Landing your first few clients isn’t easy, but the more confident you become in yourself and your business over time, the more clients you’ll acquire.
To move the needle initially, you’ll need to develop an offering to test and look for prospects in the right spots.
Finding yourself takes time, but it’s worth putting in the effort
When you’re first starting out, nothing’s ever going to go as planned. I’ve been there; we’ve all been there. It's important you don’t get discouraged and learn and grow from your mistakes and failures.
For example, your first service offering isn’t going to be your last. You’re going to run into challenges with it initially, but don’t forget this: That’s normal. After you acquire some more clients, re-evaluate your service offering packaging and pricing to determine how you want to position yourself.
You'll also want to spend some time thinking about your messaging to prospects. Why should they do business with you? How will your process improve their business results? What makes you different from your competitors? These are questions you need to have answered before your pitch yourself.
In other words, what’s your unique competitive advantage? By far, this is the most important aspect of building a high-performing MSP.
Once you determine who you are, it’s time to do a little bit of networking.
Where should you start looking for prospects? Look around you
Oftentimes, MSPs don’t know where to begin when it comes to acquiring more clients — and that’s okay. We’ve all been there before — struggling to find prospects — especially in the beginning.
If you don’t know where to begin, think about this: Do you have any clients at all? If so, start with them. What do I mean by that? Keep your current customers happy, and oftentimes, they'll refer you to others within their networks (yes, it’s really that simple).
Here's another example. I spoke with a small IT provider that was trying to make the switch to the MSP model. He was having a hard time finding prospects, so I told him to start with people he knew, and he told me he couldn't think of anyone. I then asked him to tell me more about his businesses. Eventually, I learned he had an accountant, a lawyer and friends that owned businesses.
Ten minutes later, we had a list of six potential referral partners. Over the next two weeks, he had coffee with four of them, three turned into leads, and a month later, he had his first customer. Boom!
If you don’t believe me, consider this: Eighty-five percent of businesses believe the best way to acquire local customers is through word-of-mouth referrals, according to an Alignable survey of 7,500 small-business owners.
While you’re gathering referrals from customers, do your homework on businesses in your area. Do any of them share the same target markets as you? If so, look to build mutually beneficial referral arrangement with these businesses (think about this: I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine).
The more you put into developing your offering and networking with potential clients, the more you’ll get out of it.