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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Actionable Sales & Marketing Insights from INBOUND 2015 that All MSPs Can Implement 

Posted September 15, 2015by Mary McCoy

Last week, several of us were lucky enough to experience INBOUND, HubSpot's annual sales and marketing conference. The event was jam-packed with educational and entertaining sessions for marketers of all experience levels. Many of the approximately 14,000 people in attendance face the same business challenges you do - training and retaining Sales talent, becoming a thought leader in an increasingly saturated competitive landscape, raising website visibility in searches, closing leads into customers, and more. 

With our own event, Navigate 2015, around the corner, a few of us marketers manning the Grow Your Business Genius Bar and running our own content marketing channels have taken the sessions we sat in on and extracted must-know insights that MSPs can apply when driving their own sales and marketing programs. Enjoy!

 

What You Should Look for in Your Salespeople:

Nathan Teplow, Marketing Programs Manager and Host of MSPradio

In best-selling author, Daniel Pink's keynote, I learned that the best salespeople aren't always necessarily extroverts. As MSPs, you need help finding and hiring good sales talent. You may think that means targeting the most outgoing and personable person out there. Many of you may be hesitant to wear the Sales hat because you're not the loudest in a room. Well, it turns out this is a bit stereotypical. You don't have to make the most calls or be aggressive to close a deal. Here's a graph from a study conducted at a major software company, tracking Sales revenue by level of sales rep extroversion. Measured on a scale of 1-7, 1 is a very strong introvert, and 7 is a very strong extrovert. 

While we might expect the graph to be linear, indicating revenue increases as extroversion increases, they found that the peak is right in the middle. Some of the more effective salespeople are actually "ambi-verts," or those who show signs of introversion AND extroversion. You need to have someone who is outgoing, willing to make calls and feels comfortable talking to new people. However, it's equally as important to have someone who shows signs of introversion (like deeper thinking, stronger listening skills and problem-solving). Since most human beings tend to fall in the 3-5 range anyway, it may be a lot easier to find the right sales talent than you originally thought!

Catch Nate's weekly MSPradio podcast here!

 

Why MSPs Often Fail at Marketing:

Joseph Tavano, Senior Copywriter, Custom Content Creation Representative

Let's face it - developing your marketing program hasn't always been smooth sailing. After sitting in Marcus Sheridan's session, How to Get Inbound Marketing Buy-In and Participation from Your Entire Organization, I know your struggle is due to a lack of:

  • Management buy-in
  • Employee buy-in
  • Content
  • Strategy
  • Tools

Sound about right? If there's one thing we stress on our team, it's data-driven marketing. We know we always have to show management and other departments how our work adds value to the organization. As Marcus correctly pointed out, we can't be successful if we can't determine what marketing materials and content the company needs, and we can't gauge what the company needs if we're working in silos. To create content with ROI, marry your marketing efforts with your sales insights. The two departments should speak to one another seamlessly. In fact, Sales is required to participate in content production at many successful companies. How can you encourage your Sales team to contribute to content? Sit down with them, and ask:

  • What are three questions you frequently hear on a Sales call?
  • What are the three biggest pain points you hear from prospects?

This should be enough to get you going, but if you want to take content marketing and sales alignment even further, have your Sales representatives write a blog post about what they've learned when talking to clients or encourage them to recruit a brand champion to interview on camera for a website testimonial.   

Continuum partners attending Navigate 2015: Come visit me at the Grow Your Business Genius Bar to create custom sales and marketing content!


How to Get Your Business Found Online and Keep Visitors Returning:

Mary McCoy, Inbound Marketing Specialist, SEO, Blogging and Social Media Representative 


As an SEO nerd, I'm so glad I attended The Future of Search, led by Will Critchlow, CEO of Distilled. SEO and search engine marketing put simply are just ways to increase the odds your business gets found online. This is crucial for MSPs, because you can't rely on referrals alone to grow your operation. We live in an increasingly digital world. Phone books are out, and we've got to play by Google's rules. What are two session takeaways for IT service providers? 

  1. Think about how to match user intent with your web content.
  2. Make sure your site is mobile friendly. 

First, whereas everything used to be about matching explicit search queries, or words people use to search, with words on a web page, Google is now shifting towards intent-based search. Basically, Google cares more about what prospects mean to find and less about what they actually type. How does the almighty Google determine intent? Implicit search queries, such as geographic location, previous search history, and type of device. If there's one thing you should take away from this, it's that you need to include the city and state where your business is located in your page title and meta description. I explain this further in this blog post about local search optimization for MSPs.  

As for mobile search, the mobile experience is becoming increasingly important as the growth of smartphone and tablet sales continues to skyrocket! First, click here to test whether your website is mobile friendly. Then, consider how your website looks on mobile devices. With Google Chrome, you can do this by following these easy steps:

  1. Open up a web page.
  2. Right click > Inspect element.
  3. Click the blue device icon in the toolbar that pops up.
  4. You should see something like this:

Google-Chrome-Mobile-Optimization

Notice how you can even select device type in the top drop-down.

You may not think so, but ease of website navigation and aesthetic appeal on mobile renderings of your website can turn new visitors into returning visitors, so make sure you think of the user experience when creating web content!


What You Need to Become an Effective (Content) Marketer:

In Outsourcing vs Insourcing: Best Bang for Your Inbound Buck, our own CMO and SVP, Jeanne Hopkins, shared the following top three content marketing challenges:

  1. 69% Lack of time
  2. 55% Producing enough content
  3. 47% Producing the kind of content that engages

Marketing experts share the same obstacles that you do. The number one issue MSPs face in creating a content bank is lack of time. In her presentation, Jeanne talked about scalable ways to create engaging blog content. What makes content engaging and shareable? Here's what good content looks like:

  • Informative and factual
  • Borrows from book formats liberally: headings, block quotes, sections
  • Incorporates brevity
  • Integrates images that resonate with the visitor 
  • Conversational and relates to your audience

To jumpstart your blogging efforts, use the following content idea tools:

Once you know which topics you want to cover, decide how to involve other members of your team, both inside and outside of the company. This will not only save you time from having to do everything yourself, but it will allow you to harness the unique expertise of those you work with. The more people contributing to your content and the more diverse the content, the better! Consider hosting your own podcast or read our step-to-step guide for video marketing and film your CIO or most knowledgeable security personnel explaining common user error cases and how they can weaken company security. Remarkable material comes in all shapes and sizes, so remember to mix it up!

There were so many more golden nuggets of wisdom from Jeanne's session, but for brevity sake, I'll end with the following two points for MSPs looking to grow their content marketing programs:

  1. Remember that success doesn't happen overnight or even after a few months. Measure your success, but don't give up if the leads and traffic don't immediately flood in.
  2. Don't reinvent the wheel each time. Create new content out of existing content. Marketers do this all of the time to keep themselves from going crazy. Shhh let's just keep that between us. ;) 

Continuum partners attending Navigate 2015: Come visit me at the Grow Your Business Genius Bar to learn more about blogging, SEO, and social media!

 

Whether you’re looking to ask some general marketing questions, optimize your website and social media presence, or create custom-branded marketing materials on the spot – the Grow Your Business Genius Bar will have it all! If you're attending Navigate 2015, come stop by or schedule an appointment here!

 

The-Complete-Guide-to-MSP-Marketing-eBook

Meet Mary! Mary McCoy is a Senior Demand Generation Programs Manager at Continuum, where she's worked for over two years. Mary has consulted with hundreds of partners, lending website, blog and social media support. Before that, she graduated from the University of Virginia (Wahoowa!) with a BA in Economics and served as digital marketing intern for Citi Performing Arts Center (Citi Center), spearheading the nonprofit’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign. Like her school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, Mary believes learning never ends. She considers herself a passionate, lifelong student of content creation and inbound marketing.

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