The way in which IT decision-makers research and make purchase decisions has changed drastically over the past decade. Has your managed services marketing evolved to keep pace with these once-in-a-generation changes?
Today, because of the disruption coming from search engines, social media, cloud, and mobile, 80% or more of the decision-making process for your ideal prospects may be over before they’re ready to speak with someone from your sales team.
This presents a huge challenge for managed service providers still using the same marketing and sales playbook from 10 years ago. But it also provides big opportunities for those that can get their companies found early enough to enter the conversation as a trusted advisor rather than just a beauty contest contestant – competing for who’s desperate enough to work the cheapest.
earn how to get your company’s managed services onto the radar screen of your ideal prospects while you still have time to educate and influence how your prospects navigate the buyer’s journey.
How MSPs Get Found Early Enough, in the Right Context, to Matter
One of the big frustrations we hear from MSPs, IT consultants, VARs, and channel partners is the idea that they’re not getting in early enough. And by the time prospective clients come to them, these prospects have already largely made up their minds– and it’s a bad situation. They’ve gotten boxed into the corner and feel like they must compete on price.
Does this sound familiar?
“Every single deal comes down to price. I never get in early enough to explain our real value. This totally freaking sucks!”
It’s no fun when prospects are turning you into a commodity broker.
So why is this happening? And more importantly, what can you do about it to prevent it from happening in the first place?
The Buyer’s Journey from 10 Years Ago and Its Managed Services Marketing
In order to get a grasp on why this is happening and what productively you can do about it, it’s important to understand the buyer’s journey.
The buyer’s journey is the active process that someone goes through in between when they learn about you and your company, when they look at all the different options that are available to them, and when they ultimately make the decision to work with you as their MSP, IT consulting firm, VAR, or IT solution provider.
The buyer’s journey for a managed service provider is very different today than it was as little as five or ten years ago.
Way back in 2005, thinking about the time span in the context of dog years or cat years vs. human years, a long, long time ago, we’re talking about pre-iPhone days and pre-iPad days. Back when Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Small Business Server were still in vogue.
The Managed Services Playbook of Yesteryear
Back in this time and space, managed services marketing was using a lot of
- Trade shows
- Print ads in magazines, newspapers, and trade publications
- Postal direct mail
- Renting lists of potential prospects and emailing those prospects, even though those prospects never asked for that email (We know that today as the four-letter word: spam)
MSP Sales Teams Controlled the Entire Buyer’s Journey
What did your sales team do, at this stage, 10 years ago to generate demand? A lot of cold calls.
And this kind of worked at the time because prospects were ready to speak with your sales team at 10% or 20% of the way into the decision-making process.
They were only 10% or 20% of the way along the buyer’s journey and were ready for a conversation.
At this point, sales kind of controlled everything.
Buyers were at the mercy of your sales team.
Sales controlled access to information. There was tremendous asymmetry as to who held the cards at the time.
Marketing could be totally unaccountable, and it didn’t matter in most cases. Marketing was perceived as doing lots of arts and crafts projects, branding, colors, fonts, trade show booths, and swag.
It was a very seller-centric sales cycle.
There have been some massive, massive changes that have come about in the past 10 years. Pay-per-click advertising forced a lot more accountability. Craigslist completely changed the newspaper industry.
How has your marketing evolved to keep pace with changes in buyer behavior? What do you do today to generate and nurture leads that you couldn’t have imagined doing 10 years ago? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments box below.