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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

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4 Takeaways for MSPs from the HubSpot INBOUND14 Conference

Posted September 19, 2014by Nate Teplow

INBOUND14-header-image

This week a number of our team members attended the HubSpot INBOUND14 Conference in Boston, MA. Our CMO, Jeanne Hopkins, even spoke about transforming your marketing team from outbound to inbound. As always, HubSpot did a fantastic job running the event and gathering a strong group of thought-leaders, innovators and collaborators to talk about the future of marketing.

Obviously, there were a ton of great lessons we learned from INBOUND14, but we wanted to boil it down to 4 of the most important takeaways for MSPs. Here they are.

1. "Leadership is a practice, a daily practice"

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Simon Sinek giving his keynote at INBOUND14

This is a quote from Simon Sinek, who had a fabulous keynote on the first day. He spoke about how humans have evolved as social animals, and how that translates to leaders and the modern workplace. One of the points he made was that leadership isn't based on making big important decisions, but rather, the small decisions you make on an every day basis. 

As an MSP business owner, you are the leader of your business, and it's important that you ARE that leader every single day. The way to earn respect from employees is to demonstrate that leadership on a daily basis, not because you make important decisions. Even if you make the correct important decisions, your respect is earned on the little things you do on an every day basis.

However, as the leader of your business, there's obviously a great deal of responsibility. Sinek explained how early humans were social animals, so they formed tribes to protect themselves from outside dangers. In these tribes, certain leaders rose because they were respected by the other tribe members. However, when a threat faced the tribe, the members expect that appointed leader to run to the danger first. 

The same thing happens in business today. When something threatens your business, you (the business owner) are expected to lead your employees through that threat. Are you ready to run towards that danger if it happens? 

2. Marketing Takes Time

I think this is a very important point to make to MSPs. Marketing takes time! Many MSPs will try one email campaign or spend money on adwords for only one month then give up and say they don't have time for marketing.

However, this isn't marketing!

Marketing requires lots of testing, optimizing, and figuring it out as you go. You are never going to get someone to sign up for your services on the same day they find out about you. Choosing an MSP is an important decision for businesses, they are never going to make a decision based on one encounter with you. You need to move them through the research phase and buying cycle through multiple touches across multiple channels.

 

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Our CMO Jeanne Hopkins speaking at INBOUND14

Our very own CMO, Jeanne Hopkins, noted this in her talk at Navigate. She presented her 5 "T's" for transforming your outbound marketing into an effective inbound marketing program.

  • Team
  • Transparency
  • Trust
  • Time
  • Tracking

Simply trying one-off marketing campaigns does not mean you're doing marketing. Make sure you're devoting the time and resources you need to marketing. There is absolutely a tipping point where it starts to generate real ROI for you.

I went to a great talk by Hiten Shah, who's founded a number of successful marketing companies with his business partner Neil Patel. He said, "Figure out what's working, then do more of it." This is basically the essence of marketing, you need to try different things, continuously optimize and then double down on what's working.

MSPs need to understand that marketing takes time and that giving up after one or two attempts on a campaign will not drive results.

3. Sales Takes Time

Yes, I know I just told you that marketing takes time. Well this may be hard to hear, but so does sales. You need to be patient with the selling process and make sure you're helping the prospect through their buying process.

Chris Brogan gave a talk about driving sales through content and social networks. He quoted that "80% of all sales come from somewhere between the 5th and 11th contact with that prospect." And this is after you've already marketed to them and educated them on your services. You need to consistently follow up with prospects to make sure you're staying top of mind and continue to help educate them in their buying decision. 

Don't be afraid to call a prospect a 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th time. Those touches are necessary to make a sale and ultimately grow your business.

4. "Business is a human experience"

This is another one of my favorite quotes from the conference, again, from Simon Sinek's keynote. While this isn't a tangible strategy of something you can start doing today, it's something to keep in mind in everything you do as a business. 

Ultimately, people like doing business with other people. It's important to be authentic in all of the sales and marketing initiatives you launch. Sometimes, MSPs get too caught up in trying to act bigger and more corporate than they really are. However, it's probably more effective to use personal messaging put a face to your business' name.

Sinek emphasized how important human touch is to relationships. He gives the example of signing a business contract and closing a deal. If you just signed up a new client, and they reach out the shake your hand and you simply say, "We look forward to getting started" without returning the hand shake, how would that make your client feel?

Sure, the contract is signed and shaking hands doesn't add any tangible business value, however it's that human touch that strengthens and adds trust to that relationship. Physical contact actually releases a hormone in the human body called Oxytocin, which makes you feel trust. Humans rely on this chemical as social animals, and that's why shaking hands is so important when you sign up a new client.

Now, the takeaway here is not that you should shake hands after a business meeting, hopefully you know that. However, it's important to understand the human component of business. This should be reflected in your marketing materials, communications, sales process and continued relationship with your clients. 

Conclusion

We had a great time at INBOUND14. It was packed full of great people, inspiring speakers and industry thought leaders. As an MSP, marketing is an activity often overlooked, yet is incredibly important to your business, especially if you want to grow. Marketing takes time, it's not something that's accomplished in a few small attempts. You need to continuously work on it and optimize it in order to see some results. However, when done effectively, marketing will fuel the growth you're looking for as an MSP.


The-Complete-Guide-to-MSP-Marketing-eBook

Nate Teplow is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Continuum, currently managing the company's RMM marketing initiatives. Nate's experience spans inbound marketing, content strategy, marketing communications and B2B lead generation. A proud Miami Hurricane alumni, Nate enjoys staying active, traveling to new places and performing A/B tests.

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