Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast

Episode 71: Do you procrastinate? Get back to me on that one…

Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast
Episode 71: Do you procrastinate? Get back to me on that one…
/

In this week’s episode

  • When can cleaning the dishes suddenly become really appealing? Or when does Facebook become welcome, rather than be an annoying distraction? That’s easy – it’s when you’re procrastinating! This week Paul looks into why we let ourselves get distracted and what we can do to stay focused
  • Also on the show this week, Paul’s special guest talks about something that Steve Jobs used to transform Apple – the humble whiteboard – and how it could do the same for your MSP
  • Plus Paul explains why your MSP could grow faster if you personally work less. And there’s a listener book recommendation all about brilliant positioning

Show notes

Episode transcription

Voiceover:
Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world. This is Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
Hello, and welcome to episode 71. Here’s what we got coming up for you this week.

Mark Edwards:
Done in the right way by the right person, the combination of the visual element and the verbal is very, very powerful.

Paul Green:
We’ve also got a great book suggestion from a productivity expert, and we’re going to explore how you can avoid procrastination.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

Paul Green:
Have you ever asked why you find it so hard to stop doing so much yourself or why you find it so hard to outsource things to people outside the business or delegate to within your team? Well, it’s probably because you’re an intolerable control freak. And don’t worry, I’m an intolerable control freak, and let’s be honest, so are most other business owners. Why do we start the business in the first place? Well, partly it’s because we want to make a little bit more money, partly it’s because we want more flexibility in the work that we do, but really mostly, if you examine the deep psychological reasons that business owners are so driven, it’s about control. We want control over what we do. We want control over how we do it, and we want control over when and where that we do it.

Paul Green:
And what makes the control freakery even worse is when we discover in the early days that no one else can do stuff in the business as well as we can. This is the curse, isn’t it? It’s the curse of being the competent business owner. So you end up using your business owning superpowers to hang on to as many little jobs as you can. And even if you didn’t realise that you’re doing this, oh, trust me, you are doing this.

Paul Green:
Now, the ability to exert this level of control is actually what stops far too many MSP owners from becoming proper business owners. And they spend their entire careers as owner operators. So, where you’re actually doing the work in the business. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but after 10 to 15 years of that, you really need to grow both personally and grow the business. You need to let go and transition from being the owner operator to being just the owner, where the business is being run for you by people who actually working together can do a better job than you would do on your own.

Paul Green:
And yes, this hurts. It really hurts. It can actually lead to an identity crisis, but the reward for this is that you get paid very well to go and do lots of other things that you really like doing like golf, holidays, travel, owning other businesses, investing, whatever it is, but you also retain full ownership of your MSP. And to get anywhere near this goal, there comes a point where you have to truly start to let go and you have to accept that once you start involving and trusting other people, sometimes they will only ever do something 80% as well as you personally could do it, but that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay as it means that in the short term, you can focus your valuable time and energy on things that make a bigger impact on you, on your family and on your clients.

Paul Green:
And in the long-term, you can create a business that thrives without you needing to be there. So, imagine if you had this phone call tomorrow morning and it was like, “Hey. Hi, it’s your biggest client here. I am so annoyed that you can’t restore that file that I lost because our backup fell over eight days ago and you didn’t fix it.” And you have to say, “Yeah, I’m really sorry about that. I was so busy answering the phone and changing people’s passwords and scheduling social media and logging tickets and editing our printed newsletter and cleaning the kitchen and checking the invoices and fixing the automation link and tweaking the PSA and setting up new users. Ah, I just didn’t get around to checking your backups.”

Paul Green:
Now, here’s the thing. All business owners go through this and letting go of stuff, it’s a rite of passage because you do it slowly. You don’t do it just like that and walk away. You do it slowly. You delegate more to your team slowly. You bring in outsourced help slowly. And over a number of years, you just give more and more and more things away. Things that you, personally, don’t need to do so that you’re focusing on the things that only you can do.

Paul Green:
And then one day, you don’t turn up for a few weeks to the business and the business does better without you. This happened to me in my last business. The business that I sold five years ago and it hurts. I came back from a very long cruise and the business was ticking along just fine. In fact, it wasn’t just ticking along, it was thriving without me. They had won new clients. They had kept the existing clients happy. Everything was great. And it really does hurt for a short while until you realise that you’ve created something just wonderful.

Voiceover:
Here’s this week’s clever idea.

Paul Green:
Question for you. Do you procrastinate? Perhaps you can get back to me on that one. Yeah. That’s a kind of a dad joke that one, isn’t it? But we all procrastinate all of us and yet procrastination, it’s the killer of productivity and we have so many readily available distractions for us right now. And it’s really easy to give into those. It’s really easy to go in and just check your email or just have a quick look at Facebook or maybe for you it’s, “I’ll just have a quick look at the tickets,” or, “I’ll just see what my team are working on right now.”

Paul Green:
When we try to do something important and something that will actually build the business, working on the business, that’s when we’re most at risk of procrastination because it’s when we’re doing jobs that push us out of our comfort zone, where we’re doing something that we’re not necessarily good at, which you could argue the vast majority of business growth activities you’re not good at because you don’t do them regularly enough. And, certainly, I find myself when I’m doing brand new things that grow my business that I’ve not done before, I’m either really excited and super engaged with it or I find myself procrastinating and just checking my email and just finding other little things that I can do.

Paul Green:
In fact, with my daughter in homeschooling, as she was a few weeks ago, it was very easy to just nip upstairs and see how she was getting on with her maths, rather than actually doing the thing I needed to do. But procrastination is actually quite easy to beat. The secret to avoiding procrastination is so simple, you will not believe it. All you need to do is get started on a task. You see, once you’ve started a task, you are dramatically more likely to complete it because it’s going to be front of mind. It will nag at you and your brain loves completed tasks. It loves completed tasks and it hates uncompleted tasks.

Paul Green:
So, by getting started on a task, what we’re doing is leveraging something known as the Zeigarnik effect, which is named after a Soviet psychologist called Bluma Zeigarnik. She noticed that waiters who had taken orders, but not yet fulfilled the orders, were more likely to remember what the orders were. And then the second that they’d actually completed the order, they were more likely to forget it.

Paul Green:
Essentially, you can put it like this. You’re twice as likely to remember a task that’s been started and interrupted than one that you have completed. So it’s like our brain is carrying this constant tally of things that we have started, but haven’t yet finished. Do you know what I mean by that tally? It’s the unfinished tasks. They really do hang over us. So this is how you avoid procrastination. You get started. In fact, if you can find the time of day where you’re most likely to get started on something, for me, it’s early in the morning. I find it really easy to start new projects early on when I’m fresh and I’m raring to go, whereas afternoons and evenings, there’s no point in me trying to start something new there.

Paul Green:
So, when’s the time for you? Maybe you’re more like that in the afternoons or the evenings. Maybe you’re a night owl and you find it easier to start new projects at night. Whatever it is that you’ve got to do, that big thing that’s going to make a real difference to your business when you get started on it and when you get it completed, all you’ve got to do is get started. The Zeigarnik effect will help your brain to nag you enough that once you’ve started it, you will want to see it through to completion.

Voiceover:
Paul’s blatant plug.

Paul Green:
If you love this podcast and you want a deep dive into some of the subjects that we talk about here, then I put on a brand new live webinar every single month. It’s called the Live MSP Monthly Profit Booster. And you’re invited to come and join me on that webinar. Now, we’ve done about six or seven of them already, and we’ve covered off some amazing subjects. For example, we started by looking at how to create an MSP that’s there for you rather than the other way around. We looked at why your website doesn’t generate enough leads and how to fix it.

Paul Green:
Another one we looked at was why LinkedIn is so good for MSP leads gen, why your data capture on your website doesn’t work, and of course how to fix it and how to find, train and maximise a telephone person. So, every month it’s a brand new subject. I present it live and I guarantee it’s not content you’ve ever seen me do before. It’s a deep dive into the most important marketing subjects for MSPs around the world. So you can see what the next webinar is going to be, when it’s going to be, and register for free at paulgreensmspmarketing.com/webinar.

Voiceover:
The big interview.

Mark Edwards:
Hi, I’m Mark Edwards from Whiteboard Strategies and I help organisations deliver their value proposition using a Whiteboard.

Paul Green:
And it’s such a great sales tool, isn’t it? A whiteboard. You and I were just talking about before we started this recording about famous people in history who loved their whiteboards and love using it as a communication tool. And you’ve actually made a career out of helping people to sell using a whiteboard, haven’t you? Just tell us briefly about that.

Mark Edwards:
SO starting in 2009, as I said, prior to that, I’d done about 15 years of traditional consultative sales training for a lot of tech and teleco organisations. And then in 2009, kind of transitioned across into delivery purely on whiteboard training. So developing stories and story boards and illustrations that organisations can use and present standing at a whiteboard to their customer. And that’s all I’ve done for the last 10 or 11 years. Right now, it’s slightly difficult in lockdown times because whiteboards are also one of the tools that are typically locked away at this moment.

Paul Green:
Yes, they are. And we’ll come back to that in a couple of moments, but we were talking about Steve Jobs of Apple and how famously he used a whiteboard to set out the entire turnaround strategy for Apple when he took over. Was it the late ’90s?

Mark Edwards:
On his return, there’s photographs of him, but there’s also perhaps the best one. There is a kind of cartoon illustration of him, but supposedly what he did was he came in, realised… Well, he knew anyway that the product portfolio had grown out of all kind of shape and form, and was very confusing and complex and difficult for them to actually manage and present to a customer. So, he did a typical four box diagram. I mean, if you think about the standard four box, similar to a kind of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, similar to… I don’t know if you’ve ever read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits. I’m assuming you probably have at some point. But you’ll remember the urgent important matrix. So a four box matrix.

Mark Edwards:
Jobs on that occasion basically did a four box matrix. And I think, off the top of my head, on the axes. One was basically desktop, and the other one was kind of laptop, and one was consumer, and one was for professional. And that was the remaking of the portfolio of products that brought them back right from the edge to where are they now? One of the world’s leading companies. So, that was the very start of it. And he delivered that message consistently through the business for a number of years. So, it’s very powerful. Great tool and Jobs clearly saw that.

Paul Green:
And we’ve all used whiteboards in our business. I mean, I have a flip chart, which obviously is the paper equivalent of a whiteboard, but in various offices throughout the years, I’ve had massive whiteboards and they are such powerful communication tools. I can see why you would recommend that MSPs use them as a sales tool. So, what is it about a whiteboard that makes it so powerful?

Mark Edwards:
There’s a number of elements to it. I mean, the reality is, from the customer’s perspective. So if you’ve got somebody on their feet presenting at a whiteboard, first of all, just notice that they’ve taken a stand in front of the whiteboard and that alone captures attention. All of the focus now is on that individual and it’s up to that individual to now shape their message in terms of the narrative that they deliver, but also the whiteboard provides them with an opportunity to put a diagram to it. Whether they are mapping out a process, outlining some kind of a diagram in terms of technical infrastructure, the combination, the visual element, and the verbal is very, very powerful. Done in the right way by the right person.

Paul Green:
So this has worked very well for you for years, as you said, and then suddenly along came COVID-19 and the ability to go out and physically see people and use something as powerful as whiteboard has completely been shattered. So, Mark, what have you suggested to the MSPs that you’re working with in terms of transitioning from doing face-to-face sales to virtual? How has that changed and what’s working right now?

Mark Edwards:
The difference between virtual selling and face-to-face is really quite significant. And I think most organisations, although they were using Teams or Zoom or one of the other platforms, they hadn’t necessarily planned for the transition. And it was being used probably as a second strand means of engagement with customers. For those organisations out there and MSPs that have territory based sales, people that were used to actually going in and having that meeting with a customer where they had perhaps an hour of time plus they had all of the other niceties upon arrival at the customer site, a little chit-chat cup of coffee, get to know one another, see the whites of each other’s eyes and get that dedicated time, uninterrupted time, hopefully in a meeting room, all of that’s changed.

Mark Edwards:
I mean, the lengths of meetings now is typically shorter. The people that you’re going to be selling to, it seems as if they are going from literally one Zoom call to another Zoom call for a straight eight hours or more of a day. And the virtual environment is in many respects, very, very different. Very, very different and people are having to adjust to that. Now, in terms of the whiteboard because there’s a number of different elements with regards to virtual selling that you could look into. How do you establish rapport? How do you kind of conclude and close a meeting? How do you keep the meeting on track? Because that’s also quite challenging depending on the number of people involved, but the whiteboard effectively has been replaced by a screen share.

Mark Edwards:
So, if the whiteboard was the platform whereby before you would capture the customer’s attention whilst they’re listening to you and watching you present your ideas or map your ideas out on a whiteboard, the screen share facility and function is the same now.

Mark Edwards:
Now, there is a whiteboard function on there. I don’t know how you’ve used it or if you’ve used it at all, but technologically, if you think it was quite easy in the past, you just needed four whiteboard pens. You could probably bring them into a room with you and you’re away. Now, if you try and whiteboard virtually, you can do it and the set up that I’ve got here in my home office is exceptional. I can do all sorts of things by screen. Effectively, it’s like a graphics tablet as well. So, I am able to whiteboard either using Microsoft Whiteboard, the app, or oddly enough, I’ll use an awful lot of PowerPoint in terms of providing the desk space, you could say, on which to present.

Mark Edwards:
So, there is a way of transitioning across and having the same facility to sketch out and illustrate your thinking on a whiteboard, but you now have to have the technical tools, which… It’s not necessary to spend thousands. My setup here, I have a £2000 screen, a Wacom desktop tablet, which allows me to do all sorts of things, but you can go all the way back to about £50 for a tablet.

Mark Edwards:
So, you can do whiteboarding, but I think people need to know how to do it. They need to develop the necessary confidence. It’s not as easy as just picking up a pen and move into the whiteboard. You’ve got to be able to adapt, move into a screen share mode and then know how to present visually and articulate your proposition verbally at the same time. So, we can still try and get the same impact by having a visual live drawn diagram or illustration to back up our narrative. We can still do it, but it’s not as simple as it once perhaps was. But there’s definitely ways to do it. Many ways of doing it.

Paul Green:
As you say, it’s not the ideal situation, but this is how it is. And I think this is… Even with vaccines and stuff, this is how it’s going to be for some time. So, can you give us a couple of pieces of advice, Mark, of things that we can do when we’re selling virtually that would just make it easier for us to connect with people and get that emotional engagement that we can’t get from being face-to-face at the moment?

Mark Edwards:
What you really need to do is to ensure with your customer that the time that you’re going to be spending with them is well spent. Typical meetings now, I would say are now 30 minutes as opposed to an hour. Also, the customer’s attention isn’t captive. If you’re in a meeting room with a customer, face-to-face, it would be inappropriate and rude of them basically to be flicking through on their phone whilst talking to you. But oddly enough, realistically, that’s what’s happening right now when we’re dealing with people in a virtual environment.

Mark Edwards:
They’ve probably got multiple screens and maybe multiple feeds and they’ve got messages coming in. So, you really need to get very, very focused, clear with your customer about what it is that you want to achieve, and then you need to basically manage the time very efficiently and very effectively. So, setting out right at the beginning, what you’re going to be covering and given the time constraints, how long you anticipate being able to give to each one of those areas. I would also then add to that, try and make it as visual as possible.

Mark Edwards:
We’ve seen too much, I think, of kind of talking heads, not only in the workplace, but also if you think about even the news we see on TV at the moment, it’s just people sitting in bedrooms, typically in front of bookshelves, presenting their ideas. So, I would also suggest, use the screen share. Do bring up a small number of slides, maybe two or three, a maximum of six, and even then, you maybe just draw down on one or two of them. Be very judicious with your use of that screen share, but do take advantage of it. So, give the customer something to look at rather than just your face. As good looking as you may be, it’s definitely of value. If you want to get your point across… Again, without the whiteboard, do it visually and verbally, but without the whiteboard, use the screen share and probably if you don’t have a whiteboarding facility, use simple PowerPoint slides.

Paul Green:
That’s perfect. Thank you, Mark. Tell us a little bit more about your business and how we can get in touch with you.

Mark Edwards:
So, for organisations looking to either develop their whiteboarding capability or to improve the virtual selling skills and resources within their organisation, please get in touch at mark.edwards@whiteboardstrategies.co.uk. That’s mark.edwards@whiteboardstrategies.co.uk.

Voiceover:
Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast. This week’s recommended book.

Brenna Loury:
Hi, my name is Brenna Loury. I am the head of marketing at Doist. We are a fully remote company behind the popular productivity app called Todoist and a team communication app called Twist. I am going to recommend the book called Obviously Awesome by April Dunford. It’s a book on how to best position your products, no matter what kind of market they’re in. And it’s a different framework from what you’ll usually find if you just do a Google search on the internet about positioning and I found it very, very useful.

Voiceover:
Coming up next week.

Jason Kemsley:
Hey, I’m Jason Kemsley from Uptime Solutions and I’ll be here next week to tell you exactly what I’ve learned about customer service in my 10 years working in the MSP channel, and we’re looking after tens of thousands of users. So, it’s one not to miss.

Paul Green:
Also, next week, we’re going to talk about why you must hire a telephone person. Someone who’s going to make outbound calls on your behalf to build relationships with prospects and find that exact moment that they’re ready to switch from their incumbent MSP to someone new, hopefully you. And if you’re still engaged with doing a lot of break/fix work, or indeed you’ve got any clients who are on break/fix and they’re not on managed services yet, we’re going to talk about how to convert them. It’s really, really difficult. We’ll talk about the psychological reasons why someone that trusts you for break/fix might not be so interested in your managed services. And I’ve got a great suggestion of something called a trip wire to try and get them into the habit of paying you money on a monthly recurring revenue basis. All that and more in next week’s podcast. See you then.

Voiceover:
Made in the UK for MSPs around the world. Paul Green’s MSP Marketing Podcast.

 


Brought to you by Paul Green's MSP Marketing of Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast