The late Zig Ziglar told the ham story to make the point of my article headline: The wife in a newly married couple was preparing dinner one evening when her husband noticed she cut off the end of the ham before putting it in the oven. He asked her why she did that, to which she replied, “Well, Mama always did it. That’s how you’re supposed to prepare a ham.” Not accepting her answer as “the way to prepare a ham,” he called his mother-in-law and asked why she cut off the end of the ham. Her response was the same: her mama always cut off the end of the ham. Now on a mission, he called Grandma and asked why SHE always cut off the end of the ham. Her reply was, “I only have a tiny oven and therefore small pans. I cut the end off the ham to make it fit.”
So much of what I see MSPs doing in business is akin to cutting off the end of the ham: they’ve adopted a way of doing something in their business, or accepted something as “That’s just the way it is,” because that’s what they saw everyone else doing or because that’s what they’ve always done – essentially putting themselves in small, confined cages of behavior and limiting their full power, full profitability and full potential.
One small cage is what they charge for their services – more specifically, what they believe people will pay for managed services and IT support. Often this is accepted as “the way it is,” explained to me and others as, “The people in my town are different,” and therefore will NOT pay more for IT support. Never mind that I can always find one or two MSPs in their area at the top end of the price scale, or that they’ve not truly mastered the sales process that would, in fact, allow them to secure higher fees. Doesn’t matter. They’ve stuffed themselves into that cage, locked themselves up and thrown away the key. They cling to their cage.
Another one is the “I shouldn’t have to” or “This should be easier” cage. Many doctors believe that after going through medical school, and given the nature of what they do, they shouldn’t have to do any marketing. They built it, and patients should come. They feel they shouldn’t have to learn how to influence (sell) their patients on a treatment plan. Another group VERY guilty of this is franchises. They firmly believe they shouldn’t have to do ANY marketing or client-getting because they bought a “mommy” who should do all of that for them. Many high-skill professionals – including MSPs – fall into this ego-driven “shouldn’t have to” cage, locking them up from making real progress and making real money. Closely tied to that is the “This should be easier” complaint I OFTEN hear from MSPs when they finally get to marketing.
Reality is, thinking you “shouldn’t have to” is the most incorrect and self-absorbed attitude to have. You CANNOT take a single inquiry, lead or sale for granted, even if you are the single most competent and qualified MSP in your marketplace. Each sale must be earned, each and every time.
Another self-imposed cage is timidity in marketing for fear of what others will think or say. Unfortunately, social media has put pressure on everyone to conform and not offend. Problem is, good marketing MUST offend and poke to get someone to pay attention and make a change. An undisturbed prospect NEVER buys – feeling the urgency of a need is REQUIRED to make a sale. Genteel messages just don’t cut it. They won’t offend anyone, but they won’t bring you a customer either. The dangers of paying for substandard or poor IT support MUST be pointed out and a case made as to why it’s not only foolish but dangerous. The faults and shortcomings of competitors need to be shown as contemptible. This isn’t kindergarten, where you should share the blocks. This is the business battlefield. Play fair and legal, but play to WIN.
To illustrate, a cage I put myself in: I will not say or do anything that would deeply offend my best and most loyal clients, or that is unnecessarily hateful, deceitful or illegal. Compare that to the SMALL cage someone else has of “I don’t want to say anything that would offend anybody.”
And finally, the biggest self-imposed cage is the limitations they put on themselves, their own potential and what they think they can achieve. In a marketing experiment for the headline of the Cyber Security Livecast, many smaller MSPs felt the headline “How To Add A Cool Million In MRR” was completely and totally out of their reach. Naturally, many of my clients said that at one time they felt the same way but now are excited about the opportunity to add a million in new MRR this year. What changed? Their clients? Their marketplace? Did Mercury go retrograde and change everything about how people value and pay for IT services?
Of course not. What changed was they let themselves out of their cage of self-imposed limitations. They started to realize their head trash and hardwired belief systems were nothing more than a small cage they PUT THEMSELVES IN – and so they opened the door and let themselves out. Do you know what cage you’re in right now? Will you even allow yourself to admit it (which is the first step toward changing anything…telling yourself the truth)?
Reality is, we ALL have certain limitations, certain cages we’re confined to. It may be capability and know-how, geographic, legal, financial or market size – but all of these are point-in-time limitations that CAN be changed if you choose to change them. Yes, there are some lines you should not cross for love or money. But your cage should be a BIG one – one that gives you plenty of room to grow, to fly, to live as you decide to live.
Want to build a BIGGER opportunity for your MSP? Join us for the Cyber Security Livecast (mentioned in this article) to discover a step-by-step plan to add half a million or more in new MRR selling cybersecurity solutions this year: www.CyberSecurityLivecast.com