Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Episode 35: Use case studies to win more clients

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 35: Use case studies to win more clients
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In this week's episode

  • We all know how important case studies are in helping to get new clients, but did you know there's so much more you can do with one? This week on the show, Paul explains a few simple extra steps that you could apply to the process of creating and sharing case studies that could dramatically increase your sales close rate
  • Also coming up this week, how to check if your MSP is sellable, from the expert special guest who works full-time in mergers and acquisitions
  • Plus, along with a listener question about using 'live chat' on your website, Paul lays down a plan that could give you a content marketing super-power

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: A big warm welcome back to the show. Here's what we've got lined up for you today. Linda Rose: As much contractual revenue, the better. It doesn't need to be a three-year contract either. That was one of the biggest mistakes and the worst advice I would say that I got. The fact that I had a one-year contract, and then it was evergreen, meaning it would just roll over into the next year automatically, they were totally fine with that. Paul Green: Plus, we'll be talking about the perfect format for a case study, and how to use case studies to positively influence prospects before you sit down for sales meetings. And we'll look at whether or not you should be putting live chat on your website. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: One of the most positive habits that I've developed in the last 20 years or so is that of reading, reading business books, marketing books, in fact, any book that I think can help me in my career, in my life. I love self-improvement books. I have literally bookshelves and bookshelves and bookshelves of books. I've got about 40 or 50 sat in a wish list on Amazon waiting for me to buy. Often when someone says to me, "Oh, Paul, you really must read this book," I'll just go and buy instantly. I have shelves of books that I haven't read yet. I mean, lockdown was almost a pleasure for me because I had all the books ready to read. I just sort of had to sit down and read them. Paul Green: A lot of the books that I read are okay. I mean, you always get something out of a book, don't you? It's always worth the 15, 20 pounds or dollars that you pay for a book because you only need one nugget, one idea out a book, and it's paid for itself, sometimes many, many times over. But just now and again, you read a book and I look at it and I think this book is special. And when I've read that book, it goes on to a very specific bookcase in my library. It's not really a library, it's our spare room, but you get the idea. Paul Green: That particular bookcase is full of the books that I believe make the greatest impact either to my life or to your life. They're the kind of books that I want to tell people about. And about four or five weeks or so ago, I read a book, which immediately, I mean, within the first about 20 pages, I knew that this book was going to earn its place on that special bookshelf. And the book is called, They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan. Paul Green: Now, there is absolutely no substitute for you reading this book because some of the things I'm about to tell you that are in this book, you will think are utter heresy. You'll think I'm completely mad. And certainly, there was nothing in this book, which absolutely taught me a brand new skill that I've never had before. But what it did was it helped me to clarify in my head why content marketing is so important for MSPs. Paul Green: So here's the very brief story of this book. The author 15 years ago was running a swimming pool installation company in the States. And during the Great Recession of 2007-2008, they very, very nearly went under and he would have lost his house and the same for his business partners. And they switched all of their marketing away over a period of time, away from sort of paid advertising via Google on to content marketing. And they really went to town on their content marketing. And I'll tell you in a second, what kind of content they use, but it was all primarily based on their website. Paul Green: And they completely turned the business around to the extent that the author where he owned it, certainly at the point, he wrote the book, which was a few years ago, that business was completely a different business. And it was absolutely killing it, selling a hell of a lot of swimming pools, and absolutely wiping the floor with its competitors. And then he's gone on to start a digital marketing agency, doing pretty much the same thing, and obviously implementing the same kind of concepts, but for paying clients. The basic principle of They Ask, You Answer is one of transparency. It's one of openness. And it's one of answering the questions that people are asking whether or not you want to answer them. Paul Green: I'll give you an example from the swimming pool world and then we'll look at an MSP example. So back in the day with his company, with his swimming pool company, they only sold fibreglass pools. I don't have a swimming pool myself, not yet anyway, but apparently, there is a difference in the kinds of swimming pools that you can buy. You can buy a fibreglass one, or you can have a concrete one installed. And I forget the third type. I've kind of skipped over that bit in the book. Paul Green: But let's say there are three types of pool that you can buy, and fibreglass, which is all that his company sold, it's not necessarily the very best kind of pool. Sometimes in some situations, a concrete one might be more applicable. So they wrote a very, very long and in-depth article on their website about the difference between fibreglass and concrete and the other type of pool. Paul Green: Essentially they were very, very honest with their future customer about which kind of pool will be right for them. So they laid out all the situations, all the circumstances, what would be a better installation of a concrete pool, what would be a better installation of fibreglass pool et cetera. Really, really went to town on it, seriously in-depth content. Paul Green: And what happened off the back of that is now if someone searches for fibreglass pool or concrete swimming pool, their website comes up at the top. And he's thinking was this, I think he's absolutely right in this thinking, people are asking these questions anyway. And there are a whole bunch of other questions that they're asking. The people are asking these questions, we should be the ones to answer them. Because if we're answering them, even if it means we lose a sale because they don't go for a fibreglass pool, here's the thing. We were never going to get that sale anyway. Because they were going to do their research, and they were going to pick a concrete pool which we don't supply. Paul Green: But by us answering these questions for them, we become the authority, the authority on swimming pools. And that's exactly what they've pulled off. They've answered all the questions that anyone could possibly ask about swimming pools, and they've been completely honest about it. They've said when their product range is not the right product range. They've compared themselves to their competitors. They've literally done a series of articles about them and their competitors. And they've said, what makes them good and what makes their competitors good. They've talked about pricing, and no one ever wants to put prices onto a website. And if you do that, then you're a pretty brave person to do it. Paul Green: So to the MSPs that I work with, I always recommend don't put pricing on your website. But what Marcus Sheridan did was he wrote about indicative pricing in the same way that the answer for an MSP of how much is it is it depends. It's exactly the same with a swimming pool. It depends. But they wrote a very, very long article about it depends and they listed all the variable things that affects the price. It's a very, very smart move. Paul Green: I think this is something that you should be doing in your MSP. You should get this book, you should absorb this book and then throw yourself into content. Now, some caveats that go with this. We're talking serious content, you're probably going to have to either hire a writer or outsource this in some way, or if you've got the resources, throw your business into content creation in a way that you'd never done before. And that's probably the thing that's going to stop you from doing this. It's going to stop most MSPs from doing this because that's a fairly large commitment. Paul Green: But I can see the benefits for this are absolutely massive. If you can get this right, you will build up a trust with your prospects that just doesn't exist right now. Because prospects are really suspects even if they're building a relationship with you through the principle of you building audiences and marketing to them which is a marketing principle I've been a big fan of for a very, very long time. They're still suspects. They're still slightly scared of buying services from an MSP because remember, they don't understand our world. They don't know what they don't know about buying IT support. And this is why education marketing through content is such a powerful thing to do. Paul Green: This is the next step. This is filling your way website with articles and videos and utterly, utterly, utterly filling it with all the questions that they could possibly want to answer. So please do get this book, go and have a good read of this book. It's available obviously in paper, on Kindle, it's available on Audible, it really is worth reading it. And even if you could implement just a little bit of it, it could make a major difference to your MSP marketing. Voiceover: Here's this week's clever idea. Paul Green: Taking the idea of influencing prospects further forward from that. We talked before on this podcast about the power of social proof. Social proof is demonstrating that other people have acted to buy from you because most people prefer to do what most other people are doing. This was a term coined by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his classic 1980s book Influence, the power of psychology. He talks about six weapons of influence, one of them being social proof, and we know social proof today as being expressed in three different formats. Paul Green: You've got testimonials, which are reviews that you control which go on to your website because typically you solicit them. You've then got actual reviews themselves. So reviews are things that go on to external websites where you have no control over them. And that makes them more powerful than testimonials from a social proof point of view because you can't edit them. And then the final format for social proof is a case study. And that's what I want to focus on today. Paul Green: Because case studies are enormous. And you should be putting together case studies for your business to cover a whole wide range of things that you sell. So you should have some general case studies just from general clients, you should have case studies for specific verticals or niches that you operate in. And you should have a case study for each major service that you sell. Paul Green: So if you have a VoIP solution, have a case study for it. If you have a particular disaster recovery solution that's perhaps a little bit more advanced or a little bit more expensive, have a case study for it so that you can sell it to more people. Now there's a specific format for a great case study and let me take you through that format. Paul Green: It's a six-step format. And it starts with setting context because people read things more carefully if they believe it is relevant to them. So you need to start your case study with the context. For example, this is a problem that most business owners will face while they own their business. Or this is something that will keep many business owners up at four in the morning. Business owners is context because if you're talking to business owners or business managers, they will respond to that phrase. Paul Green: Now, please don't get dragged into using gobbledygook jargon like SME or SMB owners. No one ever sits down and thinks of themselves as "Oh, I'm an SME owner. I'm a small to medium enterprise owner." No one ever does that. They think of themselves just as a business owner or a business manager, or they think of themselves as someone who does whatever it is their business does, pool installations or whatever it is. So you need to set out some context. Paul Green: This is where marketing to a vertical or a niche again has more power. Because if you serve CPAs or accountants, as we call them in the UK, and you put the word accountant or managing partner of an accountancy practice in the start of your case study, that's a very, very powerful way of showing someone this is relevant to you. And the more relevant something seems to someone, the more likely they are to read it. And that's actually the second step. Paul Green: So our first step is to set the context of the overall case study. And the second step is to demonstrate relevance. You can actually do this in the same paragraph. This is a problem many business owners will face and one in four accountants will be hit by this in the next year. There we go. I've just set the context. And I've set the relevance as well. Paul Green: Now, the next thing we need to do is we need to lay out the problem. Let's assume that we're doing a case study on disaster recovery. So you would pick a client and you would interview a client or have a client interviewed on your behalf about a problem that they were facing. And let's say they had a major technology fail or they were hacked, or crypto locked or something like that. But the point is they lost data. And they were utterly cut out from their data. So you would lay out what happened. Paul Green: And in fact, the thing about a case study that makes it most powerful is when you turn it into a story because we love stories. Our human brains are very receptive to stories. In fact, if you tell us a piece of information just as a fact, compared to telling us that piece of information wrapped up as a story, we're dramatically more likely to A, listen and B, actually absorb and understand and remember the fact when it's wrapped up in a story than when it's just delivered as a dry fact. And this is because of the way our brains are wired. Paul Green: You see, our brains are still wired for caveman thinking and learning. 100,000 years ago, we didn't have paper and computers and ways of passing on information, we had stories. And so our brains evolved that when we were told stories by our ancestors, our grandparents whatsoever around a campfire, while we were all eating a bit of dinosaur, our brains remembered that. That was how we pass on information. These days, we pass on information in different ways, but our brains still love a story. Paul Green: So start a story, tell us the story, tell us about the business owner coming in to the office in the morning. And there's a red screen on every single computer in the office. And suddenly hackers have hit them. And they've taken their data and they've locked them out. And there's nothing they can do. And these hackers want 10,000 pounds or dollars in Bitcoin to unlock their data. And if you tell that from the point of view of the business owner who doesn't know about this stuff, who's never heard of the phrase crypto lock, who doesn't understand what it means, that's a really, really powerful story to tell. Paul Green: So, we've set the context, we've demonstrated the relevance, and we've laid out the problem. The next thing we do is we poke the pain, you take that pain, whatever that pain is, and you make it worse. You talk about how they go to check every single computer and there's nothing that can happen and they feel a cold sweat coming down their spine. You talk about how they go to check their backup, and they realise that the backup hasn't run for three days because somebody forgot to check that the backup was running. And you poke the pain and poke the pain and poke the pain. Paul Green: And you talk about how they can't do any work today because there's not a single device that works in their business. And the phones don't even work because their VoIP phones have stopped working for some reason. So they can't do business. They can't look at emails, they can't take phone calls, they're dead. Their business is absolutely dead in the water. Can you see what we're doing here? We're adding on layer after layer after layer of pain. And we're painting a picture of a business that's utterly, utterly screwed here. Paul Green: Whatever it is your case studies about, you can do this, you can push it and push it to the extreme. And this is why you get a writer to do this for you. Because you're less likely to be able to do this than they are. Then we present the answer. And the answer is something only your MSP can do. It's how you swooped in and saved the business. Don't get too caught up on the technicalities of what you've done because that's only of interest to you and to other IT professionals. Paul Green: But essentially, you jumped in, you came up with solutions, you gave them some options, and you saved the day. And presenting the answer is always the thing that makes your business the hero. Because that's really what we're trying to show with the case study. We're trying to show how someone was really, really screwed. And you swooped in, and you save the day, and wow you're the hero, well done, you. Actually, all you did was use your IT superpowers to save them. You could have done it any time. But you jumped in and you saved them. Paul Green: The final step is we show them a happy outcome. Because once you've saved them, you then go forward and you prevent them from having that problem again. Perhaps you put in place a better backup, you've put in place better systems to stop them from ever being crypto locked again, or whatever it is, you show a happy outcome. And a happy outcome isn't just what you do, the happy outcome is also what happens to their business. Paul Green: So if they had some problem communicating with their clients, and they couldn't run the business for a couple of days, six months on, they're actually growing at a faster pace than ever before because they've got more suitable tech to help their business. It's a happy outcome. Paul Green: Now, the very best case studies come from interviewing your clients, but with this outcome in mind. So you pick someone who's had a specific situation, you decide what it is that you want them to say. And then you ask the right questions to generate those answers. I would recommend that you do this in two forms. Paul Green: If you can, ideally, you would do this on video. You would get a professional videographer, you'd show them the kind of format that you want to get and that you want to get a three to four-minute video case study. And then you would get them to ask the right questions, the right open questions to draw this beautiful content out of your clients. Paul Green: Now, once you've done that for a video, you can then go and turn that into a written case study. But of course, you can't do that the other way around, can you? You can't turn a written case study into a video, certainly not a video that has the kind of impact that having a client on screen talking about how screwed they were. That is an incredibly high impact piece of content. Paul Green: The reason we want it to be high impact is we want to use this case study and other case studies to influence future prospects. There's a specific point at which we want to influence them. So sure we put these on the website. I mean the video, you could turn that video into a 60-second introduction video, which would go on your homepage. You could then have a more detailed case study, which does go into more detail, perhaps even two to three minutes. And that could go onto your about us page. And those are very powerful for persuading people that you can be trusted. Paul Green: However, where this really has the power is when you use it just before a sales meeting. Now, whether you're having that sales meeting in person, when you can do that, or over Zoom, you can influence people before you ever sit down with them. And in fact, this is something that's in Marcus Sheridan's book, the one that we were talking about earlier. They have a specific sales process that he lists in, They Ask, You Answer whereby their salespeople won't go and sit down with people unless those people have reviewed some sales materials before the sales meeting. Typically, those sales meetings are answering their frequently asked questions, and also showing them some social proof, some case study. Paul Green: This is something I've been pushing for years. Because we did this in our business, the one I sold four years ago, the marketing business I used to own. And it made a dramatic difference to our close rate. We produced a case studies book and a DVD. And the DVD was a group discussion of some of my clients talking about ways that they'd won with our help. And then we turn that into a case studies book. Paul Green: We used to send this out to our prospects before sales meetings and say to them, "Please, will you watch the DVD? And please will you read the book before we meet a week on Thursday?" or whenever it was. Those that actually did that, those that consume that content, we got a two in three close rate. Those that hadn't consumed that content, it was a one in three close rate. And no wonder because if you think about the power, again, of social proof, it's showing that other people are doing something it is safe. Paul Green: If you can get someone to consume your case study before you turn up to talk about their business and how you can help their business, they feel at an emotional level that yours is a safer business to deal with. This removes risk, and it's a very powerful thing to do. So your action then is go and find a writer. You can find someone on fiverr.com or try copify.com, plus, you've got the other outsource places like Upwork and PeoplePerHour. Find someone who understands case studies, tell them about this format. Paul Green: You can find the listing of it in the transcript for this podcast, which is on my website, paulgreensmspmarketing.com/podcast/episode35. There's the transcript, you can send them off to this and say, this is the case study format I want. When you interview my client, this is what I'd like, please. Either get a videographer or a writer to do that for you and turn it into a video, turn it into a written case study as well. You're ticking every single box for people consuming that. Paul Green: And then you've got to insert it into your sales process, and it must be systematic. It must go on a written standard operating procedure on a checklist that when someone has booked a sales meeting, the first thing that happens is your office sends in that video. It sends them out, ideally, a written case studies book because physical, remember, beats everything. If you can get it in their hands when they're on the toilet, they're much more likely to read it and it's much more likely to influence them. Systematically, add that to your sales process and you watch as your sales conversion rate goes through the roof. Voiceover: Paul's blatant plug. Paul Green: Content marketing has come up a hell of a lot in this week's podcast. And I have a service that can help you with your content marketing. It's called the MSP Marketing Edge. And what we do for a tiny, tiny monthly fee, we give you a whole bunch of content that you can use in your business. Now, I'll be honest, it's not intended for your website. And that's because we have more than 200 clients now. And if you were to put it on your website, and all of our clients were to do the same, Google would see that as duplicate content. But you can use it on your social media. You can use it offline, you can use it in a whole series of different ways. Paul Green: So we give you stuff every single month. We give you more stuff every single week. And we give you a series of tools. So monthly, you get a video, you get an educational guide, you get emails to send out to prospects and clients, you get social media content, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Remember that you can use this as your own marketing. Weekly, we give you more videos, another video you can use every week, and we give you fresh social media content. And then we've got a whole series of tools that you can use. Paul Green: There are tools like Campaigns In A Box, specific integrated campaigns to pick up prospects, and to pick up prospects and to turn them into clients. There's a plugin for Have I been Pwned. So people can check whether or not their email address has been breached on your website. And we've set it up in a way that you can use it for data capture. There's a book called Email Hijack. And this is a book that you can put your name on the cover and say that you've written it or co-authored it, whatever you're most comfortable with and use it in your area. Paul Green: It makes you an instant expert. And it's something that you can give away on your website in return for people's email addresses. Now all of this is a really, really low price. In the UK, it's 99 pounds a month in the US is $129 a month. You don't even pay for your first month, your first month is free, or it's a pound in the UK. And it's a chance for you to just try it out for a month. There's no contract, no commitment, you can cancel at any time. Paul Green: Here's the critical thing, we only sell this to one MSP per area. And that's because it wouldn't work if more than one MSP buys it. So if you want to see if this is available and just start your trial and just have a go at it, go onto the website. It's mspmarketingedge.com, pick the flag for your country and you can just pop your zip code in if you're in the States or your postcode in the UK to see if your area is still available. Paul Green: By the way, if you're not in the UK or the US and you look at this and you think, "Yeah, I like this. I'd like to buy this." Then just drop us an email. You can email hello@mspmarketingedge.com. We do sell this to MSPs in Australia, Singapore, I think. I know we've got loads of clients in Ireland and Canada and a scattering of other countries. I think we're in Belgium now as well in the Netherlands. So, we don't officially have versions. Paul Green: I mean, the difference between our UK and US content is obviously the US is a US voice and it's US paper size and US English. Whereas, of course in the UK, it's UK English and the UK voice. We don't do versions for Canada and for other countries. But we'll happily sell it to you if you're happy to take one of those versions and adapt it for your country. hello@mspmarketingedge.com If you want to have a chat about that. Voiceover: The big interview. Linda Rose: Good day, I'm Linda Rose. I am the author of Get Acquired for Millions: A Roadmap for Technology Service Providers to Maximize Company Value. I spent 25 years as Microsoft partner. I started two partner organizations. One was a consulting firm around ERP And CRM. And the second firm that I started was a hosting firm. We call it hosting back in the day, we, of course, migrate all that to cloud. And so both of those and learned a lot of lessons that I wanted to share with technology service providers. Paul Green: Now of course, you help people to sell their business and you only work on the sell side. That's a great book title by the way, and that's going to be the kind of book that comes up on an Amazon suggested email and you'd look at that and think, "I've got to have that kind of book." How did you come to write that book? And where did you get the title from? Linda Rose: When I retired... well, I thought I was going to retire. So in 2017, I sold my last company, I sold it for 100% cash, and I walked out the door 45 days later. I hadn't anticipated exiting that quickly. But the owner said, "Look, you have 98% recurring revenue. The customer base is not churning on us. You have a great team. We don't need you. So there's the door." And they really wanted to run the company the way they wanted to run the company. Linda Rose: So, I decided that I was going to go on a long backpacking trip. Here in the US, there's a trail called Pacific Crest Trail. It runs from Mexico to Canada and many actually, many Europeans and people from the UK come over and take this six-month adventure to hike this 2650 miles. Well, it was already mid-summer, I stuck around for a couple of conferences because I had some speaking engagements. So I couldn't really do 2650 miles but I thought, "Hey, if I could hike 500 miles, spend several weeks out in the wilderness, maybe I can figure out what I want to be when I grew up." Linda Rose: Because I decided in my mid-50s that I really really wasn't ready to retire. And my entire life, I always had a career and I never had not work. From sixth grade on I always had a job. There was never a point in my life that I didn't have a job. And so working was kind of in my DNA. Linda Rose: And so as I was hiking along this trail, I met another engineer out of the Czech Republic. And we started talking and I told him what I just been through. And he said, "You know what, you need to write a book about this." And I said, "You know what? I think you're right." And so 500 miles later, I got home and started drafting out what it is I thought other technology service providers would like to know as they prepare to sell their company one day down the road. Paul Green: So everyone wants to sell their business at some point. I'm fortunate enough to have sold a business back in 2016, which sort of took my life off in a different direction. And it's certainly most of the MSPs that I know it's there in the background. It's something they want to do one day. I know a lot of people will be thinking right now with the pandemic and the massive changes to the world economy that we're starting to see that the first hint of what kind of buyers are left in the current market? Is it still possible to sell a business in the next two, three years? Linda Rose: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I just wrapped up a transaction two weeks ago that started much earlier than this pandemic, but the transaction stopped because the buyer and the seller weren't comfortable with the final outcome. And then they took it back up a month ago. And we completed this transaction in three weeks. So right in the middle of the pandemic. Prior to that, three weeks earlier than that, I had completed another transaction, which I started last, I'd say, September. Linda Rose: So again, prior to the pandemic, a large national CPA firm that wanted to start acquiring technology companies, and we were down to the wire and they said, "Look, we still want to do this deal. We think this is a great company, but we also want to conserve cash." And so they didn't change the purchase price on us, but we took a little bit of the cash upfront and tacked it on to the note that we already had in place as well. And my seller was fine with that because the interest rate on the note was great. And so she just took a little bit less cash upfront but extended the amount on the note. Linda Rose: So, technology, thankfully, we're in an industry that, for the most part is doing quite well during this pandemic. Yes, there are partners that are struggling because they have a customer base or they're in a vertical that's struggling. But I would say for the most part, partners are making this work for them and some partners are actually excelling tremendously. So it's an industry that I think that will maintain itself and will be continued to be very approachable for buyers. Paul Green: And are you seeing different kinds of buyers popping up into the marketplace? Linda Rose: Absolutely. When I first sold my consulting firm back in 2013, there wasn't much private equity interested in looking in this space. But oh my gosh, that has changed so much now. I would say half the buyers out there are private equity firms that are either looking for that initial portfolio company, or they already have their main portfolio company and they're looking for tuck ins. So, additional MSPs or other IT providers that they can tuck into the main company and increase the value of their portfolio. Paul Green: I guess we've seen this with the big boys, aren't we? With Datto buying everything and ConnectWise announcing all those purchases not that long ago. So it's interesting to hear it's happening at the MSP level. Now bear in mind, we have listeners to this podcast from all over the world, from the States, the UK, I know Australia and some other countries as well. Are these more professional buyers only interested in the big multimillion-dollar or pound turnover businesses? Or are they interested in smaller businesses that might be let's say, just three, four, five people within that business? Linda Rose: Absolutely. I think if you are above the $1 million market revenue, even as a tuck-in, you could be potentially very attractive to a private equity firm because again, they're looking to round out their skills. So for example, let's say they already are in the security space and they're just looking to reach into another geography. And maybe you just don't have, you're not up there at five million in revenue, they will still look at you, especially if you have a good gross profit margin and a good bottom line. And I think that's really what it comes around to as well as of course, reoccurring revenue. Paul Green: So would you say those are the most important elements when it comes to selling the business? The gross profit, the net profit, and that recurring revenue? Linda Rose: Absolutely. Paul Green: What else would you recommend? Let's say there's an MSP listening to this who's thinking of getting out two to three years down the line, so they've got enough time to make some fairly hefty changes to the business. What other areas would you recommend that they look at? Linda Rose: A lot of the people that I've represented, and I don't care what size they are, I'm actually in the middle of a transaction where they're at 70 plus million in revenue, and they've just finally come off of cash basis accounting. And you see that a lot especially here in the US with QuickBooks and similar packages like that, where the partners are just running a business on a cash basis and are not doing matching of revenue and expense. Linda Rose: It's really hard to look at somebody's financial statements on the cash basis. I mean, that might be great for taxes. And it's great to match that with your checking account. But sophisticated buyers really want to see that true matching of revenue and expense. And they really want to see if you sold a 12-month contract that you're not recognizing it on the month that you sold it. So, I would say that would be one thing. Linda Rose: The second thing is that as much contractual revenue as you can have, the better. And it doesn't need to be a three-year contract either. That was one of the biggest mistakes. And the worst advice I would say that I got, when I sold my last company, I had a gentleman say, "Look, you need to have three-year contracts." And I'm like, "Look, all I have is one-year contracts right now. And the reason I haven't had my customers commit to three years is two reasons. One, it's less risk for them. And two, what if my vendor increases the prices, how am I going to compensate for that." Linda Rose: I found that as I was going out and looking at private equity firms and strategic buyers, the fact that I had a one-year contract, and that it was evergreen, meaning it would just roll over into the next year automatically, they were totally fine with that. But the more contractual revenue you have, the better off. Linda Rose: I would say the third thing is making sure that you document your organisational IP. I think a lot of partners don't realise that well like every partner really does have IP. Besides your logo, besides copyrights on maybe something that you've written, you have what's called organisational IP. Where you have quote forms that you've put out, different things, you've got videos, whatever the process of quoting, consulting hours, whatever it may be. Linda Rose: Those are things that help streamline your business, and to document that and show the savings in time and people's time is so important. I don't think many partners do that. So documenting that organisational IP is very key. Paul Green: Linda, thank you. How can we best get in touch with you? Linda Rose: I think the best way to get in touch with me is my website, and I do have a resource page on my website where anybody's listening to the podcast can pull down resources, take some quizzes, so I recommend they go to rosebizinc.com so R-O-S-E B-I-Z, I-N-C dot com. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast ask Paul anything. Ben Schneider: Hi, this is Ben Schneider from ITGUYS. Is live chat a good idea on my website? Paul Green: Great question, Ben. And the answer is both yes and no. Now it's yes because in theory, the more available you are to your prospects, the more likely you are to turn them into a client. And again, in that spirit of They Ask, You Answer, someone's got a question or query and we've all done it, haven't we? Where there's someone there on the live chat, it's a low impact, low commitment way to get an answer. Certainly these days we don't want to pick up the phone. Picking up the phone is a bit of a distressed thing to do. I had to do it yesterday, I need to try and find a lawyer that I can sit in front of, and sign some documents for a business deal I've got going through. Paul Green: And have you tried finding a lawyer that's actually sitting in an office right now and I had to ring law firm after law firm after law firm, and it was depressing. That's not how you do business in 2020. You just email people or fill in forms or use a live chat. And for that reason, live chat is convenient to your prospects, to your leads and to your prospects. And convenience is good. Paul Green: The more convenient you can be to them, the more likely you are to actually win their business. So for that reason, yes, live chat is certainly worth a look. However, the people most likely to use your live chat are not your leads and prospects, they're actually your clients and your users. I have a small number of MSPs I work with that have put live chat on their website, and I'll tell you which services they're using in a second. But most of the time, probably about three-quarters of the time the people that are chatting with them are their clients. Paul Green: So their users have gone to the website, ready to find the number, to call them for support requests. There's live chats, and they've just live chatted them. And that's a bit of a pain because obviously, once your user has live chatted, you've kind of got to persuade them to go through the proper channels without offending them. Because as far as they're concerned, you just go on the website, and you just talk to them, however, right? We don't want people live chatting, we want people calling the help desk or submitting a ticket, or whatever system you use. Paul Green: The other downside of live chat is someone's got to be there at the point at which they're ready to chat. And they're ready to chat sometimes at nine o'clock at night. In fact, again, you may find that people are putting in support requests and expecting immediate support at 10:00 PM on a Friday night. Because officially, you're closed, officially, you're out of hours. But look, your live chat is working on your website. So your users will go in, and will use that to try and get support from you. Paul Green: So there's a couple of ways around that. I mean, the number one way is you just switch off your live chat when you're not in-office hours. Downside of that is I mean, you'd probably be quite happy to have a text message or essentially a text message conversation with someone off your mobile at eight o'clock at night if that generated you a sales meeting. You'd be happy to do that, wouldn't you? Whereas you wouldn't be happy to talk to a client that's got a slow computer problem. Paul Green: So, there are swings and roundabouts of it, maybe you've got to educate your clients, or when your clients come through to it, you kind of play dumb. And you say, "Oh, I'm so sorry, we're an outsourced marketing company handling chat inquiries. And there are no technicians here, you'll have to go and submit a ticket in the normal way," or whatever it is that they normally do. That might be one way of doing it. Paul Green: But you have to make sure as well that when your chat hours are live, you are there to chat to people. The easiest way to do this is to have it on your mobile phone. And there's two services that the MSPs I work with tend to use. One is called Tawk.to, T-A-W-K dot T-O and the other one is called Tidio T-I-D-I-O. Paul Green: Now, there are dozens of live chat services around. But probably the vast majority, and I'm only talking a small handful of people that I know that are using it. Well, I know loads that have put it in their website, I've tried it, but only know of a small handful that have continued to use it. And the majority of those are using Tawk.to or Tidio, both of which operates off your phone, they're really easy to install into your websites. And when someone chats you, it comes up as a notification on your phone. Paul Green: And you can set the hours for live chat. And you can set all sorts of different support options. And one of them I think is Tawk.to actually has a service where they will answer your chats on your behalf, which seems like a pretty sensible thing to do, if you want to sleep and still offer up live chat. But it's one of those things that I don't know, it's not something I would absolutely recommend that you do. I do know people that have won business off the back of it, some of its break fixed business, but I also know someone who's won a proper MSP client. Paul Green: One of those things, it's worth you having a go. If you've got a little bit of spare time, and there's bit of spare capacity, understand that you're not going to get 1000 clients off it, but you might just pick up a new client over the next year. So the return on investment on that could actually be pretty good, certainly worth a try. Voiceover: How to contribute to the show. Paul Green: It was wonderful of Ben to send in that question to me. And I'd love you to do the same thing, please. Now, you can either do this off your mobile phone, just go on to the audio recorder and record a question or a comment for me. Or I've made it really easy, you can do it on my website. If you go on to the podcast page to the page for this episode, or any of the last few episodes, you'll see there's a little orange button on there. And you can press that button. And it will allow you to record a message directly on my web page. And then you can send it to me from my web page without you having to download any software or faff about or email me or anything like that. Paul Green: And I really would appreciate if you do send me a question or a comment. I listen to every single one myself, and I will answer every single question on this podcast no matter how hard you make it. So go on, send me a really hard marketing question, and I'll answer it in this podcast. And you'll have my eternal gratitude. Voiceover: Coming up next week. Greg Edwards: Lots of the new clients that we get have experienced ransomware attacks. So they're already aware that what they were doing was not enough. We explain, here's the different products that we use. We don't try to hide anything, but we don't over explain it unless they really want the details. Paul Green: That's Greg Edwards. He's the owner of an MSP and also the owner of something called CryptoStopper. It's ransomware detection software that he developed within his MSP and now sells to everyone all around the world. He's going to be here next week talking about what it's like as an MSP when you can see that there's a gap in the market. And you actually leverage that. You develop a solution that you can go on to sell to other MSPs. Paul Green: We're also going to talk next week about social media content, and specifically what should you be posting on a daily basis. We're also going to be talking about filming social media videos, and I'll give you my kit list. So you can copy what I'm doing and create really high quality videos very easily for your social media feeds. Paul Green: We'll also talk about a great content marketing tool that's delivered to your inbox every single week from one of the major vendors. It's a fantastic resource, and you can adapt it for your own marketing. See you next week. Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world, Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast.
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