Q: We have a lot of names in our database of customers and prospects, but most of the information is outdated, wrong, or missing. To grow our MSP, we really need to get this problem under control. How can we clean up this data as we continue to add new leads?
Maintaining a lead database with updated information can be tough. People leave companies, emails get updated, and phone numbers change. So staying in contact with potential prospects can be a challenge for MSPs. Whenever you generate new leads, you should consider collecting accurate contact information for future communications, because the truth is that most leads aren’t ready to buy on the first contact. With more contact information, you can nurture leads over time, but also have a better chance of staying in contact and making that sale over the long run.
To help set your team on the path for success, we consulted Richard Delahaye, the senior director of marketing at Intronis MSP Solutions by Barracuda. Building a great database won’t happen overnight, but little improvements can help restore the integrity of the data in your system. Richard shared his advice on how to strengthen your current data and tips on how to collect better contact information as your database continues to grow.
A team approach to maintaining your data
Maintaining and cleaning your database is just as essential as growing it. Often, companies will continually add new leads, but they neglect updating and maintaining the information they already have. To maximize your efforts, make sure all of your sales and marketing efforts are geared toward these two common goals: adding people to the database and maintaining the accuracy of that information.
Your sales people are one of your best assets when it comes to cleaning your database—they’re already on the phone with prospective customers on a daily basis. While someone might not be ready to buy right now, a salesperson can still quickly check and update the information in the system about that company. Whether it’s a new contact, a new office location, or a new email address, confirming contact information gives you the opportunity follow up in the future with different campaigns or promotions.
Of course, your marketing team should also take every opportunity they can to both add and update contact information in the database. And that means being consistent about the information they’re gathering from prospects. At a minimum, always ask for a name, phone number, email, and company name. For example, if you’re running a local event, make sure people are giving you those key things when they sign up. The forms on your website are also a good way to capture this information. Don’t be afraid to spend money with a Web designer if you can’t create or edit the forms yourself; it will be money well spent.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of the telephone when it comes to keeping your data clean. It can be time-consuming and seem expensive, but try to call everyone in your database each year as a courtesy check-in, and make sure all your information is correct. Often, people are more willing to give you information in this way than if they just think they are being sold to.
How to maintain database growth
Healthy database growth has two main components: the quantity and quality of people you add. While quantity is important, the ability to maintain the quality of those leads is just as important.
There are many online sources you can use to help build your database, such as local business directories, yellow pages, and Google. Google can be especially helpful if you’re looking for specific verticals, and a simple search can help uncover a large amount of those types of businesses in your area. There are also companies out there that can sell you lists of names—but buyer beware: it’s not the easiest business to be in, so the data you’ll get isn’t always the best.
Your website is one of the best assets when it comes to generating leads to grow your database, though, because it’s rare that people will hire your MSP without visiting your website. A strategy that works well for many successful MSPs is making sure their website is well suited for lead generation. This means your homepage clearly states what you do, the regions that you operate in and has forms to capture information from people who might be interested in learning more. When someone visits your website, they should quickly understand what you do, and what differentiates you from your competitors. Do you offer more experience in the IT field, do you offer a free trial of your services? Make sure this is clearly stated.
You also need to make it as easy as possible for people to get in touch with you, and figure out ways you can ensure them a timely, professional response. Is your phone number clearly visible? If so, will someone be available to pick up and answer the phone? If not, is there a friendly voicemail to lead them back to the website or give them an idea of when they will be contacted? Is someone monitoring your company email? If you have a general contact email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) make sure someone is responding to those emails quickly. Fact is if they are looking at your website, they are probably looking at competitors as well. If you are the first to respond, you have a better chance at winning that business.
Maintaining and developing a prospect database doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and sometimes you need to spend a little bit of money. Don’t give up, though, and learn from your mistakes. The biggest mistake that people make is thinking they can do a database refresh once and be done with it. The fact is, it’s an ongoing effort that never ends but it’s an essential part of any good sales and marketing operation.
Ask an MSP Expert is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between.