Move over, NFL – this year’s hottest ticket didn’t involve punt, pass or kick. Based on conversations overheard at the bar and elsewhere, the buzz about this year’s IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp boiled down to this:
“Boot Camp’s the Super Bowl for MSPs!”
The IT Sales And Marketing Boot Camp is TMT’s annual, international CONVENTION where their best and brightest clients come together to share NEW business-building ideas, NEW marketing and sales strategies, NEW ways of generating profits and to get practical advice on how to overcome various roadblocks and obstacles to growing an IT services business.
If you couldn’t make it, you missed out. BUT…here’s your play-by-play of how the fans in the seats felt from kickoff to final whistle.
1st Quarter – “Standing Room Only”
Everyone was excited to get back on the field again.
Several described how much they’d missed Boot Camp after not attending for a couple of years. For some, it was that whole pandemic thing. For others, management just wanted to take a break, had other priorities, or wanted a year off.
“Last year the boss just wasn’t sold on the idea. But I made the case, and I am so glad to be back in the mix again,” said one attendee.
From the action on the field, you could easily see EVERYONE wanted to get off the bench and into the game. Rooms were buzzing with how happy attendees were to simply BE THERE. It was like old home week and, as soon as sessions began, everyone realized how much they’d missed by not coming.
And the crowd was massive, with sessions packed to the gills.
Nearly EVERY breakout was standing room only, with people jammed against the walls, listening intently, and taking notes. After Robin’s session on the power of authority marketing, the hallway was crammed with attendees rushing to the next session. “It’s like trying to shovel a high-def video stream through a 28.8 baud modem,” joked one MSP.
On the sponsor show floor, over and again, you’d hear how crazy anyone would be to NOT be there. A sponsor from the Exhibit Hall said, “There’s no other place on the planet where you could get in front of so many of your perfect MSP clients in one spot at one time!”
As a sponsor, you never know who you’ll run into who could be a perfect partner for you. Boot Camp offered opportunities you just couldn’t get anywhere else.
2nd Quarter – “Fourth And Long’s No Place To Be”
MSPs face many potentially game-changing challenges, and the difficulty finding quality team members was a constant refrain. A breakout session on finding and utilizing interns struck a chord, and several attendees said the strategy it outlined could be a huge win for them.
You constantly heard horror stories about trying to find qualified team members.
One attendee told the tale of hiring a seemingly GREAT virtual support person who’d rocked the interview. But the person who showed up for work was a bait-and-switch replacement who wasn’t nearly as good.
Along with staffing, the very threat of cyber-attacks remains top of mind.
Over lunch, one attendee recounted how a single Russian ransomware attack on his vendor knocked out THOUSANDS of seats. These kinds of attacks can not only cost millions of dollars, but they can also destroy the relationships you’ve built with long-term, valued customers.
And the ransomware attacks go beyond encrypting data – they’re now reselling customer lists along with their secure information. The dark web’s overflowing with this kind of high-value ransomed info.
Along with security, compliance in all its forms was also on many minds, including threats few ever consider. (For example, imagine the amount of critical data like HIPAA or even SSNs and credit card info that gets sent across SaaS applications used for messaging and interaction.)
And when you find yourself forced to deal with compliance issues, you wind up with unhappy government agencies beating a path to your doorstep.
Sad to say, the FASTEST way to become an expert is far too often the hard way – getting hacked and having to deal with trying to find ways to fix the problem and then cleaning up the mess afterward.
But having the right partners in place and the right team on your side can make all the difference.
And that’s why they were here.
3rd Quarter – “Credibility Is Currency”
From the main stage to all the breakout sessions, one recurring theme attendees noted was the importance of establishing authority and credibility to set yourself apart in your market.
As Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec put it, “Credibility is the major currency of profitability.”
That message came through loud and clear. Several noted how this year’s “Better Your Best” contestants (TMT’s annual client competition) leveraged credibility to increase awareness and make them the ONLY clear choice for customers in their markets.
In a confusing environment where almost every MSP struggles to find a way to stand above the crowd, pulling out all the stops to maximize your authority and credibility is critical.
Plus – as several “Sharks” noted – once you establish a name as being the “go-to” solution in your niche, you shouldn’t limit your thinking about how many customers you can serve or how large you can grow. Their message to the assembled masses was clear…
4th Quarter – “Go Big Or Go Home”
As the event wound down, the Sharks’ message of “Go big or go home” was reinforced from the speakers and in the hallways.
You could see MSPs sharing ideas and growth strategies over drinks, relishing the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, coaches and partners.
In many cases, these connections go back well over a decade; they’ve seen the industry change and grow.
The final day’s sessions on mergers and acquisitions brought home the importance of really having your ducks in a row with your business. It’s clear that consolidation is definitely taking place – you’re seeing it all around you – and it affects the decisions you need to make to build a business well-positioned for whatever optimal future you have in mind.
Boot Camp inspired everyone and reinvigorated their motivations for success. “THIS is the year I get it done” was heard over and again.
One solo entrepreneur said he’d had the marketing campaigns and ideas literally sitting on the floor alongside his desk for years. It was a constant reminder that opportunities existed, but he never actually went through the content and put it to use.
But the stories of the Better Your Best contestants – the struggles they went through, the breakthrough results they experienced – cleared away the cobwebs holding him back.
He was fed up with being stuck doing the same “break-fix” model he started with years ago. He saw so many more ways to serve customers and his community, especially given the very real concerns and dangers that now exist.
When asked what the biggest takeaway was for them, an attendee said emphatically, “Enough waiting around for just the right moment. Now it’s time to IMPLEMENT.”
And THAT’s how you win the big game.