I’ve never met a CEO in managed network services that wasn’t constantly trying to grow the company’s revenue. (That excludes solo consultants who’ve consciously decided to maintain a lifestyle business rather than a growth engine).
In this post, we’ll look at how to build your funnel, thrive as a trusted advisor, and cover all the bases needed for success with scalable, predictable revenue growth.
“In God we trust; all others must bring data.” -- W. Edwards Deming, American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant (1900-1993)
Creating a More Data-Focused Marketing and Sales Funnel for Managed Network Services
To build a more scalable, predictable revenue growth plan, we must understand that just one tactic alone is insufficient.
Because there is so much competition for the attention span of the ideal clients you want to attract, it’s critical that what you say resonates with them.
But it’s not enough to think that you need to attract them. We need a way to begin a relationship with people over the length of the sales cycle.
If you don’t know the length of your sales cycle in terms of weeks, months, or in some cases more than months, it’s really critical that you get a handle on that.
You need to measure the length of time from the first moment someone comes into contact with your business until that person becomes a paying client.
Why Closing Sales Fast Sometimes Leads to Bad Deals
There are a couple of different dynamics that are going on here:
- Profitability Problems -- If you don’t get found early enough, you may find that your sales cycle is very short. That may not necessarily be the best thing if you analyze the margin, the profitability, of that client.
- No Trusted Advisor Status -- Because if you’re not getting found early enough, you may not have the opportunity to be perceived as a trusted business advisor, to educate that prospective client on what matters most. And you may be forced, backed into the corner, so to speak, into being just a commodity broker – which many companies in managed network services struggle with.
So to really nail scalable, predictable revenue growth in today’s buyer’s journey for managed network services and IT consulting, you need to excel at
- Attracting strangers and turning them into visitors
- Converting visitors into leads
- Closing leads to clients
- Delighting clients into promoters, so they can repeat the cycle and bring you more strangers
If you spend all of your time attracting strangers and visitors, it’s kind of like a very understaffed baseball team.
Lopsided Baseball Game
Think about either your favorite Major League Baseball team. Or if you’re not a fan, think about a friend, family member, or co-worker with a favorite Major League Baseball team.
Let’s say your friend is a big New York Yankees fan. And the Yankees are going up to Fenway Park to play the Boston Red Sox.
The Red Sox have all 25 players on their active roster ready to go. Pregame, they’re stretching on the field, some players in the dugout, and some pitchers in the bullpen. So again, the Red Sox have all 25 players ready to go.
But for some reason, the Yankees only brought along a pitcher and a catcher. How are the Yankees going to do on the field that night? Probably not very well when the other team has all 9 players ready to go immediately, and they have another 16 players between the dugout and the bullpen.
It’s the same thing with your marketing and sales.
If all you’re focused on is attracting traffic or doing a little pay-per-click advertising (PPC) and you’re not thinking about converting the right strangers and visitors into leads if you’re not thinking about the context of where those leads are and how to accelerate those leads into sales opportunities and clients.
If you’re not thinking about what it takes to delight those clients so that they become promoters, that’s a huge problem too.
We live in the age of Yelp, Amazon.com, and Google reviews. And there are positive promoters and evangelists. And there are negative promoters and evangelists. And those negative promoters and negative evangelists can do a lot of damage.
So it’s important to ensure you delight your clients so they become promoters.
People Buy From Those That They Trust
Remember, people buy from those that they trust. This is extremely important. This is everything.
When discussing trusted advisors, we need to bold, highlight, and double-underline the word trust in the context of managed network services.
It’s all about building up trust. And in order for you to get your potential clients to see you as a trusted advisor, you first need to earn that.
And one of the best ways to earn that is by being a helpful, educational resource.
It’s not about putting salesy, promotional, self-serving stuff in front of them --- and advertising, “Hey! Buy our managed network services. Only $999. 20% off this month. Act now. Supplies are limited.”
Now this isn’t the Crazy Eddie game or trying to position your company as an e-commerce or SaaS company.
If you’re truly going after the ideal clients that you want, you need to be realistic about what it is that they’re actually looking for before they even know that your company exists – when they’re first starting to research their problems.
The Moment of Truth
So the moment of truth here with all of this is to look at your website. In particular, look at your homepage. And do some serious soul-searching.
Ask yourself, “Does your website content talk more about your company? Or the problems that you solve for your clients?”
All too often, managed service providers and IT consulting firms put up the partner programs they’re involved with, the services they deliver, all these wonderful awards, and all the technologies they play with.
The reality is that most homepages and website navigation are not focused on the problems they solve for clients. These websites are just focused on talking about their own companies. Big mistake!
It’s kind of like going out on a first date with somebody. And in the first – and only -- hour, your mouth moves for 58 to 59 minutes. And you don’t let your date get a word in edge-wise.
And that’s exactly what’s happening if your website doesn’t talk about the problems your ideal clients face.
Remember: During the first 70% -- or more -- of the buyer’s journey, even your best prospects won’t give a you-know-what about you and your services until you’ve established trusted advisor status. This is important to remember to compete in today’s buyer’s journey.
Wrong Jargon Attracts Competitors, Not Prospects
Also worth noting: Potential clients are not searching for managed network service providers based on your awards.
Most of your ideal clients also aren’t typing “IT consulting” or “managed services” into a search engine box. It’s extremely important to understand what it is that they actually are typing into a search engine box if you want to be able to attract them.
And there’s a good chance that a significant percentage of those searching for those terms are companies that compete head-to-head with you.
So are you building your website to entertain and educate your competition?
Or are you building your website to earn the trust of potential clients?
This is a huge, huge issue that we see repeatedly with MSPs and IT consulting firms that don’t get how this all works.
What have you found to be most important when trying to scale revenue growth for managed services? Share your take in the Comments below.