When looking to drum up new business for your MSP, you may often look toward one thing: lead generation.“Where is my next customer coming from?” you may ask.
Lead generation is not the end-all be-all of your sales and marketing efforts, but it’s certainly a great place to start. However, many MSPs report that they struggle with finding leads and turning them into new business. If you’re a small shop, it can be especially hard without dedicated sales and marketing teams.
In this ebook you’ll learn how to lay the groundwork for quality lead generation, and learn some methods that we’ve seen work for MSPs. Spoiler alert: not every marketing method is worth your time. No two businesses are the same, and different things work for different people.
Also, you should look at lead generation as merely a step in your sales pipeline. You have to also have a process for turning leads into customers. We’ll get into some numbers later, but understand this is the first step of your sales process.
What is Lead Generation?
Let’s dive in and start by defining what lead generation actually is in regards to your MSP.
Hubspot defines lead generation as the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company's product or service.It’s a pretty simple concept. There’s a large pool of potential customers out there, and you have to attract and convince them that they should, at the very least, find out more about your services. Then, it’s up to you to get them to the finish line.
When identifying your target leads, and you have this “large pool” of prospects, how do you decide who to target?
Well, if you specialize in certain industries (healthcare, manufacturing, etc) it should be pretty simple. Otherwise, look at your best existing clients to get an idea of what your ideal client persona is.
Planning your lead generation
Before you dive in to all the newest marketing methods and crazy tactics, it’s important to answer one question:
“How many leads do I need?”
It may seem silly, but we’re talking about spending money here. You should know how many leads you need to power your sales pipeline. Putting a plan together before you dive in is imperative.
Answer these questions about your current sales pipeline to figure out how many leads you need:
What percent of leads are you able to convert into customers? And how much revenue does an average customer bring in?
Putting numbers to these metrics will help you figure out how to delegate your time for marketing and sales.In addition, increasing your close rate will lower the amount of leads you actually need at a time to be successful.
After you have an idea of how many leads you need, it’s time to turn your focus on where you want to generate them. And this comes down to identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
Are you a good speaker? Think about videos and real-world events
Are you a writer? Turn your attention towards blogs, ads, and email.
Focusing on the methods that play to your strengths first gives you a higher chance of early success.
Should I pay for lead generation?
There are several, and I mean several, companies that will do “lead generation services” for you. Many promise big things, and many MSPs are asking, “Does it actually work?” and the answer I have to give is this:
It depends on how you interact with leads, the type of business you’re going after, and the quality of the lead itself. With most services you can expect around <1% conversion.
However, there may be other sources of lead gen to look into, like your vendor partners. For example, at Hook Security we are 100% channel only. So when we get leads for our security awareness training we pass them along to our partners.
Building Your Technology Stack
An important aspect of marketing and lead generation is being able to implement, measure, track and report on the success of your efforts.
Luckily there are tons of tools out there to assist you. A few types of tools to look into and get familiar with include:
Advertising platforms (Facebook Ads, Linkedin, Google Ads)
Tracking and Analytics tools
Graphic Design tools
Freelancing sites (to hire help if you need it)
Lead Generation Checklist
Before you go off to the races, go through this short list to make sure you’re prepared to WOW your potential leads:
Are my current clients happy? Do they have any feedback for me?
Does my website describe my services well?
Does my website have a way to collect leads, like forms?
Are my social media accounts set up and active?
Once you’ve got a plan, and the technology needed to collect and track your leads, you’re ready to start.
“Computer! Generate me some LEADS!”
The Lead Generation Process
Marketers love acronyms and diagrams, and with lead generation, it’s no different. The journey of lead to customer looks like this (thanks again, Hubspot!)
Lead “Generation” focuses primarily on the “Attract” phase of this journey. Your prospects don’t know you, and it’s your job to make that introduction.
Let’s look at a few methods of marketing that generate leads
Inbound Marketing is the idea of instead of going out and looking for customers, doing things to make them come to you. This can take the form of blogs, videos, ebooks, webinars, landing pages, etc. Basically, you create content and provide value to naturally attract leads.
Inbound can be incredibly effective, although it sometimes takes a while to get up and going. Good SEO doesn’t happen overnight, so you still have to promote your content on channels such as email and social media.
To start in inbound MSP marketing, think about what your potential customers are interested in, and what problems they have that you could solve. Then, start creating content in whatever medium works best for you that solves that problem and establishes your company as an authority and expert on the subject.
Inbound works like this: a potential customer comes to your website via google, social media, etc. to read a blog, watch a video, or check out your services. They then click on a Call-to-action (CTA) on your website to download a helpful ebook or whitepaper. They enter their personal information into a form on your landing page to download the resource.
Outbound Marketing refers to a more traditional approach to marketing, where you proactively reach out to potential customers, in forms of phone calls, email blasts, and advertisements.
While outbound marketing can be seen as an interruption, it continues to be an effective method to this day. Sometimes, no matter how much inbound content you create, some folks just won’t find out about you. You have to reach out to them for the first touch.
No method is necessarily better than the other. It’s all about what works for you. Normally a combination of inbound and outbound is a good approach.
For example, if you send an email blast out to a purchased list, and then a recipient of that email doesn’t respond but later goes on your website and fills out a form, you’ve gotten a lead through inbound AND outbound strategies combined.
Email is a great resource to reach your potential customers and can be done in a few ways. If leads come in through your website, you can use email to deliver resources and followup. For outbound methods, you can proactively reach out to people via email. Newsletters are another great way to stay top-of-mind with potential customers.
Social Media is potentially daunting to smaller MSPs due to the perception of how much time it takes up. But social is a great and easy way to reach customers. Paid ads through social can be very targeted and cheap, and posting your website content on social is one of the best ways to get traffic to your site. It’s also a place where you can speak more casually about your products, culture, and customer service.
Website and SEO
When it comes to lead generation for MSPs, the website tends to be the largest source of leads. After all, most of the other marketing effort you’ll do ultimately end up at your website. Your website needs to be very clear in what you do and what value you provide. It should be have clear CTAs to contact you. Whether it’s a demo, consultation, ebook, or just a general inquiry, it should be clear to the user how to move forward to the next step with you. Local SEO takes it even a step further by optimizing for your local market
Account Based Marketing
Account-Based Marketing is a newer method but very effective if you’re going after larger, substantial accounts.
The idea is to start by identifying your target accounts. Not characteristics of accounts, but the actual companies you want to target.
Then, you locate the decision makers in the target accounts and engage with them using both inbound and outbound methods. This could be as few as 5-10 accounts that you’re targeting. The goal is to land them by whatever means necessary.
You could be sending emails and calling them, but you could also be sending them pizza in exchange for a 15 minute demo call. Get creative.
Paid advertisements are, well, ads that you pay for. It could be a radio ad, billboard, poster, or digital, such as a facebook, linkedin, or google ad. Whereas the cost of most of the other methods above is time, paid ads take money. Now, that money can have a great return on investment when done right, so it’s important to know what you’re doing or have someone help you, such as a marketing agency, or an in-house marketing coordinator.
We’ve seen MSPs have a lot of success with Linkedin and Facebook Ads. Google is a competitive market, especially when advertising against searches like “IT services”, so the cost gets pretty high. However, social media ads like Linkedin and Facebook get MSPs a good ROI.
Retargeting Ads are a form of paid ad that only targets people who have already interacted with your brand, i.e. visited your website. These have tremendous ROI and helps pull leads along the buyer’s journey.
What To Do With Your Leads
You’ve done all this work to generate leads. Now what do you do with them? Nurturing you leads is arguably the most important part of all this. In most businesses, only about 1% of leads turn into customers. This is often due to lack of nurturing.
The term “nurturing” is used because it takes love and care to take a lead and build enough trust and value to turn it into a customer.
Depending on the “temperature” of your lead, there are various next steps you should take. For warmer, more interested leads, a phone call or meeting is a natural next step. If the lead simply downloaded an ebook, you might consider an automated series of emails to push them to the next step of the buying process.
The most important thing is to never let your leads die. While it often take 5-7 touches to even earn a conversation, most business give up after 1-3. If a lead doesn’t respond to your initial efforts, at the very least put them on a periodic email newsletter, or new email campaigns for other pieces of content you have.
Generating leads can have a massive effect on your MSP growth. With some moderate to intense upfront work, you can automate most of the process to both generate and nurture leads.
Where to begin?
If you’re looking at lead generation with glazed eyes and a blank slate, start by looking at you or your team’s strengths, and start there. Some lead with creativity, such as video, blogs, and voice, while others start with pure strategy, like advertisements and reports. Do what feels right to you, and don’t be afraid to seek out assistance.