentials


Enhanced Security
Risk Mitigation
Customer Assurance
Board Assurance
Easier Access To Finance & Investment
Competitive Advantage
Cost Savings
Business Continuity
Insurance Benefits
Employee Awareness
Reputation Management
Incident Response Preparedness
Supply Chain Security
Employee Productivity & Value

      Active Clients
So, just looking at one example here, you could be talking about the benefit of reduced insurance premiums to one of your business community – perhaps an insurance agent who might well be able to put your name forward to his or her clients as someone that can help them to reduce their premiums.

Or you could talk about employee awareness to a HR company, who is a business-associate in a networking group. Perhaps you could be discussing competitive advantage with a potential investor. Then again, you might be outlining your risk-mitigation with your suppliers, so that you get a better deal over your competitors.

So to conclude then, you have a list of potential stakeholders and so you have the “who” and you have a list of prodicts and services, each with a (hopefully) significant list of benefits and so now you can have a very comprehensive list of the “what” that your provide – to all those stakeholders and so now you should never, ever run out of things that you can talk about or opportunities for people to refer your services.

Of course, that’s all assuming that you’re there are the right place and the right time, because timing – as they say – is everything … and that’s what I’ll be looking to cover next time.


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Mike Knight