27 minutes | Nov 2nd 2020

Episode 51: Stop dealing with clients: Work/life balance for MSPs

In this week's episode
  • Not all time is equal, especially the time you spend with clients. Yes they're the life-blood of your business, but you really need to spend less time dealing with them on a day-to-day basis. So you can focus more of your attention on growing your business. This week Paul explains how exactly you can do this and why it will improve your work/life balance
  • Also on this week's show, excellent practical advice on how to maximise the current trend in cybersecurity, direct from an expert in the field
  • The show is full of inspiration this week; Paul's joined by another guest with a great book recommendation. And he'll be telling you about a website for entrepreneurs you might get addicted to!
Show notes Episode transcription Voiceover: Fresh every Tuesday for MSPs around the world, this is Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: Welcome to a freshly baked podcast. Here's what's coming out of the oven for you, this week. Jennifer Bleam: Every sale is based on emotion. And if you don't engage the emotions, there will not be a buying decision. Paul Green: We've also got a great book suggestion for you from Steve Taylor of RocketMSP, that's coming up towards the end of the show. If you haven't got a free copy of my book yet, I'll tell you how you can get a copy. Plus, we'll be talking about something called AppSumo. If you've never heard of AppSumo, lock your wallet away because you're about to spend a whole lot of money on apps that you didn't know you really needed. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. Paul Green: Now, if you're the owner of your own MSP, you've probably got several jobs within the business. So, it's likely that you take an overview of all of the finances, of course, you're responsible for the sales and the marketing as well, if you've got an office then, obviously, you're responsible for keeping that up to date, staff development, recruitment, it just goes on and on and on. Oh, as well as keeping clients happy as well. And the day-to-day reality of that kind of workload for any normal human being is that you kind of struggle to spend quality time on any one activity. Such as, for example, if you wanted to spend a huge amount of time on sales and marketing, which is the single most important activity if you want to grow your business, you'll probably struggle to do that. It might be something that you can spend some time on every day, but perhaps not your primary activity on a daily basis. Paul Green: But here's a scary thought, you will always, always struggle to create a business that gives you the lifestyle and the income that you want whilst your main activity each day is doing anything other than focusing on sales and marketing, and I include client retention in sales and marketing. And client retention is not doing stuff for clients, it's doing activities which keep clients. So if your main activity every day is dealing with clients, is dealing with tech problems, doing tickets, sorting things out, then you're going to struggle to achieve the business you want within the timescale that you want it. So if you're serious about growing your business in the years to come, and we're not just talking about 2021, we're talking in the next two to three years, the trick is to find some of your time to work on the business rather than working in it. Paul Green: So working on the business is doing things which get you more new clients, that get your existing clients to buy more from you and they get your existing clients to choose to stay for longer. So all of these are things which grow the business. Working in the business is where you're busy caught up doing the day-to-day stuff, the stuff that needs to happen, dealing with invoices, dealing with tickets, dealing with admin, hassle, staff questions, all of that kind of stuff is working in the business. Paul Green: Now, I get it, you're probably the best technician that the business has got, and the clients probably love you. In fact, many of them have maybe dealt with you for a number of years, so of course they want to keep talking to you. But the rate of progress of your business will always be restricted by the amount of time and energy that you are personally able to put in. If you spend more time on business development, your business will develop faster. It really is that simple, there is that direct link on it. Spend two to three hours every day on business development, on growing the business, on the marketing and the sales and of course your business will get there faster, there is that direct correlation. Paul Green: Of course, I do realise that walking away from doing so much support work, I know that's not such a simple thing to do and it often does take several months to ease a business owner such as you out without having a negative impact on the business. But, I promise you, it will make a significant difference. Not only will the business perform better, but you will enjoy it more as well. You won't be so grumpy in the evenings because you've got to spend your evenings dealing with finances, with marketing, with your staff problems. This is a wonderful sector. And even with all the problems that we're all having right now, it generates new, highly trained and qualified staff every single year, so make use of that. Hire people, there is some great people on the market right now because they've been let go. Hire people, and if they're not right, fire people until you get to the right kind of people for your business. The right kind of people that can fulfil the amount of support work that you need them to complete so that you can focus your time on more important things. Paul Green: Don't get me wrong, it is vital that you stay in touch with your clients, but you've got to make sure that you get the balance right as well. Because working on business development strategies, well, that's an incredibly powerful use of your time. No one else is ever going to do that as well as you can do it. And as the boss of the business, the driver of the business, this is the most valuable contribution you can make to the future prosperity of your business. You should only do what only you can do. Voiceover: Here's this week's clever idea. Paul Green: I mentioned this as a side note in the podcast around about six weeks ago. And since then, it's been hanging as a task at the back of my brain that I really must tell you fully about it. What is it? It's something called AppSumo. And if you've never come across AppSumo before, then I'm afraid I'm about to ruin your evening because AppSumo is both awesome and terrible in the same package. So let me first of all explain what it is. Do you remember Groupon? I don't know if Groupon... Is Groupon still going? Sadly here in the UK, Groupon is not a big deal anymore. In fact, I can't remember the last time anyone said to me that they were doing a Groupon deal or going to eat out on a Groupon or going for a spa treat on a Groupon. It might still be going, I guess it's still going in the States. Paul Green: Well think of AppSumo as Groupon for entrepreneurs. So they have deals on software. And it's the kind of software that when you look at it, you think, "Oh, this is really interesting. I think I could use this, I could really use something like this." If I was to look at some of the deals that are available right now, so just as at time of recording they've got a unified platform for invoicing and accounting called Deskera, well, that's not really of interest to us because we can fix that with your PSA and an integration to Xero or QuickBooks or something. Paul Green: They've got a whole load of offers on... There's a CloudSocial which is a social media platform that would post, analyse and manage your social content, there's a WordPress portal deal, there's something called Volley which is fast track design review, okay, that's not relevant to us. Zook is a communications app, Client Joy to manage your leads, proposals and all that kind of stuff in one place. Oh, this is a good one, StickerMule Die Cut Stickers, get vibrant custom die cut stickers that show off your brand without breaking the bank, I'm going to have a click through to that one. There's something called Live app where you can broadcast live, SmartTask which is a project management thing, there's idea after idea after idea. And what makes each of these unique is you get a deal. Paul Green: So if we take that SmartTask that I was just looking at, let me click through to have a look at that. So it's got the price $360 crossed out and it's got a buy now price starting at $49. And these are genuine prices by the way, and I know this because I buy a lot of stuff from AppSumo. So you will typically get a year or a couple of years or even better a lifetime deal at a certain level on this software for the lower price. And AppSumo is pretty good at filming videos to show you what the software does, it breaks it down into what it's good at and what it's not good at, there are some usage cases in there, they give you a hell of a lot of information to show you why you should invest in this app. And when you look at something like this and you think, "Do you know what? It's $49 for a lifetime deal on this, I'm going to give it a go." And if you don't like it, it doesn't really matter. Paul Green: Now, you can actually ask for a refund, the vast majority of things that you buy from AppSumo, you can get a refund on it if it turns out not to be quite what you'd hoped it would be. And again, that's just their way of de-risking it for you, they're trying to encourage you to buy more apps. Let me reveal how AppSumo is able to do this. Now a couple of years ago, it was a little bit different, I imagine they were the ones that were going out trying to get the deals. These days, lots of early stages apps come to AppSumo and they're actually using it as a kind of funding platform. Paul Green: So they will build a proof of concept, a just slightly better than beta version of their app, then they'll go to AppSumo, they'll sell 10,000 memberships at $49 a time, I would imagine AppSumo takes a fairly hefty percentage of that, but suddenly this new startup company with its new beta app, well, they've got a whole load of essentially beta testers who've paid to be involved and a whole load of cash in the bank so they can fix everything that's wrong and they can actually start to turn it into a decent product. Paul Green: So some of these deals that are on AppSumo, they do come with a bit of a buyer beware because you are essentially buying into early stage apps, but there are lots of mature products on there as well. Depositphotos comes up once a year with a really good deal where you can buy a whole load of stock images, dirt cheap, which is always, always oversubscribed. And it is worth just having a look through and seeing what they've got every day. They do add new stuff all the time, and make sure you join their email list, they email out their best offers. Paul Green: But as I say, this does come with a warning, I must add up how much I've spent with AppSumo but it's getting on for thousands, thousands of dollars. And I found some amazing stuff in there, in fact, there's three or four apps that I'm still using day-to-day in the business right now. But there's probably more apps, well, some in there that I've never used, which is a little embarrassing to admit, but something there that I tried, it wasn't quite right for me, I've never really asked for a refund, I'm not really that kind of guy to do that. I think if you get an app and you try it and it's just not quite for you, I don't believe the app should be punished for that. So I don't personally ask for refunds, I know lots of people that do, that's fine, you do whatever is the right thing for you to do. But go and have a look at AppSumo, it's appsumo.com, we'll put a link to it in the show notes. At the very least, it gives you ideas of things that sometimes you didn't even know you could do. Voiceover: Paul's blatant plug. Paul Green: Right. Come on, if you haven't got a free copy of my book yet, what have you been doing? It's a book called Updating Service Doesn't Grow Your Business, and it's the quick guide to getting started on MSP marketing. The thing is, if you're in the UK or the US we will ship you a physical paperback copy at no cost to you whatsoever. There's no catch, you don't have to put your credit card in, there's none of this "pay a dollar for postage" and then we're trying to upsell you, there's none of that. What I'm actually trying to do is start a working relationship with you. And the fastest way for me to do that is to physically get my book into your hands. I want to invade your toilet time. If I can get half an hour of your time on the... Yeah, I know that's weird. Half an hour of your time on the toilet, it means that you can see what I've got to say and the chances of us doing some business down the line, well, you never know. But there is no obligation to buy anything ever. Paul Green: So just get a free copy of my book. As I say, in the UK and the US we ship you a free copy and everywhere else in the world we'll send you a free PDF copy. All you got to do is go to my website, it's paulgreensmspmarketing.com/book. That's paulgreensmspmarketing.com/book Voiceover: The big interview. Jennifer Bleam: Hello, my name is Jennifer Bleam. I'm the Cybersecurity Sherpa and I help IT companies, MSPs and technology service providers figure out their cybersecurity packaging, pricing, sales and marketing strategy. Paul Green: So you must be one of the most in demand people on the planet right now. Jennifer Bleam: It is quite busy, that is true. Paul Green: Because cyber security is obviously the hot thing to sell. The end user and the end decision makers might not know that they need it as much as they do, but obviously MSPs know that cybersecurity is a massive thing. How long have you been doing this, Jennifer, and what kind of change in the trends have you noticed over the last couple of years? Jennifer Bleam: Yeah. So I have been doing this on my own for about a year and then prior to that I was part of a cybersecurity company that sold into The Channel and we realised that part of our challenge was helping IT companies sell our solutions. So all told, on the cyber side about three plus years, in the IT side, man, I'd have to say 20 years which dates me significantly. I was two when I started, we'll just say that. And changes in the trends, obviously of late, the biggest thing is the work from home trend, that's a bit of a challenge. The happier trend is that these small business owners are finally having some level of awareness on the fact that cybersecurity maybe is not just this fly by night thing that the technology salesperson is trying to sell them. And so there's at least a bit of awareness that it's maybe needed and maybe not necessarily just this fluffy thing that's going to pad the pockets of the sales person. So, that's a great change. Paul Green: So for an MSP that wants to sell more cybersecurity services and do more with their clients, what are some of the basics they need to get in place first? Jennifer Bleam: Yeah. Great question. Because I talked to a lot of companies that are seeing the trends, they realise cyber security is the big thing, it's a huge opportunity, and so they immediately jump to cyber... I always encourage people to make sure that they are laying a very solid foundation. And they are the basics, making sure that you're patching machines, and I don't just mean set it and forget it, go back, trust but verify, make sure the patches are actually happening, make sure you have done the basics like tightening up RDP ports. RDP port hacks are still one of the biggest things that we are seeing and even though we've been trumpeting it for probably five to 10 years now, we still see open RDP ports. Make sure your clients have very solid backup, know how to sell and just the basics of sales and marketing because the fundamentals are the fundamentals. To some extent, it matters what you're selling, but make sure you've got a very solid foundation with your offering and with just simply your business savvy. Paul Green: And, I guess, if you're confident about the cyber security offering that you've got, you'll be a lot more confident when you come to selling it. So what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see MSPs making when they're trying to sell cybersecurity? Jennifer Bleam: So the biggest mistake I see is trying to sell the technology. And so what I mean by that is they walk into the small business owner and they say to that entrepreneur that you need blank technology, it could be DNS protection, it could be EDR, MDR, we need to put in a new solution with machine learning or artificial intelligence. And, yes, that is the way that we all buy technology, but we are technologists, and it's so important to remember that the person you are talking to, whether it is a prospect because they've never paid you for anything or they are a prospect because they're an existing client that has never bought cybersecurity from you, they're still a prospect. And that prospect typically does not like technology, that's why they have you on retainer, that's why they have you as their trusted advisor and you're doing quarterly business reviews or periodic business reviews, they don't like technology. Sometimes they hate it, they barely tolerate it, and then you walk in and you try to sell technology. Jennifer Bleam: And either their eyes glaze over or they throw out objections that are really smokescreens for, "I don't understand the words you're saying and now I feel ignorant." And whenever we feel ignorant, we attack, we push outward and we throw out a sales objection. And so I always encourage people do not sell the technology, don't go in and say, "We need to upgrade your DNS solution." Because it's going to bring up a ton of objections and they're going to ask legitimate business questions that you, the sales person, are going to interpret as objections. Jennifer Bleam: So sell the business implications of what could happen if you don't get this fixed. What is the risk to the business owner? What does it look like if they have downtime? And I use the word downtime but even that word needs to be translated so that the business owner understands. Because we understand intuitively what is downtime, what is lost data but we need to translate that to the person we are talking to. So downtime means you are not able to answer your phone, you can't process payroll, you can't send out payments, you can't receive payments, you can't send out invoices, you can't submit proposals, you can't track your time, you can't document, you can't call your patients to tell them they need to come into the office tomorrow or the next day. So we have to unpack these words that we use in the industry like downtime and lost data, what does that really mean? And explain to them that is the risk that we are mitigating by putting in new, yes, technology solutions. Jennifer Bleam: But they don't care what the technology solutions are, they don't care about the speeds and the feeds and all of these acronyms that we throw around, they care about keeping their business up and running and moving quickly. Paul Green: But is it possible to scare these ordinary business decision-makers, these ordinary owners and managers, is it possible to scare them too much by talking about the things that could go wrong? Do they kind of disengage with that because they don't believe it's real? Jennifer Bleam: I suppose it is possible to scare them too much, and there's a lot of chatter about I don't want to use fear, uncertainty and doubt. There is a difference between fear-mongering which is creating fear of something that probably will not happen, so it's, "I'm afraid a bear is going to run into your office and steal your server." Well, that's fear-mongering and probably you couldn't convince the end user of that being a realistic fear, anyway. But this is a very real danger, this is a very real fear, and so there are definitely ways to have that conversation in such a way that you are being a business advisor and it's really that consultative selling. Jennifer Bleam: And it's important to remember that every sale is based on emotion. And if you don't engage the emotions, there will not be a buying decision. It is impossible for us as human beings to make a decision without emotion being involved. And unfortunately, cyber security, it's not really a positive emotion. In other words, I can't paint a rosy picture of that future with unicorns and rainbows, I have to paint the picture of the fear that you should have as a business owner if you don't do anything to address these concerns. Paul Green: Now we're talking my kind of language. This is exactly what we've talked about before on the podcast that people make buying decisions based on what their emotions are telling them, not what their brain is telling them because, of course, they don't have the cognitive ability to tell if you're a good MSP or a bad MSP, or if you know what you're talking about or don't know what you're talking about. And by the way, I love the idea of the bear coming in and stealing the server, that's a fantastic visual picture that one. What are some of the objections that ordinary decision makers throw out, Jennifer, and how can you overcome them? Jennifer Bleam: So one of the biggest objections is, "I don't think this could happen to me." Or, "I think I'm safe." Or what you just said which is, "Well, I think you're just trying to scare me and get me to buy something." And that's not exactly what you said, but it's the disbelief that this really could happen to them. And the best way to overcome that is twofold, number one, share real stories. And if you don't have a story for yourself from a client or a prospect that you've talked to that had a breach or a ransomware attack, then talk to a colleague, they will be happy to share the stories with you and then you can share those stories, real-world examples, with your client, your prospect and help them understand this really is a real danger. Now that's the ideal, the ideal is that you walk in and the first time that you have this conversation, they will immediately realise that what you're telling them is a legitimate issue and they do need to address it. Jennifer Bleam: But the reality is that some people do not make decisions quickly. And whether that's the way that they're wired or their parents told them, "Never make a decision unless you sleep on it overnight." Or they simply need time to process because that is just the way that their brain works, I never want to encourage you to say, "It's my way or the highway, you must make a decision this moment." Certainly do your best as a salesperson to help them make that buying decision today, but always realise that you can come back to a client at the next quarterly business review, recognise that you're going to be supporting the sales conversation with your marketing. And so marketing and sales while they are different, they are really two sides of the same coin, they're kind of the yin and the yang, if you will. Jennifer Bleam: And so you've just told someone, "This is a very real and present danger." You've helped them, you've asked good questions, you've had fantastic dialogue, and for whatever reason, they're just not ready today. And we've all seen this with selling BDRs, right? We would go back out, we would have to sell BDR as an add-on because it simply wasn't available when we closed the contract the first time, and some people immediately understood and they bought. Other people, it took them a year, two years, three years. And that's not the fault of the salesperson necessarily, although I certainly want you to do your best, but it is a matter of they hear you but they don't necessarily believe you or they don't have the budget or it's just not the priority today. Jennifer Bleam: And so that's where your marketing comes in, where your marketing is continuing to give them that same messaging and share maybe a statistic here and there, I don't want you to stat people to death, but share statistics, share stories, share real-world case studies. I keep giving people this idea, I think it's brilliant, no one's taken me up on it yet, perhaps it's not as brilliant as I think. I think it would be a phenomenal video for you, the MSP, to interview a couple of people in your town that were hit by a ransomware attack or a breach and put them in shroud where they're in that black shadow, the shadow man, shadow woman and change their voices so nobody knows who they are, come up with fake names for them and interview them about what it was really like, and put it together into a little six minute montage. Jennifer Bleam: And done correctly, you will have the hair standing up on your clients and prospects, their neck, their arms, they will completely freak out because I do that every time I hear these stories. And I say, "Well, what was it like and what are the things that you didn't expect? What did you expect that didn't happen?" You just interview them very quickly and then merge all of these stories together, and now this is real world stories from your town about cyber incidents. And that will start to help put a face on it, even if you can't see the face of the person, will help them realise this is real and this is happening to small businesses around me and maybe I really should pay attention to it. Paul Green: Officially, that is a genius idea. It is absolutely brilliant. It really is a brilliant idea. Jennifer Bleam: I'm telling you. You know what? Maybe I need to up the stakes a little bit and like buy someone a gift card or something the first time they do it because I know that it would work. So, somebody do that and then reach out to me, I'll send you a gift card or buy you something off your Amazon wishlist. Paul Green: Jennifer, how can we get in touch with you? What's your website address? Jennifer Bleam: Best place to go is cybersecurityroadmap.com and download that. I will then show up in your inbox every single day for about a month and walk you through the process that I use to help my clients take cyber security to market. So, cybersecurityroadmap.com. Voiceover: Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast. This week's recommended book. Steve Taylor: Hey there, I'm Steve Taylor with RocketMSP. The book that I recommend is Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! Four Keys to Unlock Your Business Potential by Greg Crabtree. The thing that I really liked the most is that this CPA is talking to us in a way that I feel no CPA has spoken to us before. Instead of saying reduce the amount of taxes you're paying by spending all of your profits on things that you can expense, he's saying maximise the taxes you are paying by keeping the profits, so that way you can truly pay yourself a fair and reasonable wage as a business owner. Voiceover: How to contribute to the show. Paul Green: I'd love to know what you think of the show, the bad things, as well as the good things. Why not drop me an email? It's me at the end and I will reply to you personally, hello@paulgreensmspmarketing.com Voiceover: Coming up next week. Andy Edwards: They don't trust their leadership. So the question here is, are leaders delusional or are staff complete and utter liars. Paul Green: That's my friend, Andy Edwards, he's a leadership and staff development expert. In fact, I had him on the Podcast around about a year ago, I think it was episode two. And a couple of weeks ago, I visited him in his garden in the lovely seaside town of Bournemouth here in the UK and we sat in his garden for a few minutes and just talked about why your staff whinge. And he's got some quite interesting insights into why staff behave the way that they do and what you as a leader can do to help them and of course help your business at the same time. So, that's coming up next week. We're also going to be talking about why people buy. Do you think they're really interested in that security stack that you've got or that particular technology? They're not. They're only interested in outcomes. We're going to talk about the kind of outcomes that ordinary clients are interested in, next week. We've also got a book suggestion from R. Michael Anderson, and we're going to be talking about the critical difference between a marketing strategy and marketing tactics. See you next week. Voiceover: Made in the UK for MSPs around the world, Paul Green's MSP Marketing Podcast.  
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