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The New Way to Market and Sell Managed IT Services to SMEs

Posted 19 August, 2016by Mary McCoy

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Managed IT services providers need to undergo a transformation in regards to how they integrate digital and technological advances into their business operations. As discussed in a May article in MicroScope by Matt Hurley of Juniper, the move toward a digital economy, combined with the need to be “always on,” means anything that can save time and simplify workflows is in high demand. Now, more than ever, seamless delivery is where opportunity lies. For channel partners, this opportunity translates into managed IT services.

At the same time, MSPs need to realise that generating sales is a whole new ballgame. People have changed the way they find information, connect and conduct business. However, many MSPs keep relying solely on legacy sales methods such as outbound marketing. They thus struggle to find new clients within the changing buyer dynamic.

 

Inbound Marketing—The Modern Approach

The first step in adopting modern marketing tactics is to shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing. While outbound marketing seeks to find clients, inbound marketing helps clients find you.

Building appropriate inbound marketing channels—blogging, social media, search engine optimisation/marketing and content circulation—makes it much easier for clients to find you. Outbound marketing still has its place, but inbound marketing is far more successful for one basic reason: You can target markets already looking to buy.

The success of inbound marketing is a prime example of how the typical buying process has changed. Instead of putting up with irritating commercials, those ready to buy proactively look for services they want, usually online. To make sure you’re there when they come knocking, you better use the right marketing strategies!

 

Research, Word of Mouth and Social Media

Inbound marketing is all about online research, word of mouth and social media—which tie into establishing an active and responsive online presence. Examples include maintaining your own regular blog and writing guest blog posts for industry peers. Information on successful blog post types and prompt ideas can be found here. This increases your social following and can keep your existing clients informed. 

Another great strategy for generating leads online is to write white papers and eBooks and make them available for download. If you don’t have the in-house resources to tackle a content project like this, take five related blog posts and repurpose that material into a gated asset. If a potential buyer is interested, they fill out their contact info to download the content and voilà—you’ve added another prospect to reach out to. 

As you build a variety of content resources, identify which ones are most commonly downloaded by different segments of your prospects: low interest, medium interest and high interest. This helps sales follow up appropriately. You also don’t want to bombard prospects with too many emails and calls. Instead, slowly nurture their interest.

 

The Changing Sales Funnel

Due to the changing buyer dynamic, companies must also refine their sales funnels to fit the new marketing models and buying trends. Rather than focusing on how many calls were made per rep, focus on what actions buyers take and how likely those actions lead to sales. 

This allows you to target prospects more effectively and provide information they need to make a decision. Also look at the sales process through the buyer’s eyes. The journey starts with the pain point: The potential buyer has a problem that needs solving and starts looking for a solution. Perhaps they’re tired of slow network speed or don’t have an internal IT department capable of safeguarding their environment. Thanks to your inbound marketing efforts (based on the advice above!), your company comes up as a primary option during their search. By looking through your website, social media pages and other resources, the prospective client has the data right at their fingertips. Your sales team can then make sure it’s you that they choose as their solution provider!

 

Go Beyond the Deal…Build Your Relationships

While closing sales is the endpoint of the old sales funnel, it’s only halfway through the buyer’s journey. Just as critical as nailing the initial sale is maintaining a good client relationship going forward. Rather than concentrating on a single sale, focus on building client loyalty, rewarding retention and establishing long-term satisfaction. This makes it easier to add additional revenue from clients and makes them more likely to refer their colleagues.

The buyer’s journey and inbound marketing neatly summarise the new buyer’s dynamic: one of making intelligent choices based on independent research and informed decision-making rather than shotgun sales tactics. It’s up to MSPs to educate potential buyers about why you’re the best for their needs.

Adapting your marketing and sales strategies to the new buyer’s dynamic is the move you need to make to find new clients and grow your business. If you have not already, be sure to start this transformation ASAP!

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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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