MSP and VAR coach James Kernan joins Devin for a discussion about winning new accounts.
Winning new accounts is very difficult in today’s competitive landscape. Have you ever wondered where do new accounts come from? Why do customers change vendors in the first place? We will discuss how to be perfectly positioned to win big deals. We will also go into detail about real-world multi-million dollar deals and how we closed them!
Devin: Okay, well, perhaps we’ll get started here. So, thanks everyone for joining really appreciate your time today. And I see a couple of familiar names in the attendee list there, so that’s great. You know, if you’re not familiar with me, my name is Devin Rose and I’m from eBridge Marketing Solutions and The Host Broker. And, this is the third webinar we’ve been doing in our recent series. And I tell you, we are sure, excited today to bring you a great guest. It’s our first guest that we’ve brought to our audience. And we are sure, likely lucky today to have, James Kernan from Kernan Consulting, joining us. And you know, if you’re not familiar with James, he is a renowned thought leader and business coach for MSPs and VARs. And I’ll let him tell you a little bit about himself as we get going in the presentation.
Devin: But just to start briefly, I’ll tell you a little bit about eBridge and The Host Broker, if you’re not familiar. The eBridge Marketing Solutions, we are a boutique marketing agency and we service IT Service Providers like MSPs and ISV and web hosts and data centers and vendors, et cetera. We were established in 2001, so we know the space quite well. I started off with a little bit more of a focus on the web hosting side of things, but have branched out over time and understand IT Service Firms in this space. And we are a full-service marketing agency, so really offer the full gamut of marketing services with an emphasis on digital marketing. But, we do have a full perspective for the entire marketing mix.
Devin: So, and then you might be familiar with The Host Broker, which is head up by my boss, Heartland Ross there, which is a brokerage for IT Service Firms servicing a very similar client demographic. Let’s sound it out of client demand. So, we’re a marketing agency first and then you know, had enough clients asking for brokerage services that we started up the host broker. And if you are interested in exploring and evaluation for your business, please contact us afterwards because we offer one complimentary.
Devin: And with that, I’ll turn it over to James and really excited to hear James, what you have to say today about how to win big accounts, and advice for our audience today.
James: Thanks. Thank you very much, Devin. It’s great to be with everybody today and, and Devin, I’m excited about the partnership as well. And you know, I’ve always said in all my teaching, there’s sales and marketing are two different things and you can’t just do one without the other, because there are two different departments and two different teams typically, and to me, they go hand in hand. So I’m excited. You know, I represent this presentation is really more about the sales side of things, but it compliments well with eBridge and what Devin’s team brings to the table with strong market. So happy to be a strategic partner of yours. So just a little bit about myself, I’ve been in the industry almost 30 years. So, I started when I was two. No, just kidding. I’ve been at this for a long time. It feels weird each time I say that, but, for the first half of my career, Devin, I was just like all the listeners were, I was an MSP business owner, you know, I, very fortunate and blessed early in my career, but I bought sold owner, ran seven different solution provider companies, had a successful exit. And then for the second half of my career, I really became a business coach and a peer group facilitator. And, I help good people like all the listeners here, you know, take their business up to the next level, if that’s what they want to do. So widely recognized early, you know, Inc. magazine, multiple times, a CRN magazine, one of our biggest awards we won in the mid 2000 timeframe. We were the number one fastest growing technology company in the country, according to CRMs fast growth. So that was quite an accomplishment, a lot of magazine covers and so forth. And then when I became a consultant, it was, you know, I’ve been very fortunate as well, but continued to be on some magazine covers and getting good publicity for the work that we’re doing back inside the community. So, I love doing what I’m doing. It’s what, that’s my why is I like helping people and giving back. And that’s the legacy that I want to leave. So, let me kind of jump into the presentation. So, you can tell that I’ve been at this for a while. And early on in my career, it was really easy, you know, selling Dell laptops at 25% margin, you know, all you had to do is hook your wagon to one of these big hardware platforms, you know, Cisco, Dell, HP, or in the olden days Compact, and you, it was easy dollars were flying, you’re making lots of money. And then it kind of seemed like the industry broke into these different areas, right? The Dot Com boom. You know, it was really easy to sell things there, IP Tel and the convergence of IP Tel into the land managed services. And when managed services hit the scene with all the recurring revenue models, that in the enterprise PSA tools, by dropping down into the small MSPs, that was a fun time as well. And then cloud services, you know, for years, we’ve been hearing more about cloud services and that was a great opportunity. And then now kind of the latest and greatest is really cybersecurity. So those were great opportunities if you did it well, it was, you were making a lot of money and it was fun. But what’s interesting this year Devin is, the competitive landscape really is changing and I see people trying to grow and it’s a struggle. And have you ever tried to turn on the faucet and nothing comes out and when you don’t really have a plan, that’s what happens. You know, marketing and sales don’t work together, but the good news is we’re here to the rescue and we’re here to share some ideas and some real-world stories that will help hopefully inspire you and help you with your practice.
James: So, today I want to talk about how to win new accounts. I’m talking about net new accounts, you know, the, the low hanging fruit in any business is your existing customer base. And you need to have marketing campaigns attacking that, but I’m not going to go there. I’m going to talk about really net new accounts today. So, our agenda, I want to talk about the business reality, what the climate looks like today. I’m going to talk about three sources of new business, and I’m going to talk about some illustrations of ways to win in an actual deals, that I was involved with. And then we’ll open things up for some Q and A, we’ve got a little bit of time at the end. Okay.
So, I always like asking when I’m in front of an audience, you know, what are your greatest challenges with finding new business? And typically, these are the five answers I hear, you know, number one, all the good accounts are taken. I can’t find it. You know, to me, that’s kind of a lazy answer, but I hear that a lot. Secondly, I would, I’d have to neglect my good customers to spend time on finding new ones. Again, just kind of an excuse. The third one, all customers care about is price. Well, you know, it depends on who you’re talking to, but I’ve heard that a lot, you know, from salespeople, for sure. And from customers that I work with and, and, and some people are just attracted to price. Fourthly, my company doesn’t have the money to spend on new account development, so money. And then the fifth one is time. So, money and time, I have that highlighted on purpose because number four and five, those are the two most common things that I hear when I’m in front of audiences, talking to people about business development is just time and money, right?
So, let’s go into the business reality. Everybody’s busy, everybody’s busy. You take a look at your calendar, you’re already working eight days a week, 25 hours a day. You look at your calendar, it’s ridiculous. And then all these other things get piled on top of it. Then when you come into the office, when you can physically get to everybody’s ready to strangle themselves, because it’s stressful and sometimes growing isn’t fun, and then when you’re not growing and you’re not marketing yourself properly, it’s really, really stressful because then you’re, you’re losing money and you’re not getting these new accounts.
So, let’s first talk about is something I want to share with you, the difference between urgent and important. Okay, this is a graph. I don’t know if anybody has seen this before. But I just want to just take a minute, and as a consultant, I kind of can see these things really easy. But as a business owner like myself, I’m guilty of this too. You kind of get in that task mode where you start hurrying up. You’re just trying to write down all these things on your task list and check them off as fast as you can. You need to be a little bit more strategic and not just for you, but also for your team, your key people and use this, these four quadrants really as a way for you to help determine what you should be doing and what you should not be doing. The first one, if it’s important in urgent, that’s number one, then you do it. That’s something you should be doing. Number two, if it’s not urgent, but it is important. That’s something maybe that you plan, you put under calendar if it’s not important, or if it is important, I’m sorry if it’s not, if it is urgent, but not important delegated that’s number three. And then if it’s not urgent or not important, that’s eliminate, get rid of that. And again, I’m guilty of this too. There’s a lot of things that I’m doing and I’m wasting opportunity, time for me seeking other opportunities. If I’m doing things that I shouldn’t be doing in the first place. So, think about that. As you look at your calendar and things that you’re scheduling on, on tasks for you or your team. Try to implement something like that.
So, you’re not getting enough business. It’s not because your product knowledge. I work with many MSPs all around the country. I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is one of the smartest, you know, strongest knowledge base of, of people that I’ve ever worked with before. It’s not because of the hard work. I mean, there’s a lot of hard work, a lot of elbow grease that goes into the channel. So, hard work is certainly not the problem. It’s not the desire. Everybody wants to grow and make more money. And it’s not the skill in delivering solutions. That’s our ability to execute and deliver good quality service. It’s again, one of the best in the industry. And it’s not because of your value proposition. You know, we’re in a central business in today’s climate, we’re needed, we’re required, and we do have strong value propositions. Some of you might need some help on, on developing your own and making it unique and stronger, but it’s not the value proposition. So, it’s really because there’s not enough focus, there’s not enough attention, there’s not enough time, not enough energy really spent on new business development. That you need to have a plan. Here’s my point. So, here’s something I hope it doesn’t get under your skin, but I’m doing it on purpose to kind of jab at you. But, but listen to this quote, “The people who would value your solution the most, don’t know who you are or don’t realize how good you are”. Okay. Think about that for a second. You know, they don’t know who you are and don’t realize how good you are. So, to me, that comes back to the importance of marketing. You need to get out there and market yourself.
So, let’s talk about new business, you know, new business just doesn’t fall out of the sky or a tree doesn’t jump out in front of you. It just, it doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to be deliberate about that, right? So, I want to talk about where new business comes from. Okay. Let me kind of move into that. There’s three different things I wanna talk about here. Number one, is new accounts or location. Number two is displacing the, the, the challenging incumbent, right. Swipe and business away from them, or three is what I call a game-changing event. Okay. And I’ll talk about each of these in just a second.
So the new accounts or locations, and to me, that’s like a new businesses moving into town or, or a new business being formed, maybe heavily funded by BC breaking ground. So, take a look if it’s a, maybe an existing business, that’s opening up a remote office, you know, they’re filing licenses in your city or your county as public information that you have at your fingertips. If it’s a new business breaking ground and , you know, maybe a VC funded opportunity, you know, look for corporations being formed, new construction permits being filed, okay. That’s all public information and available at your fingertips. And there’s a little bit old school, but you can use technology, might talk about employment ads. It used to be a great opportunity. Think of it when, when you want to hire someone, you run ads, right? And you either use the old school newspaper, or maybe the online classified, you could do that. But a lot of people use things like ZipRecruiter, indeed, or even LinkedIn tools like that. Look at the ads of your target customer, look at the ads of your current customers, okay? Your prospects take a look at their ads, try to follow them. And that’s a great opportunity for you to, Hey, you’re looking for, you know, technical talent, you know, that’s something that I do. So, let’s just open invitation for you to solicit the opportunity and then this.
Devin: Oh, do you mind if I just ask one question on that? It’s interesting point. I’m curious, is that process more of a manual process where you’re just monitoring and kind of looking for opportunities as they arise, or are there tools available for something like that?
James: Yeah, that’s a great, great point. I’ve not seen tools that will help mine that data. It’s more of a manual process, but it’s kind of that reverse thinking. You know, everybody’s so used to using it as a tool to attract talent to you, but it’s a great way to look for, you know, new accounts, but I’ve only seen it done or heard of it done, you know, from a manual standpoint. Okay.
James: Another one, maybe the fifth one is, is leads groups and their specific lead groups that get together in your community. And some of them are like the traditional rotary or BNI or in the tip. And maybe in the Midwest center, spear is a popular one, but there are some of the groups that are dedicated to just net new business, since it’s new business, moving into town or moving out of town and look for leads groups like that, those are really valuable in San Diego, I can tell you, we were part of a group, and it was worth its weight in gold. Now in groups like that, you’re not going to find 15 it companies, but they’re all going to be representing different segments of the market, you know, maybe a copier dealer or a paper dealer, or a furniture dealer. And then you, you’re the it firm that represents the group and you all share the same leads. Okay.
And it kind of leads me to the next one is really referral marketing and referral marketing is really important again, especially in today’s times. So, the average customer that you have, the average customer that you work with works typically with about 30 different vendors. Okay. And think of, who’s the one who’s going to hear about someone moving first, maybe commercial real estate, maybe moving and storage, or maybe office furniture. Right. But my point is, you know, you’re one of the existing, take a look inside your customer base and start working with all of these other 29 vendors on average that you potentially have a relationship with them. I think back of when I was running my companies, every at the end of every year, I would print out a sales report and I would analyze all my top accounts. I would sort by revenue and I would analyze it over the three previous years because I want to see, you know, which one’s getting more revenue, which ones getting less revenue. And I remember the last year before I sold the business, four of my top 10 accounts were referrals from one of my partners. And I actually got a lot of really good leads from a leasing company, believe it or not, that would always pull me in the loop and give me a shot. So, look at finding these referral partnerships cause they’re really invaluable. You could do marketing activities with them as well. Okay.
All right. So, let’s talk about displacing the incumbent and this is a little bit more challenging. So I found a Harvard business review study, and I think it was really interesting about the psychology behind, why companies change vendors. I thought this was fascinating. So the number one reason why companies switch vendors are because some type of core service failure, like a catastrophic failure, a major botch job, mistake, costs lots of money, you know, billing errors, you know, constant billing errors. It can be a real nuisance, just a catastrophic failure. So, something that did damage our business. So, think about that. That’s the number one reason at 44%. Now the second one at 24% is similar. It’s maybe a service encounter failure, like an uncaring response, people being impolite, maybe you’re a salespeople being impolite or a service technician being polite. And I’m poking fun at the DMV a little bit because I think we’ve all experienced, you know, some less than lackluster performance from, from some of their service personnel. But the reality is, you know, if you look at the number two reasons why they switch, it’s almost 75%, it’s really around service. Okay. It’s around the services that you provide. And the third one, which was real shocking to me was price. And Devin think about this. And for those of you listening and to have salespeople, how many times do you think your salespeople drop their price just to get their foot in the door? I got a little on my price and be really aggressive to get their business in the very beginning. That’s not the reason why companies switch vendors it’s way down the list. Okay. So, I thought that was interesting. And then there’s some other reasons most of them are around, you know, service, you know, bad culture, , ethical problems, things like that.
But just in summary, you know, remember that the service is the number one, the core service failure’s number one reason why people leave the service encounter failures, right. And then price. And then a couple other reasons underneath that. So, let’s look at the customer mindset or the customer attitude. Today’s landscape. The overwhelming majority are they’re happy with their current solution provider. They have no intentions of switching. Then the next piece of the pie is they’re either too lazy or too busy to look for another solution provider. We can all relate to that. Cause we’re all crazy and busy too. And then the third piece of the pie that this is the group that we’re really trying to find, right? The green piece of the pie that they’re unhappy with their current solution provider. It’s a lot easier to talk, someone like that into switching from vendor, a vendor b. Right? So that’s what we’re trying to do.
So, my whole point is displacing the incumbent is hard. You know, most accounts have current vendors. Most customers won’t change unless they have a really bad experience with their existing vendor and customers won’t even see you unless they have a good reason. You know, you have to have, you have to earn the right, but my point is sooner or later, you’re going to get a chance. So, it’s important to constantly be making contents be in the right place at the right time a year or two early is better than a year too late. So, here’s something that kind of relates back to this. Many of you have probably seen staff like this out on social media, for example, but 2% of sales are made on the first content, right. That hardly ever happens. 3% are made on the second contact. 5% are made on the third contact, 10% on the fourth contact over 80% of sales happen after the fifth or 12th contact.
So, think back again, for those of you that either have active marketing campaigns going or more specifically salespeople that make meaningful contacts with prospects, how often are they pinging them? How often are you communicating with them? Okay. And then here’s something that just is mind boggling to me, 48% of salespeople never follow up with a prospect in the first place. That sounds hard to believe, but I’ve run huge sales organizations. And I’ll tell you what normally happens is when you get leads, you don’t give them to your best salespeople because they’re the busiest and they’re always gone. You’d normally they flow down to kind of the lower performing salespeople that have lots of time. And this is what happens when you do it. That way. That’s a very common practice. 25% of sales people make a second contact and then they give up, they quit and 12% make more than three contexts. So you can see the importance of, of being in the right place at the right time and pinging those prospects. And it’s an important.
Devin: James, one thing I’ve noticed talking to MSPs is I think MSP business people and MSPs in particular are concerned about not wanting to like agitate people are not coming across like they’re spamming or being a bit too aggressive with marketing. Probably, maybe because they’re, the way that they’re marketed to themselves tends to be very aggressive and they don’t want to continue on that to the people they’re trying to reach. How do you, how would you approach that as an MSP where like, you know, maybe if there’s an MSP who is feeling that sort of hesitancy, what would your advice be to towards them?
James: So, perfect segue right into this. That’s a great question to me. The answer is long-term exposure with multiple approaches. If, if you’re just a cold call dog and you just sit there and pound the phones, and that’s the only way you ever talk to them, you know, some people get turned off by them. And unfortunately years ago, you know, 20, 30 years ago, there weren’t too many creative marketing ways of touching clients or prospects, you know, you really had to work the phone. My point is I think you need to have multiple approaches to contact, you know, prospects and another important piece. I think in today’s time, you want to be different, and this is what I call edutainment. So, you need to educate them and you need to entertain them and be a little different. Maybe it’d be a little funny, just being unique. So, edutainment and in your marketing campaigns really need to be educational. So, mix it up. You try to mix it up with different ways in approaches. And, I think back at different marketing campaigns that I would be doing, we did a lot of things. We did a ton of things and you need to just see what works and what doesn’t work. But you need the multiple approaches. Okay. So, let’s talk about something else. That’s important, you know, Devin, you’re the expert on this, but you know, how are you different or better than the competition? And this is an honest question for all of you to kind of look back at yourselves and are you really attractive from a prospect standpoint? You know, how are you different are better than the competition from your customer’s perspective. And hopefully all of you have done this exercise and you’ve got a really good elevator pitch and a very good USP, but the reality is a lot of us are very similar and you need to be different or better in your marketing message. That’s really important. So if you haven’t done that exercise, make sure to do that. You know, to that that really is the cornerstone or foundational messaging that you and all your customer facing employees should be saying to prospects and customers. That’s important. Another thing I felt important is, it’s the leader responsibility in the business to provide the right resources to their team like the right tools you ever heard. You know, you have to have the right tool for the right job. You know, I remember reading in from dad’s work bench with a screwdriver, trying to pound a nail in the wall and was like, all right, son, come here, sit down. You know, you gotta have the right tool for the right job. You’ve got to have a hammer for that. And no dad, his screwdriver would work just fine. And, you know, you learn all those things the hard way. And especially all these tools are so much more affordable than they used to be. But there’s a lot of great tools out there, whether it’s cloud-based or on-prem, but have the right sales and marketing tools. And I’m talking specifically about, you know, a good CRM PSA combo with a quoting module, pipeline management and something that you can monitor the activities. And this is why it’s important because if you’re, if you’re doing what eBridge marketing preachers and, and you have lots of leads coming in, and lots of sources, you need to have a tool that tracks all of these different leads coming into your database. You know, you should be tracking the website, visits, the inbound calls, outbound calls, appointments, right? All these different sources. And there’s more today than there ever has been, you know, as social media and digital marketing, you need all this funneling back into your tool.
And for those of you that have salespeople, you know, pay on performance. So, you pay on results. Hopefully that’s how most people would pay commissions based on the gross profit or how much recurring revenue they sell. But you also need to be monitoring the KPIs of the number of emails, the number of calls, number of meetings, number of proposals or demos. You should be keeping track of all that stuff in a system, in your PSA or CRM. Okay. I think that’s really important.
James: So, let’s talk about the game changing event and what do I mean by game changing event? So, this is a football analogy, but where the whole moment of the game switches, where you intercept the ball in the fourth quarter and get ready to drive down the field. So, there’s opportunities like that in our side, I’m talking about, you know, large, new opportunities or new bids. So, like when a company is moving or they have a huge forklift upgrade, or maybe they’re restructuring the business, you know, RFPs are sent out, there’s different things that happen in the business. But when you see that maybe in the media or you hear about it through the mail, through your strategic partner community, those are opportunities for you to get involved in that account. So, an example could be like a new CXO, a new CFO, COO, CEO, anytime leadership changes, they’re gonna make change. That’s the whole purpose of bringing in some new blood and new energy. And sometimes it takes a little longer than the normal, but you want to keep a close eye on that certainly within your customer base, but also your target accounts, keep close eye on what’s going on with those target accounts or what I call the dreaded consultant. You know, Bob, the consultant from the movie Office Space. And I don’t know if any of you saw that great movie, but when consultants get involved, their consultants typically implement change and they make recommendations just like I would in a business. Now that’s what people pay for it. They want to get better. So, a good way to stay closely tuned into that, and I don’t know how many of you use this has been around for a long time, but make sure that your salespeople are doing this for your customers and your key prospects, your target list, but use Google alerts. I actually going to have a Google alert on myself on my name. So you can put company names, individual names in there. And I got a Google alert, there was a press release that somebody released with my name on it. And I kind of knew about it, but I didn’t know the timing of it. And it was actually out of Canada, but Google picked it up and sent me a push alert via email that, Hey, there was a press release that just went out with your name. So, use that with your prospects and your customers to stay turned in and what’s going on with them. It’s a great way to just be, get a real-time knowledge on what’s happening. Okay.
Devin: You could probably even feed that into a slack channel nowadays. I imagine there’s probably an integration. That’s going to be an easy way to, to monitor it.
James: Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a great idea. I didn’t share that the team, absolutely. So, you know, we talked about new business can come from new accounts or new location displacing the incumbent or those game-changing events, but each of them have a different set of lead sources and selling strategies. Okay. But what do all three of these have in common, Timing, you gotta be in the right place at the right time. That’s why you need to be prospecting all the time and all the sales trainings that I do. It’s our responsibility as sales professionals to form of human platonic professional relationship with our prospects to get them to like you and trust you and to know what your value proposition like you and trust you, and you gotta be in the right place at the right time. I like using the analogy, you know, Thanksgiving’s right around the corner and you’ve gotta be perfectly positioned to take advantage of every opportunity, just like the little puppy under the table at Thanksgiving. That’s what we want to do with our prospects.
James: Okay. So let me, let me kind of go into part three of the presentation where I want to talk about some real world wins of how to win and what I did to win some big contracts. So I, my company, my last company was in San Diego where California corporation, I had just bought a small reseller with only three people. And that first year we only grew, you know, we’re, at this time we were about 1.1 million in sales, and we had eight employees and I was in growth mode trying to, to grow the business and an RFP hit the streets. You know, the dreaded RFP, most people don’t like bidding on RFPs because the probability of winning those are so small, but I had a lot of experience with RFPs and I wasn’t intimidated, but an RFP came from a company called Clark construction and they were the prime contractor on the new baseball field that was going in and downtown San Diego.
Now it was kind of crazy to think about it, cause it was a big contract. It was over a million dollars worth of networking and cabling and technology that they wanted for the whole stadium. And I realized don’t gosh, a person, a company, my size, only eight people. You know, I’m not sure that we’re going to have enough room to pull this off. So, I partnered with, a large cable contractor that we had done some joint venture contracts with before and together we’re really completing the solution. So, it was a big, our team put together a Cisco 65 0 9 course, which, edge switches on all of the decks, a lot of wifi equipment all over the stadium. There’s a huge contract. There are a lot of cabling, of course, running through conduit that looked like a sewer pipes. But the contract, we ended up the contract, believe it or not. And it was a $1.2 million contract. And the cool part was we bid it kind of lean margins, but we’re making good money on the we’re making good money on the, on the hardware, but we’re making great money on the, on the services. But we, we won that. And normally the last vendor that goes into a big construction project, think of it when they break dirt, they start building everything kind of the finishing touches on the back end is, you know, everything has all the infrastructure has to be there in order for you to set up the network. So, we were one of the last vendors going in there. So, by then the prices will drop quite a bit. So, we ended up making a ton of margin and a customer was super happy because we had enough margin, we actually upgraded the technology for them and gave them more equipment than they even asked for. But it wasn’t the money that was so valuable to me at that time off that one contract, it was the marketing benefits of, Hey, my small firm just won this huge contract and you know, who’s this new company in town. So that was really important. There was another really big contract that same year that hit. And I don’t know if any of you do business with the federal government. I had a lot of experience in selling to the federal government and also the federal prime contractors. Well, this was a federal prime contractor opportunity. It already had been awarded to EDS and EDS was announcing the largest technology contract ever. It was like two times bigger than any contract that ever hit the street. And it was $9 billion worth of technology product. So, 425,000 desktops, it was an eight-year project. And Dell was one of the seven subcontractors underneath EDS that got a sliver of a contract. So, it was a worldwide deployment. Basically, every Navy and Marine Corps base in the entire country was being retrofitted in seven different ways with technology. And then the coolest part of the project Devin is, after four years, they’re going to redo everything they just had done at that time. It was every 14 months, corporate America was replacing desktop computers. And so, the government saw that and they wanted to upgrade their technology after four years. So, the cool thing was a lead came in, so it was a web lead and they called into the office. And I remember asking the question and go, how did you find us? What did you type in? No, we went to Google and we typed in San Diego because we were looking, this was a company out of New Jersey that contacted us. And, so they were looking at Dell because it was a Dell, Dell computer rollout. And they wanted to see who was a certified small business. So small business, San Diego and Dell. So that’s what they typed in. And we were one of the three choices they called in. And I remember a sales rep grabbed the call, took the information down and ran over right away. Hey, this sounds like a nice opportunity. You need to call them back. So, I called them, we set up a conference call interview and it was a series of three interviews, and the guy at the third one said, Hey, we really like you guys. We we’re gonna plan on using you, just stand by and I’ll be in touch and a month goes by. And all of a sudden it was a Thursday night, about five 15 at night. And I pick up the phone and they said, Hey, Monday morning at seven o’clock in the morning, I need four full-time people here. It’s your time to shine. And I’m like, you know, and this was when I had eight people. So, we kind of knew this would potentially be coming. So we had some candidates already lined up. But I wasn’t sure, but we scrambled and got four of the best guys we can. And it, we did well and we continued to hire more people and put them out in the field and it expanded into 22 states and five full-time staffing people. We had 289 engineers bill out one payroll period, but it was a three-year contract for us and very lucrative, but, it represented over $10 million of revenue. It’s all service revenue. So, our costs were, were pretty low. So that was a big win for us, you know, but that was a different type of lead that came in through, through Google.
And here’s another one. So the third example I want to give you is a company called Cardinal health. They were a technology provider to hospitals and, , a friend had called me that works at Cardinal health. And one of his responsibilities were he had this big warehouse that they were subcontracting, or they were renting from Mayflower in San Diego county. And it was, their problem was a third-party help desk company would diagnose when any of these computer failures would happen in the hospitals. And instead of trying to fix it, they would just ship brand new computers out. And these were all like very high-end computers, either desktops or servers. And they would just shrink wrap pallets and pallets of computers and ship it back to San Diego. And they just sat in a warehouse in San Diego and a big warehouse in Denton, mountain, Colorado. And he was responsible for the San Diego warehouse and he came in and show me everything. I go, well, why don’t, you know, maybe one or two things are wrong with these computers. Why don’t you try to refurbish them and put, take a couple of different computers and put all the parts in one good one and put it back in service with a warranty. Why don’t you do something like that? So, he goes, well, write up a proposal. So, I did, what’s called a circle of leverage and I put together a proposal with the return on investment and it was quite compelling, but I sent it to the entire leadership team of the company and I cc’ed, and I put all the different names of all the individuals. So, it wasn’t like I, it to one person and they could throw it in the round file. I sent it to over 12 people and they all knew, went in a FedEx envelope. So it looked official now, but they all knew who else was getting it. So, it created quite a stir, but the exciting thing, it was a $12 million ROI because so much equipment was being wasted just in one year. So, it was about a six to eight month process that we went through a testing and proof of concept, but we won a $2 million services engagement that first year. And that was really one of the big things that added value to my business. It’s something unique that right when I sold the business. So that was a really big win for us.
So I want to give you some different examples, but, but what did we do to get that new business? No, the reality is we did a lot of things. We did a lot of different things and jokingly I say marketing is really easy. You need to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, but you have to have a marketing plan. You have to have a plan and you have to have something to track all of that. Okay. And just remember success, it’s a statistical event, you know, the number of contacts, the quality of your offer, the power and authority of the person you’re talking to and the urgency of the customer, the timing, okay. These four things all really have to be together because a times b times, c times zero is what is zero. You need all four of these, right. To make it work. So think about that when you’re doing your campaigning or you’re selling, , these four things are really important to be effective and remember as well, you know, there’s a lot of, from a numbers standpoint, you know, a lot of phone activity, maybe a thousand phone calls would help you get 200 warm conversations, maybe 50 appointments, 25 proposals and seven wins, and it’s really a numbers game. And that’s, again, why it’s important to kind of mix in as many different sales activities that your sales reps can be doing with good marketing activities that your corporate marketing team can be doing, because that’s where the rubber meets the road.
So, in summary, I talked about the business reality and how crazy busy we are. We talked about where do business comes from, hopefully that helped you and then some illustrations to win. Okay. So Devin, how about we open things up for some questions from some folks.
Devin: Awesome. Thanks, James. That was an awesome presentation. Really appreciate it. And, yeah, if, for any attendees there, there’s the question and answer box, and if you have any questions now would be a great time to submit them. And, James maybe just one question I have for you here while we’re soliciting some others. You know, I talked to some MSPs and see conversations online about cold calling and it seems to be quite a divided topic. And, you know, some people swear by it and it’s kind of their bread and butter. And some people say it doesn’t work at all anymore. And I’ve actually noticed that it seems to be a little bit geography dependent to different markets seem to have different opinions. So, I was just curious about your opinion on that. What do you view as the role of cold calling?
James: Oh, I, I grew up on the phone in the industry, so I was a big fan of it early on, but, but like, my presentation was kind of hinting at, you know, the competitive landscape has really changed across the board about how you should be communicating with prospects, but I’m still a fan that it, first of all, let me define what, what is cold calling, you know, is it calling a cold list and that’s all you’re doing. You’re not emailing them. You’re not sending them things in the mail. You’re not doing social media. , you’re not doing Google ads, that kind of marketing, it’s really frustrating. And if, if you have some, some inexpensive people making lots of dials for you that might help warm things up. But what I see happening in working really well together is when you have other campaigns. And let me give you an example. So Hartland, say you guys put together a three-step email campaign and you’re warming up a cold mist and you go through the email analytics and I’m a sales rep. And I pick up the phone and I’m going to call every single person that clicked on that link more than three times. That’s what I see working really well or an email and a phone call and an email and a phone call or a postcard hits their desk and then a phone call. So when traditional phone work works with these other campaigns, that’s when I see it working really, really well.
Devin: Makes sense. So, it has to be a bit more integrated of an approach.
James: Right, exactly. Exactly.
Devin: Okay. And we have one question from Claude here, and I’ll just read it out and make sure I understand it. So how do you deal when you help an MSP while she knows that you worked with his competitor before him?
James: How do I work? Well, so it’s a question maybe directed to me, as a consultant. I think that’s a competitive advantage that I would know the marketplace. One thing I will say is I typically don’t work with more than one person in the same geography at the same time. So, you know, that could be a conflict of interest in, you gotta be real careful about that. In my why, you know, it’s not really money related, I just like helping people and, you know, so I don’t want 15 customers all in the same geography. That’s not fun. I just want one. So, if anything, I would think, in the businesses that I had, several of them had really grown quite a bit that company I had in years back, we had 18 offices and in 15 different cities. So, you know, I had a lot of exposure of selling not just nationally, but internationally. And then I’ve learned even more. It seems like as a consultant, working with different individuals, like Claude in different geographies as well. Is that, did I answer that question?
Devin: Maybe Claude if, perfect Claude just said yes. So, okay. Another question I had for you here, James, is you alluded to do com boom, and how that presented opportunities early on in this millennium. I’m just curious, do you see any parallels to dot com bust and what our current environment is today with COVID and all the economic challenges?
James: Kind of it’s , you know, I think Dot Com was, was something that, you know, forced change and then it just kind of, it, everybody was changing cause they thought it was all these bad things were going to happen when you know, two digits moved to four digits and it, and it didn’t right. So that kind of was a bust, but, I think there was also some other economic things flattening out, I think in today’s environment, you know, who knows what will happen with our economy. In any potential white house administration changes. I mean, there, the good news is our economy was doing really strong coming into the elections. And regardless if it’s a Republican or Democrat statistically in the past, the markets always have performed, economies have performed on average pretty well. So, I don’t think we’re really into a bust, but what I will tell you, and it’s what I’ve been preaching inside, my mastermind community with people that I work with is, you know, I’ll just use myself as an example, I’m driving down the street and I look over and is this restaurant open? Yes or no? I can’t tell all the lights aren’t on. And is this laundry mat I got to drop off some dry cleaning is my dry cleaner. I don’t know. I haven’t heard from, you know, don’t be that person, you know, your customers and your prospects, they need to hear from you during this pandemic. They don’t need to wonder is he open or not yet? You know, you should be over communicating to them, not just your customers, but also your prospects be that thought leader, be educating them and let them know that you’re open. And, and Hey baby, my team’s expanding our hours cause we want to better serve our community. But leverage marketing and, and the funny thing, Devin is most people, one of the first things, when they think they’re going to hit, you know, an economy dip and they’re going to lose some revenues, one of the first things they pull out their budget shockingly is advertising the market. And I, I’ve never understood that.
Devin: Maybe sales to an extent, right. You know, it seems like a, a cost that seems like it’s not a hard cost. That’s kind of how they view it. Right?
James: Yeah. It kind of floats. And my whole point is that should be let your competitors do that. That makes more opportunity for you. So, if anything, you should invest more in sales and marketing.
Devin: And just being mindful of time. Do you have time for a couple more questions, perhaps James, and if there’s anyone else in the audience who has a question that would be great. If not, I have one here as well.
James: Yeah, you better do.
Devin: so just going back to the unique selling proposition that you alluded to in the presentation earlier, you know, sometimes I talk to MSPs who don’t really have a strong USP. And to me, it kind of relates to having a defined target market to go after. Marketing agencies actually have a similar problem as MSPs in this respect where we’re pitching very similar services to our competition a lot of time. And from the perspective of a customer, it can be very difficult to differentiate different providers. So that kind of goes into the USP. So, I was just curious, if you’re an MSP and you know, you’re technically proficient and you’re good at the services, but you don’t really have a strong USP and there’s nothing really obvious that to latch onto. How would you approach that?
James: So rephrase the question one more time. Are you talking about where you’re talking about target markets, thinking about your USP?
Devin: I suppose I, I think they might. They’re, I’m assuming they’re related in that quite often, the USP is, you know, it’s specific to your target market. So, for instance, if you’re an MSP serving, let’s say dental offices, then your USP might be regarding like what I understand the dental infrastructure.
James: Got it. Okay. I’m with you now. So, so that’s a great question. And what’s interesting, for years I’ve always said, I love niche markets, but have a couple, you know, you can have one maybe that you’re really, really, really good at and you focus on, but don’t put all your beans in one basket, have a couple other markets. And in my companies deliberately, because normally I was wanting to grow at a steady rate in the quarter after quarter after quarter after quarter. And there’s some industries that are cyclical. Okay. And I, some of the first big companies I worked with were, were government entities and the government, their fiscal year end is September 30th. So Q3 was always a huge quarter in Q4 and then it would kind of ramp back up and then it would go down. And then the education market, I started picking up some of those clients and they were, their fiscal year ends the end of June. So maybe Q2 was a lot better, I think in corporate America, maybe Q4. So on purpose, I kept a diverse portfolio of clients that I worked with. And then my company is when I was the owner, we did it on purpose. Now think of how, how much it would hurt if coming into the pandemic, Devin, if you just focused on hospitality where we tip. Yeah. Right. And I, I’m a believer in having niche markets, but have more than one is my point.
Devin: Great. That’s awesome advice. Okay. Well, it looks like there’s no other questions from the audience or perhaps speak now or forever hold your peace. But, you know, James, I really appreciate you joining us today. That was a really awesome presentation. And, for the attendees, if you’re interested in sharing it or checking it out again, there will be a recording made available. So, check your email. We’llsend you an email about that and awesome.
James: Thanks Devin. It’s a pleasure to be with you. And, if anybody has any questions, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you. Thank you.
Devin: Great. Oh, Claude says, thanks. You made, you made a stay. So, you’re very welcome Claude to enjoy the rest of your day and thanks everybody.
James: All right. Thanks Devin. Take care everyone.
Posted November 2, 2021
Categories: Advertising and Marketing General, Webinar
Tags: b2b marketing, msp, New Accounts