MSP Advice Project: Article - Getting Prospects into the Funnel

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growing pains
Getting Prospects into the Funnel

November 05, 2018

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Question: What is the best way you get prospects into the top of the funnel?

Chris Taylor: I think definitely balancing both, just good sales efforts along with a good marketing campaign of awareness, who you are, what you do, and get the name and the word out. I think that helps back up a lot of that referral business to give it credibility: who we are and what you do, so I think it's hugely important to have both of them.

Brent Morris: You know, I mentioned that we've invested in salespeople and so we have a very direct sales approach where they're responsible for cold calling, door knocking, networking, and asking for referrals.  They work hard at manufacturing those leads for the business. We invest a lot in end user education. We do lunch and learns on a pretty consistent basis, whether that's through Office 365 or the state of security in our industry. We try to educate our prospects as much as possible. I think it's important for us to make that investment and that's part of our sales processes - providing those types of opportunities for our market.

Chris Taylor: It took a while to get that marketing effort up to speed and be able to measure it. Marketing is always a very difficult thing to put dollars and cents around, but I think once you get that, and you understand the concept, I think  it's a huge piece to add to the businesses to put a focus around organized marketing in general. Our team consists of an internal full-time marketing person who has two business development associates underneath her. They focus on strictly  inbound generation of new leads -  that could be industry, it could be a specific marketing campaign. We also work with an external marketing firm that does a lot of the heavy lifting on ad campaigns, and we did some billboard efforts with them. We do stuff that's outside of our box and outside of our wheelhouse. We'll use our external contracted firm to do that type of marketing.

Brent Morris: So I think that my experience in this industry with a lot of our peers is that they invest in marketing through outsourced channels first and foremost with the expectation that that will drive a lot of business. And from my perspective, I think you have to invest in sales first. And I believe we're pretty fortunate to have a great sales team. I feel really lucky with the people that we have, and I believe my responsibility now as a sales leader is to invest in marketing to support their effort. And so, about two years ago, we hired our first marketing director and she's been a huge add to our business. She's been able to develop materials. She's been able to coordinate events in a more effective way and I think that our responsibility of marketing is to provide easier ways for our salespeople to do what they do best. I want them to get to a point where they don't have to invest as much time in finding opportunities. I want marketing to reduce that for them. And so, we're developing that team and investing a lot in marketing and it's a lot of fun to learn.

Fred Alonzi: Well, again, we have strong vertical markets, so we generally advertise through the trade groups and trade magazines. We go to the trade shows for those organizations and vertical markets.  Our best advertising is word of mouth. We look at clients  as a long-term relationship and when you do good work for clients, I think they become great references. As I said earlier, some of my best sales people had been our clients and that's when you know, you're in a good partnership. You, it's a win-win situation.

Question: Do you find that your marketing efforts help you with having technical conversations with non-technical people?

Chris Taylor: I think marketing is good at making our clients aware of things we're doing and things that they should be understanding better. And, I think then a technical meeting with our technical staff helps them understand how it applies to their business in a more technical manner. It's a big joint effort between traditional marketing and the technical resources.

Brent Morris: I think that marketing can help in those conversations, but we really believe in wrapping our arms around opportunities and providing the right resources. Whether that's our CTO or the president of our business or someone in operations to help articulate a message, we believe in communicating face to face. And we do that through a lot of analogies. I think that automotive industry is very similar to ours - so too is healthcare. A lot of the work that we do is similar to that of providing medicine, and overall general well-being and health advice to organizations. So, we use a lot of those types of analogies.

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