Sales is the engine that keeps companies moving forward. Unfortunately for MSPs, that business function often takes a back seat to technology and support due to limited competencies and resource limitations. Early on, relatively few providers employ full-time sales and marketing professionals, with owners and technicians often handling those roles.
MSP firms that manage to make it through that first stage still face a number of hurdles. Do you have a plan for building out your services portfolio, solidifying contracts, and generating new sources of revenue? Developing a successful sales team is a critical step. However, an MSP must first focus on creating a dynamic lead funnel to ensure those new hires' success.
If you build it, they will come. The best way to attract top sales talent is to show your commitment to their success. Even if you task new team members with producing some of their own leads, every MSP should commit to building a deep sales funnel to backstop those efforts and ensure a steady stream of viable prospects. The best way to overcome the peaks and valleys is to create a constant flow of good prospective opportunities to ensure the team remains productive and hungry for the next close.
The key to ongoing sales success is to drive inbound lead velocity. This metric measures the real-time growth of qualified opportunities month over month, a good predictor of future revenue since it is unaffected by seasonal fluctuations or sales team quality.
A robust inbound lead velocity keeps your people productive. With the right investments in marketing and business development activities and a good plan for nurturing each opportunity, MSPs can capitalize and enjoy steady revenue growth. Inbound lead velocity is a bi-product of all those awareness efforts.
That metric provides the management team with the insight needed to predict future sales objectives and lets them sound the alarm if the number of potential opportunities begins to drop. Your MSP’s inbound lead velocity rate is critical not just for planning but for fueling the types of income that allow your business to fund expansion.
These predictive statistics are essential for IT services firms. Relying on what experts consider lagging indicators of sales success, including Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), makes it difficult for MSPs to implement “course corrections” before their income takes a hit. That situation is precisely why you need to monitor and focus more resources on activities that increase inbound lead velocity.
How can MSPs influence their opportunity streams? Here are a few ideas:
· Strengthen Traditional SEO Activities
Google controls the online world. That statement may exaggerate the situation a bit, but the influence of search on business awareness and leads is enormous today, and a solid SEO strategy can provide tremendous benefits to MSPs’ sales efforts. Activities such as investing in keywords and phrases and optimizing images and other content will improve your company’s rankings on Google and other search platforms.
· Deploy Off-Page SEO Strategies
There are a number of things MSPs can do outside of their own websites to improve their online search positions. These “off-page” strategies typically involve collaboration with media and third parties to expand the reach of your company’s name, links, and content. From brand mentions and inclusion in industry forums to authoring articles for community news sites or marketing content, the options for valued IT services experts are plentiful today.
· Effectively leverage social media
Sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are highly valued marketing resources for MSPs. The ability to share articles, promotions, and other content connected directly with your website is huge, especially when visitors need to complete a lead form to access the information. A well-designed and executed social media program will help increase your company’s visibility and drive more long-term sales opportunities.
· Enhance Website Landing Pages
How often do you refresh your company’s website? Even if the updates are recent, adding search-optimizing plugins, keyword-rich text, meta descriptions, title tags, and other search optimizing features can boost your company’s online rankings. This is one of those tech areas where MSPs should consult with an outside developer. Web experts can assess your current pages, suggest ways to optimize SEO rankings, add lead forms to relevant content, and ensure your company site is highly visible to prospective clients.
· Utilize Strategic Content Marketing
The referral-only strategy for growing an MSP limits your opportunities. While recommendations and introductions help create highly valued leads, relying solely on clients to tell your story will impede potential growth. Consistently creating and sharing valuable content to your defined audience increases awareness and opportunities to interact with prospective clients. From a company blog and videos that link back to your website to whitepapers and eBooks that readers download after filling out a lead form,
· Develop Captivating Prospect Offers
Promotions are everyday occurrences in the business community. One of the best ways to get fence-setters to finally make a decision is to offer a valued incentive. Whether providing prospects with a free network assessment or giving them a branded travel mug for filling out a lead, these campaigns can be beneficial when you match the inducements with the right audience.
Building inbound lead velocity requires you to do something. That may include one or more of the activities listed above with your own twist to generate new sales opportunities.
From creative promotions and SEO optimization to content marketing, MSPs have many resources at their disposal for driving leads − and you can even leverage peers and vendors to help fill any gaps. There truly is no secret to success in developing solid sales funnels. The key is to pick something and move forward.