In a lot of the conversations I have with MSP business owners, I find pretty immediately that two things are usually true when it comes to the prevailing thoughts on MSP lead generation:
- People understand why MSP lead generation is so important. They can see the long-term benefits as an opportunity to grow and scale their business in particular, and they know why it’s a concept so deserving of their attention.
- At the same time, they just aren’t really sure how to get started with their MSP lead generation efforts… which is typically where many of their problems begin.
At its core, MSP lead generation is a term used to describe exactly what you think it does: the process of bringing in as many qualified leads as possible directly to your managed services provider.
So in a way, MSP lead generation isn’t about casting the widest net possible in terms of your larger marketing efforts. It’s about casting the most precise net that you can – making sure that your marketing efforts are always geared towards:
- those people who are the most likely to become your customers in the first place, and
- those who also line up with whatever your definition of an ideal customer happens to be.
My Personal Story with MSP Lead Generation
As someone who was hired for his IT marketing position in 1997, and has dedicated himself to helping MSPs generate leads since 2017, it’s safe to say that this is a topic I’ve thought a fair amount about.
I’ve worked with MSPs with revenue at or exceeding $25,000,000. I’ve worked with MSPs with revenue totaling only $250,000. In each situation, I’ve found the same few things to be true – MSP lead generation is challenging, and no matter what stage MSP you operate, if you want to achieve success, you need to be dedicated and committed to working hard.
As a $250,000 MSP, the tactics you use to generate leads will certainly be different from a $25,000,000 operation, but the same level of dedication and commitment is required.
As the CEO of Tech Pro Marketing – an agency specifically focused on MSP lead generation – my team and I are constantly working to improve our own lead generation processes for the clients we represent across North America.
The Art of MSP Lead Generation
The right MSP lead generation technique can be a great way to cut through all the noise, getting your message in front of the people who matter as fast as you possibly can. This leads to two unique benefits:
- Not only does this ultimately help improve the return on investment for your marketing efforts, but
- It also unlocks the most important benefit of all: you always have a steady stream of new customers coming straight to your (virtual) door.
MSP Lead Generation: The Two Types of Qualified Leads
Generally speaking, there are two types of qualified leads that your MSP lead generation efforts need to be focused on: marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads.
- A marketing qualified lead, otherwise known as an MQL, is someone who has been identified as a fit prospect. This is a prospective customer that has been thoroughly researched and has been officially deemed “ready” to be marketed to, although has expressed no explicit interest in your company.
- A sales qualified lead, also known as an SQL, is something different. This is a prospect who has already indicated interest in what your business has to offer – either based on your existing marketing efforts or through some other point of contact with your company.
The major difference here between an MQL and an SQL ultimately comes down to their readiness to buy. The former is still likely at the point where they’re slowly building interest in your services. They may or may not understand managed services, and may still need convincing as to how one would fit into their business. The latter, on the other hand, is likely ready to make that jump – now, you just need to make sure they do it with YOU.
Outbound Lead Generation vs Inbound Lead Generation
Many MSP owners that I speak to think of lead generation as synonym for cold calling – but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! If the goal of MSP lead generation is to generate leads, then there are many many ways to accomplish that – most of which fall into one of two categories: outbound lead generation and inbound lead generation.
Outbound MSP lead generation describes those tactics where your MSP reaches out to your prospective customers and makes first contact. Inbound MSP lead generation describes those tactics where your prospective customers make first contact with you.
Preparing Your MSP Lead Generation Plan
Generating MSP lead generation ideas is one thing, but implementing them is another. You need to have a well-optimized process in place to ensure each one of your ideas can generate the desired results. Make sure to keep the following steps in your implementation process.
Determine Your Target Audience
The key thing to understand is that if you want to make sure your MSP lead generation soars, you need to make sure that your message is dialed into the people who you actually want to become your customers in the first place. You can’t hope to get to that point without first knowing as much about these people as you possibly can.
- Service Location: If you’re a managed services provider that focuses on providing co-managed services in a 25-mile geographic area, for example, you’ll want to begin by learning everything you can about CIOs and CTOs within that precise distance of your office.
- Customer Size: Some MSPs may create target audiences based on their size. You can determine the size by revenue, number of employees, and/or number of workstations. Just make sure to stick to the metrics you choose and optimize your marketing efforts accordingly.
- Industry Type: If you’re a niche-specific managed services provider who works exclusively with dentist offices, and you can work with offices all over the country because you can support them remotely, then your target audience begins to take a different shape. Here, you might be targeting dental office administrators or even the dentists themselves if you specialize in helping private practices.
Create an Audience-Centric Message
The next step is to develop an audience-centric message. This ensures that your MSP lead generation campaigns focus on solving the problems your target audience has, instead of simply promoting your brand.
You can create buyer personas to help you refine your marketing message further. Buyer persona can tell you about the various pain points of your target audience, and potential solutions they are looking for. You can find a variety of tools online to help you create buyer personas.
In addition to a buyer persona, you also need to have a unique selling proposition or USP. Your USP will tell your target audience why they should choose you instead of your competitors. Make sure the WHY is consistent throughout your marketing efforts.
Implementing Your Outbound Lead Generation Plan
Once you’ve identified your target audience and developed the messaging that you know is going to resonate with them, you can then move onto implementing your lead generation plan.
The first part that we will discuss is your outbound strategy: building your contact list, and engaging with it find interested leads.
Building Your Contact List
There are a number of different ways that you can build a quality contact list – all of which are worth exploring to some degree:
- Think local. If your MSP lead generation efforts are focused on reaching out to small businesses in your area and you happen to be located in a large office park with 50 other businesses, it makes sense that your list building efforts would begin by researching those business right there at home.
- Explore your online network. At Tech Pro Marketing, a lot of our clients are using LinkedIn as a way to build their lists – just make sure you’re using your personal profile to do so, as a company page doesn’t actually allow you to reach out and initiate conversations with other people.
- Purchase a list. There are many data vendors and internet research firms who can help you build your list. Just one word of caution: make sure you work with a reputable vendor and manual review all lists, as marketing to an outdated or irrelevant list can hurt your reputation along with just being ineffective.
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Outbound Lead Generation Tactics
From there, you should next make sure that your MSP lead generation efforts are stable by deciding on and creating your workflows for getting your message across. Again, there are a lot of different ways to do this. You could:
- Send a mailing
- Try cold calling or cold emailing
- You could even send an aforementioned LinkedIn connection
Most likely, you’re going to want to do a combination of many of these things to make sure you’re connecting with people in exactly the right way, regardless of what that way happens to be.
Outbound Lead Generation is About More Than Just Sales
But critically, you MUST understand that in order to get your outbound MSP lead generation efforts started in the right way, you NEED to look at this as more than just another sales opportunity. Because the fact of the matter is, it isn’t. Not by a long shot.
Outbound MSP lead generation isn’t just about reaching out to someone and asking them for their business. What you need to do is:
- provide value to them that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, and;
- offer yourself as an invaluable resource they can lean on in the future.
Indeed, this is where a lot of people run into trouble in terms of MSP lead generation. At Tech Pro Marketing, we know from our own experience that you can have up to 80 different touch points before you even get a single new customer. A salesperson might make seven attempts before they even get into contact with someone to begin with.
All of that hard work and effort is worth it… provided that you don’t then give up on the opportunity by turning it into yet another generic attempt to sell to someone.
Once you do have someone’s attention, don’t waste it. If you overwhelm someone via one channel – like if you just keep calling them over and over again – the chances are high that you might bother them and at that point, the chances of them actually wanting to do business with you are slim.
But if you send them their newsletter filled with valuable, relevant content that they can learn something from, and if you call them up and ask to take them to coffee, and then meet them at a networking event, suddenly you’re talking about something entirely different. Right there, you have three different touchpoints that not only help establish your presence in an authentic and genuine way, but that also allow you to start positioning yourself as their go-to person on the topic of managed services.
Implementing Your Inbound MSP Lead Generation Plan
While outbound MSP lead generation tactics is all about finding your prospects and making yourself known, inbound MSP lead generation is all about letting your prospects find you.
Putting Your Website Front-and-Center
There is no doubt that your website is going to be the center of any inbound campaign. Whether you are utilizing MSP SEO or paid ads, you want to be the one MSP that shows up on the top of the search results for “IT Support Near Me,” and furthermore you want to have a website that then compels that searcher to fill out your contact form.
To that end, your website must:
- Connect with your target audience and the problems that they are facing – remember that your customers don’t necessarily care about the services you provide, they care about the solution to their problems.
- Explain your services in a precise and easy-to-understand language. Avoid technical jargon.
- Have a clear cut call to action that tells your audience exactly what to do next once they land on your website.
- Immaculate on-site SEO – in any one market throughout North America, you can be sure that you will be competing with dozens of MSPs visibility – pay attention to your on-site SEO and make sure that you give yourself every edge that you can.
Focus on High-Quality Content
Without impactful and relevant content, your campaigns will fail to gain the visibility needed to generate leads. Excellent quality, keyword optimization, and consistency in your content will help you rank in Google for the search terms that are most valuable to you.
Here’s how you can do that:
- Keyword research. don’t just find the keywords that have the most searches, think of the keywords that your customers are actually searching. Do your customers really search for “business continuity” or do they search for “computer help?”
- Focus each piece of content. Whether it is a blog post or a page on your website, make sure that each piece of content has its own goal, and has a maximum of two or three keywords as a focus.
- Publish consistently. If you can consistently publish content on the topics that are most important to small businesses who need IT support, then Google will begin to see you as a topic expert and will rank you better for all keywords related to the topic.
Invest in Paid Advertisements
While most people tend to focus on their organic MSP lead generation tactics, they use paid advertisements as an afterthought. If you want to take advantage of the latest MSP lead generation trends, however, you will need to invest in paid marketing from the beginning.
Unlike organic marketing, paid ads can help you generate leads more quickly. As some MSPs can’t afford to wait for a long-term organic marketing strategy to kick in, paid ads are the right choice for them.
While Google Ads is the most popular paid advertisement channel out there, other search engines like Bing and Yahoo, along with social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn also have paid advertisements of their own. You should invest in suitable ad programs.
MSP Lead Generation is About the Long Game
In the end, MSP lead generation is all about bringing new people to your business. But in a larger sense, it’s also about something more important. It’s a way to grow and scale your business so that, eventually, you don’t actually have to worry about generating leads anymore.
This is why it’s so important to make sure that your MSP lead generation efforts get off on the right foot. Because if they do, eventually they’ll start to build their own momentum. One happy customer becomes two, who then become five, who then become ten.
Rather than shelling out $200,000 per year for a dedicated salesperson who can generate and close their own deals, you can instead learn to do it yourself. You can set up a system and a process that works well because it was built from the top down with your specific managed services provider in mind.
At that point, you can eventually step away from the sales side of your organization and focus on what you always wanted to do in the first place: helping people get the most out of their technology.
That was always your ultimate goal, and MSP lead generation is absolutely a big part of how you do it. If you’d like to talk to someone in a bit more detail about your own MSP lead generation efforts, terrific – we’re here to help. Schedule a strategy call with us at Tech Pro Marketing or connect with me on LinkedIn so that we can get started coming up with new and innovative ways to help empower your MSP lead generation process for the next decade and beyond.