The Art of “Help First:” Why MSPs Need to Meet Prospects Where They Are At

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    As someone who owns an MSP marketing agency, I’ve worked with all types of managed services organizations. I’ve seen a huge number of different philosophies and strategies when it comes to sales. Some of them I agree with.

    Some I don’t.

    But after seeing over 100 MSPs in action, here is one of my big takeaways that I truly believe in: having a “help first” mentality with your sales is always going to drive you in the right direction. To explain, let me illustrate with an example that I see quite a bit.

    Why “Help First” Matters

    I find that MSPs and their prospects often begin the sales process with two very different mindsets. Often times, when an MSP enters the sales process, they have mainly just one thing in mind: “I’m trying to increase monthly recurring revenue, and this prospect may be the way to help me do that. Anything less than a 36-month signed MRR agreement will be a failure.” The issue is that a prospect who is going online and typing in something IT support near me isn’t necessarily thinking “wouldn’t it be great to increase my monthly expenses by $5,000.” 

    Yes, some people will be thinking to themselves, “I’m unhappy with my current IT provider, and I need someone to handle my IT needs for the next several years” – but many more may be thinking “I need help getting this firewall setup.” They’re thinking “I need MFA installed to be able to submit my cyber-liability insurance application.” Many prospects will be thinking short-term – and if you’re only thinking long-term, then it can certainly cause a bit of a logjam in terms of communication.

    At this point, an MSP has two options. First, they can continue the mentality that they won’t take one-off jobs – that they need to lock a client into a contract at thousands of dollars per month. Only then will they help set up these admittedly smaller needs. Or, they can embrace the “help first” mentality – meaning that instead of forcing the prospect to change their way of thinking, the MSP ultimately decides to change theirs.

    Meeting The Prospect On Their Terms – The Long Term

    Now, I want to be clear: I’m not saying that all MSPs should suddenly begin engaging in “break/fix” work. But if you have a meeting with someone and feel like they may be a good fit for you down the line, there’s no reason why you can’t spend a little time now investing in a relationship that could pay dividends for years to come.

    If an ideal prospect comes to you and says that they want you to help setting up a firewall, by all means you should help them do it. Then, later on, when they decide that they do ultimately need what only a managed services provider can offer, the chances are higher that the first name they think to call is yours. 

    There will be situations where it doesn’t even make sense to charge them, as would be true in the case of the cybersecurity insurance application outlined above. You’re the expert – it’ll take a minimal amount of time to walk them through the process and make sure they’re headed in the right direction. Is there a time cost associated with this? Sure – but the amount of goodwill that you’ll buy as a result of this action will far outweigh it.

    Ultimately, this is why the “Help First” mentality helps to increase your MRR. Once a prospect becomes a client for any reason, and once they’re impressed with the quality of work that you’re performing, you’ve forged a relationship with them. Indeed, “Relationships” and “Results” are two key ingredients to any successful MSP.

    A Winning Formula

    If you’re in any way familiar with me, you’ve probably heard me say that ” client retention = relationships + results.” That’s something I learned early on in my career and I still think that it is very much true to this day.

    By offering to help a prospect with some small need, you give them results immediately – which is what you founded your business to do in the first place. You’re reducing their time to value in the relationship and, as a result, should they decide to become a client you’re reducing your time to value, too.

    Secondly, and probably most importantly, you’re gaining leverage in terms of relational equity. 

    Once you help the prospect and meet them where they’re at, you’ve opened the door for them to listen to you. Because you’ve provided them with value, you have the chance to explain why they should take things one step further and invest in the services you have to offer. They’re going to be much more open to the discussion because you’ve solved whatever immediate need they have.

    Again, I want to reiterate that this isn’t a strategy that is appropriate for every prospect. Some people are going to be out there looking for free work and you need a way to identify them. But if you come across someone with A) this type of request, who B) you think could be a good long-term fit for you, rely on the “Help First” model.

    Build Better Relationship, Build A Better Business

    In the end, we all got into this industry for one reason: to help people. We want to leave a positive impression on clients – we want them to have something that they didn’t when the relationship started, be it someone to call for advice or someone who they know they can turn to in their time of need. Some clients will invest in your full array of services right away, and that’s terrific. Others may not be quite ready to take that step – and the “Help First” model and by meeting them where they are instead of forcing them to come to you is a great opportunity to transition them into one of those long-term clients that your organization can depend on.

    Does your business have a pressing need with your sales and marketing strategy for your MSP? Contact myself or one of my colleagues at Tech Pro Marketing so that we can discuss it. Even if you just need some guidance or help on a smaller scale project, that’s okay. I put my money where my mouth is and I just want to say: I’m here to help. 

    Nate Freedman

    Nate Freedman is the CEO of Tech Pro Marketing and Ulistic, the only MSP marketing group with 12+ years of experience helping MSPs generate over 20,000 high quality leads, with over 150 5-star Google Reviews to back it up. Connect with me on LinkedIn.