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Sweetening MSP Marketing Helps the Medicine Go Down

IT support San FranciscoPutting the FUN in Fundamental

MSP marketing is fundamentally useful, fundamentally necessary, and fundamentally boring. A Managed Service Provider gives clients necessary utility, but beyond the functionality of that utility, there is little excitement involved in the proposition. Certainly selling paper is necessary in today’s world, and there are many companies that provide options. But paper is the very definition of bland, and it can’t be jazzed up — yet look at the television show The Office.

In the office, the antics of those selling the paper provide endless hours of entertainment. Certainly, that’s the point of the show; but the point of mentioning it here is that what a business does, and what it’s like to work for that business, need not necessarily be the same thing. Sure, many in today’s market may look at the necessary utility of an MSP as a boring reality like any other utility; water, gas, electric — etcetera. But on the back end, you can add a spoonful of sugar.

Swallowing Tasteless Medicine

As Mary Poppins said, a spoonful of sugar really does make the medicine go down. So you’re managing an MSP marketing sales floor whose responsibility is to obtain leads. This involves a variety of techniques; one of the most common among them is outbound calling. Often called “cold” calling, this is where a representative is given a sales pitch and a list of phone numbers. They’ve got to continuously contact as many possible leads as they can throughout the day and try to make a sale.

If this activity is left on its own, with only commission as a support, then sales numbers will stagnate and likely decrease over time. The attitude of the seller making cold calls cannot remain buoyant when there’s no medium in which it can float. Provide that medium; that spoonful of sugar to make the salesmanship medicine go down. Incentivizing sales helps boost morale and increase conversions. Incentivizing a sales team is a known way of increasing their effectiveness. Proper marketing should take this into account and help employees be on a kind of natural “high” throughout the workday. Popular incentive options include:

Picking from a prize bucket when a conversion is made
Keeping score and making conversions competitive between salespeople
Allowing special privileges for goals met (additional breaks, extended lunch, etc.)
Offering raffle ticket opportunities for successful sellers
Having a floor-wide bell ring whenever a conversion is made
Maximizing personnel usage by shifting poor sellers to positions of encouragement (floor cheer-leaders)
Recognizing excellence
Additional bonuses for better sellers (this can be done through creative commission budgeting)

Use your imagination. Have a meeting where managerial personnel sit down and figure out ways of slathering the medicine of salesmanship with the sugar of incentives.

Quantify Your Incentive Approaches

MSP marketing often requires sellers who aren’t necessarily the type of individuals regularly interested in social interaction. But oftentimes these individuals are interested in the numbers behind performance. So be open about your incentivizing approaches, and keep numbers on which incentives tend to be the most popular; you can also plan incentives before launch to help find the most effective ones.

In the end, you’ve got to keep those options — which actually work — available, and curtail those that are ineffective. Proper planning will facilitate this in most cases, but sometimes incentives must be changed.

Attitude Is Everything

MSP marketing can be drudgery, or it can be fun; it all depends on how it is approached. In Mary Poppins, before the “Spoonful of Sugar” song, and in its beginning, the woman playing Mary tells the children they’re going to play a game which involves cleaning the room. The children don’t commonly associate “cleaning” with anything involving play, but Mary helps teach them that looking toward the positive end of any situation can make the most foul drudgery absolutely pleasant. The idea is finding that silver lining and focusing on it.

While you can’t force the attitude of those working to sell MSP services, you can make the IT marketing floor more interesting and engaging. An eight hour day will take a thousand years to pass if the work is tasteless and uninteresting. If bells are ringing when sales come through, prizes are handed out, wheel-of-fortune-type arrangements are being spun, and bonuses being given out, it’s hard not to be taken in by the festive atmosphere. Even the most critical of salespeople will have to at least join in; especially if there are monetary incentives that extend beyond regular commissions available.

Building Better Numbers By Sweetening The Sales Floor

Find the fun in anything you or your employees do, and capitalize on it. Give flavor to the tasteless medicine of necessary lead generation. Quantify the successful incentive programs you use to facilitate that flavor. Doing this will help alter attitudes and increase MSP marketing success for your business.


Mark McGarvey

Mark McGarvey is president of One Click Solutions Group, a managed services in San Francisco and security provider serving small and mid-sized businesses with 20 to 100 employees in the Bay Area. Mark began his career in msp consulting, before living in San Francisco, in the 90s as a senior support technician for a then-small company in Austin, TX called Dell. After working for a number of organizations in desktop support/management and systems administration, Mark realized a passion for two things: Ensuring computer systems ran smoothly and keeping the people that used these systems happy and productive. This passion helped him get his IT business started in San Francisco!  As a small business owner, Mark empathizes with other business owners that need computer support in San Francisco and understands the things dearest to them: Increasing productivity and efficiency and keeping costs low and ROI high.