Most good things in life rely more on hard work and due diligence than luck, and sales are the perfect example of that philosophy. It typically requires a solid plan, a good amount of effort, and proper execution more than just rolling the dice. When things go well, the organization will have the resources needed to expand and prosper, and one of the key ways to ensure success is through discipline.
Building a practical sales funnel is a critical first step in growing. In the early days of an MSP business, that process may not exist; with new prospects primarily coming from an occasional client referral. Today, relatively few providers employ a full-time sales and marketing staff, with owners and other employees fielding questions and working on landing new contracts without official training. As those organizations gain clients and start to build out those functional areas of their operations, they need to be more proactive with the prospecting process, which is where sales funnel management comes into play.
Why building a sales funnel is important for MSPs
MSPs that get through that first stage− moving from a one-person or small shop to a more scalable business – still face many obstacles. The first is building out a viable services portfolio and team to support their various clients. Constructing the outward-facing operations, including sales, marketing, and all the required managed services contracts, comes next.
Team building is critical and where many fall short. MSPs need experienced professionals to construct and manage their sales funnels, “priming the pump” with quality leads to close as many profitable contracts as possible. Attracting top talent is much easier when a company can demonstrate its commitment to success, and having a vibrant sales funnel is the perfect example.
Virtually every successful MSP backstops its team’s efforts to ensure a steady stream of viable prospects. The best way to overcome the typical closing process’s peaks and valleys is to create strong sales funnels that provide the firm with a constant flow of good potential business prospects. Keep those teams productive and hungry for the next close also boosts employee satisfaction and retention. There is a proven correlation between sales funnels and workplace fulfillment.
So where do you start?
Follow the metrics
Inbound lead velocity is one of the key measurements for an MSP. This sales funnel-related objective is critical for providers, ensuring that they are growing the number of opportunities available to their team month over month. The lead velocity metric also allows MSPs to better predict their future recurring revenue streams since that statistic is typically not affected by seasonal fluctuations.
While the skills of the sales team can alter things at the latter end of the sales funnel, most providers would rather deal with an overabundance of prospects than not have enough opportunities in the CRM system. A strong inbound lead volume is a productivity solver. Expanding the team with experienced sales professionals is easier than identifying new prospects.
Solid investments in marketing and business development activities, as well as an effective strategy for managing each opportunity, are essential for creating a strong and effective sales funnel. Those activities provide employees with the resources they need to close more contracts and gain additional revenue from each current and prospective client.
Feed the sales funnel
The objective of sales and marketing investments is to drive steady revenue growth. The lead velocity metric helps an MSP assess how well those activities are fueling their sales funnel. That vital statistic provides management with insight into their future sales projections: if the quantity of potential opportunities begins to drop, they may need to step up investments and activities.
Analysis of future-looking trends is crucial. MSPs cannot afford to get caught tracking only the lagging indicators of their activities, especially those that affect their sales funnel and upcoming revenue opportunities. As with any business, they may require frequent adjustments to keep income and profit levels moving upward.
Those are just a couple of reasons why MSPs must monitor all the activities that can affect their sales funnel. From marketing-related campaigns to ongoing engagements with prospective clients, providers need to keep a close eye on the metrics that can truly predict their future success (or failure).
Enhance sales and marketing activities
What are some of the other ways MSPs can influence their sales funnel and create new revenue streams? Strategic investments in sales and marketing are the most effective way to move the needle, but which activities provide the greatest return? MSPs frequently employ some of these tactics to enhance their sales funnel.
MSPs cannot prosper with a referral-only growth strategy. Businesses must tell their story and educate prospective buyers and use a variety of lead generation methods to increase their sales funnels today. Sharing a constant stream of valuable content with a firm’s target audience will not only raise awareness but boost engagement with prospective clients. Adding blogs and videos that link back to the company website are great first steps. Targeting specific prospects with focused whitepapers and eBooks helps boost MSPs’ expertise and sales funnels (when properly utilizing lead forms).
Create Awareness Campaigns For Multiple Targets
Promotions drive sales. A good way to get slow adopters to take action is to offer them a targeted incentive. That may include providing prospects with a free cybersecurity evaluation or a 10% discount for signing a twelve-month services contract. Shorter-term inducements include branded promotional items or research reports for filling out a lead form (a great boost to the sales funnel). Deliverables that appeal to the targeted audience are usually a great way to generate interest and leads!
Boost SEO Programs
Businesses live or die online today. The value of search rankings continues to increase and effective SEO strategies are a sure way to add quantity and quality leads to an MSPs’ sales funnel. Investing in keywords and phrases and optimizing every possible section of a company’s website, from content and images to connected links, will improve its ranking on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other platforms. Those actions, in turn, will strengthen the firms’ sales funnel.
Embrace Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter are becoming essential communications platforms for the MSP community. Sharing events, news articles, tips, promotions, and other valued content that speaks to a managed services firm’s business, especially those connected to their company website, can indirectly fuel their sales funnel. Whatever they can do to get a site visitor to fill out a lead form will help the MSP’s growth. Carefully crafted and properly implemented social media programs increase awareness and engagement and feed the sales funnel that feeds new business opportunities.
Optimize Landing Pages
While many may scoff at making frequent website revisions, those activities are essential for keeping an MSP looking innovative and successful today. Online improvements can significantly strengthen lead generation and add a major boost to their sales funnel. Adding search-optimization plugins, keyword-rich text, meta descriptions, title tags, and other features to a website can vastly improve its online rankings. Web developers can evaluate and upgrade current pages, adjust content to bolster SEO rankings, add links and lead forms to articles and sections, and enhance visibility with target audiences.
Focus on the health of your sales funnel
Strengthening the lead generation process should be a top priority for every MSP today. A healthy sales funnel is essential for meeting revenue and profitability goals and growing the business.
The list of potential activities in this article is by no means all-inclusive. Innovative MSPs leverage every potential tool and all available resources to drive the leads that not only fuel their sales funnel but maximize their profitability and customer satisfaction. Listening closely to gauge the needs of clients and prospects makes that possible.
MSPs who adapt their activities to current and future market demands typically have no problems filling their sales funnels. They leverage targeted promotions and optimize SEO and content to maximize awareness as well as the return on their marketing dollars.
There are many resources available to boost an MSP’s sales funnel. Leveraging peers, vendors, distributors, and third-party marketing experts to bolster those activities is also an option. Developing a solid sales funnel is easy with the right plan and good people to make it work.