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One of the most seemingly difficult tasks that every MSP must tackle is the art of finding new clients. The first step to building a proper sales funnel is to make sure that it is packed with qualified prospects. But it is not uncommon for MSP sales to find themselves staring blankly into the distance unable to come up with ways to turn up new leads.

There are many ways that you can find qualified leads for your company and here are a few that we have found work well:

Referrals

Referrals are basically the bread and butter of many managed services providers and it can be surprising just how many MSPs rely almost solely on referrals for new business. While referrals can often turn into excellent clients, it’s probably best to make sure that it only comprises a portion of the lead generation process.

Nevertheless, it is a good idea for an MSP to always remind their clients that they have openings for new customers. Offer incentives to your current clients such as discounts, movie tickets, or other gifts to thank them for any referrals that they might send your way. It’s also a good idea to do the “five doors up and five doors down” routine when visiting clients. Basically, when visiting a client you simply knock on the offices five doors up the hall and five doors down the hall and leave a flyer, brochure, coupon, or maybe even a gift of some kind to let them know that you are doing business in their building. (Make sure that this doesn’t conflict with the rules of the office building.)

Networking Groups

Networking goes hand-in-hand with referrals. Finding referral partners can go a long way towards establishing a steady stream of new leads to your business. A few important notes to remember:

  • Don’t invest too much time. It is very easy to sink way more time into networking then you get new leads back out.
  • If the group that you belong to isn’t sending you a ton of business then don’t be afraid to switch groups.
  • Make sure that you can explain the benefit of your business in one sentence or less. A 30 second elevator pitch is also important. Focus on how you may customers lives better and less on what you do for your clients.
  • Have a business card that makes people smile or even laugh. A business card such as the “Panic Card” will make people smile and help them remember you when they need you.
  • Spend the majority of your networking time in small group or one-on-one scenarios. People need to know you and be willing to refer you.

PPC / Advertising

Pay per click, pay-per-view, and other advertising methods are a vital source of new business. Each system (such as Google’s Adwords) has their own quirks and it is a good idea to find a course that teaches how to take best advantage of each method of advertising. Here are a few pointers:

  • It is important to give advertising a fairly long trial period because advertising often can take weeks or months to show any return on investment.
  • When working with online pay per click or pay per view, make sure to control your “negative keywords”. Searching for the keyword “IT support” sometimes may show up for the search phrase “support bra”. It’s important to review the searches that your company shows up in and rule out phrases that are completely unrelated to your business.
  • If possible (though, this is becoming more and more difficult) track which phrases people who contact you used when they first found your website. These are called “money words”.
  • Focus on building landing pages that provide immediate value such as white papers, testimonials, and help documentation. Your primary goal should be to get people on your mailing list so you can stay in front of them. Video can be very helpful here.
  • Just as in refining your keywords you want to make sure to refine your territory. Make sure you’re only getting searches within your area of business. Otherwise you will just be wasting money.
  • Finally, and most importantly, know your numbers. Take time to review your advertising budget. At first it is a good idea to do this daily, then weekly, and after you settle into a routine, you could back off to monthly reviews.

These three methods are the bread and butter of most managed services providers. In part two of this series we will share four more methods which are often overlooked. Stay tuned!

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