Better Marketing with Standard Operating Procedures
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
No doubt you’e heard others talk about them when it comes to marketing. But have you ever wondered how to apply them yourself? Have you ever wondered why they are more effective than other methods when it comes to MSP marketing?
For insights, I turned to Raj Goel from Brainlink International. Raj’s company is a New York area solution provider that helps customers get the mot out of their IT investments. It works with important clients who work in financial services including private equity, construction and property management. I reached out to Raj for his view on SOPs. Suffice to say he had plenty to say about marketing and SOPs.
In our conversation with Raj (you can listen to our recorded webinar interview here), I found out that Brainlink International doesn't get customers from ads or off the street. All of its customers are either established customers or referrals. The referrals come from customers he and his company knows well. Through understanding a client's culture and knowing people within that company by networking and SOPs, he is able to find new customers through his most trusted customers.
Here are several ideas that we discussed that might stimulate your thinking when it comes to SOPs:
All Businesses Are IT Businesses
"Every business is an IT business," Raj says. This is because technology is part of everyone's day to day life, whether it is typing up a memo, going through voicemails, or working on adding clients to a database. Businesses need IT to run.
This is crucial because it is part of marketing. The person at the PC or Mac level is the one who is going to tell the people in charge whether or not the particular company is good. They bring their experiences to their superiors, who are the decision makers. It's not just the decision makers you need to market to, but the person who is doing the everyday work. They're going to tell the people who make the decisions what they should do.
Talk to Potential Clients What Is Important to Them
The problem is that potential clients want real solutions to real problems, which isn't how Information Technology is managed. Most people in IT talk about the hardware or software, and that isn't what people are looking for. Instead he likens it to buying a pizza from a pizzeria. Unless they have really unusual ingredients, the pizzeria doesn't talk about the individual ingredients. They talk about how good the pizza tastes, how fast they deliver the pizza, or how your buddy is going to love you for it. Businesses want to learn how to grow your business, how to safeguard your business, and how to do specific things within a business. Most people in business don't want to know what kind of processor or what piece of hardware is included; they want to know what it will do for their business to improve their lives and their business. They want to know how it will grow their business.
How SOPs Help Marketing
Raj likens growing SOPs to the medical system. Hospitals put checklists into place to ensure that the patient is being cared for properly and that there are no procedures violated. The doctor even marks the patient's body with a two-dollar Sharpie while the patient is still alert and is able to agree what is being operated on and what procedures are being done. This way, medical staff reduce human error and malpractice lawsuits — not to mention dead patients.
"We do everything through SOPs operations, marketing, sales HR, hiring, recruiting, training, rewarding, and firing. The entire life cycle of our clients is documented. The beauty of that is we make fewer errors. Just like the doctors stop killing their patients through human error, we stopped killing our clients," says Raj.
Market to Your Client's Workers
Raj recommends that you document how you set up your client's desktop. Document the complete life cycle. Do it for every one of your clients. You will learn more about your clients, and your techs will learn more about your clients. It will stop them from asking inappropriate questions to the client. Have your techs learn and train on your clients' applications, so that when they are ready they can work on the clients' machines without fear of messing it up. Raj likens it to handing your kid the keys to your car. You wouldn't do that unless they had experience in driving the car, so why do companies hand new employees the keys to their business without training?
Raj started by trying to have SOPs documented for systems that were undocumented. Naturally the technicians complained, "Technology is different, it's complicated, it's special." Nobody wanted to do the SOPs, so he hired an intern to create SOPs for systems that were undocumented. As the intern went through and documented the SOPs he had the intern test it. Got a few new people to do the work and hired one person dedicated to SOPs. In three months they had 450 SOPs and techs were competing on who could create the best SOPs.
The reason behind having good SOPs is that it saves time and effort when faced with the same situation again. It frees up your important people for more important tasks and allows junior people to have successes.
One More Thing…
"Our only competition isn't the other competitors. It's our incompetence and lack of service delivery," says Raj. "How can we service our clients better? By treating my staff better and training them, we give great service at a great price. There's a big myth that clients care about price. Clients only care about the price when its the same level of incompetence." Raj has been able to raise prices from $200 a server to $850 a server because they do such a good job and their clients trust them. They've actually landed customers that they never marketed to. These customers want them to train their tech people to draw up SOPs. "Every business lives and dies by SOPs. Every business is an IT business. IT is often a black hole, and yet everything relies on IT," says Raj.
Have questions about SOPCulture? Visit http://www.sopculture.com and if you would like a no-obligation discussion about your managed services marketing, book a free consultation with me at http://www.ulistic.com/stuart.