A common challenge for MSPs is lead generation. How do you find new prospects who are ready to talk about your services?

It takes time, money, and often, significant trial and error. Most MSPs rely heavily or entirely on word-of-mouth. It’s difficult. Many have spent too much money throwing things at the wall to see what sticks with their lead generation campaigns.

When done correctly, inbound marketing and digital content strategies can help MSPs. They not only capture new leads but ensure those leads are high-quality and ready to talk to sales. Let’s look at how the right strategy can make this possible and what pieces are frequently missing from an automated marketing funnel and holding existing campaigns back.

The typical MSP sales funnel

Before we look at how to fill the sales funnel, let’s first look at how well the typical model performs. The average marketing funnel is relatively short, especially for MSPs. Visitors on your website fill out a form indicating an interest in a consultation or sales conversation. They might get a short confirmation email to schedule a call, or someone calls them. But there are problems with this structure:

    1. It does nothing to qualify leads before sales are expected to reach out. This can mean a high percentage of low-quality leads eating into the time of your most valuable business development experts.
    2. It does nothing to capture leads who are not already interested in talking to you. Someone who fills out a contact or consultation form is ready to have a conversation. They’ve done their research and came across your site. It can be as few as 0.5 percent of your website traffic, and an even smaller number is qualified.
    3. You treat every lead exactly the same, regardless of where they came from or what they viewed on your website.

The result is mostly an ineffective funnel that pushes people directly into a salesperson’s CRM, where it wastes their time. It’s not ideal.

Building a better nurturing machine

How do you address the three issues and start capturing higher quality leads who are ready to talk to sales when you hand them off to your team? It starts with nurturing. Using automated emails and scheduled follow-ups, you can build your relationship with prospects. Why? To prepare them for conversations before a salesperson picks up the phone.

After a consultation or contact form submission, people expect to receive emails. The best way to push people into the email track is to offer free content and resources higher in the automated marketing funnel.

Think of the steps along the buyer’s journey before someone actually reaches out to talk. These are office managers, owners/operators, and operations managers. Your MSP buyers aren’t all technical people, but they know they need your help.

Your buyers likely researched specific questions about their needs; they’ve asked their colleagues and friends for recommendations, and they probably have a specific problem that needs a resolution. It’s what started them down the path to researching your services.

So, they search in Google, check on LinkedIn, and spend time on company websites downloading references, reading blog posts, and checking about pages. Is your site set up to handle that? The answer for most MSPs is no.

There is a summary of services, a couple of pictures of the team, and a contact form. It’s not enough for people in the early awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey. To solve it, you need a few things:

    1. Marketing offers – It’s downloadable content and resources you exchange for a user’s email address and basic contact info. These materials answer questions and help them move deeper into the funnel.
    2. Nurturing emails – An eBook download isn’t enough to justify a call from a sales rep if it’s a brand new lead. Rather than overwhelming your team with leads that aren’t ready to talk, you can send them emails. They can be more resources, contact info to schedule a call, and qualifiers. Ensure your buyers know what you do and if it’s a match.
    3. Brochures and case studies – At the decision stage, prospects will look for resources to help them determine if you are the right fit for their needs. Again, a consultation request isn’t necessarily the best option. Brochures, case studies, and video clips that show what you do and why you’re different can be a strong stand-in and capture more leads at an earlier stage.

The outcome is a better web experience that captures new prospects before they are ready to talk. Also, it nurtures them through automated emails and deposits them in the laps of your sales team when they’re ready to talk.

Building the right marketing funnel

With the right approach, your automated marketing funnel can handle a large portion of the process. Have quality content at the top that attracts new people to your website and a nurturing track that helps them answer questions.

You want prospects to learn more about your business. Qualifying them before spending valuable sales time on conversations is a must. Also, you can get more quality leads and grow your business more efficiently.

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Photo: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

Tim Kelsey

Posted by Tim Kelsey

Tim Kelsey is the Managing Director at Pronto Marketing. The company builds and manages professional websites and provides marketing services to MSPs and SMBs. Learn more at www.prontomarketing.com

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